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UN Special Rapporteur’s Report Confirms Iran’s Deteriorating Human Rights Situation

UN Agrees to Extension on Iran Special Rapporteur's Mandate
Javaid Rehman, United Nations Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Iran

The latest report by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights in Iran underlines a rising trend of human rights violations by the clerical regime. The ongoing human rights violations in Iran necessitate a joint international effort to hold the regime accountable for its crimes against humanity.

The regime has executed 27 individuals in January 2021. These executions are following hundreds of more executions starting in 2020.

“The Special Rapporteur remains deeply concerned at the high number of death sentences and executions in the Islamic Republic of Iran, including for acts that do not amount to the ‘most serious crimes’ and following unfair trials,” read Mr. Javaid Rehman’s report published on January 11.

The regime has also carried out secret executions and had hanged several political prisoners despite international outcries.

“The Special Rapporteur is alarmed by reports of secret executions in connection with protests, with death sentences issued in these cases following unfair trials and after the systematic use of torture to extract forced confessions,” read the report.

The report particularly refers to the execution of Iran’s national wrestling champion Navid Afkari who was executed on September 12, 2020, and the execution of Mostafa Salehi, hanged on August 5, 2020.

Mostafa and Navid were both arrested during the major protests in 2018 across Iran.

mek, Iran, navid afkari, salehi
Mostafa Salehi (left), Navid Afkari (Right)

But as underlined in Mr. Rehman’s report, the regime’s human rights violations and depriving people of their right to life are not limited to extrajudicial executions.

The UN Special Rapporteur also underlined the mass killing of peaceful protestors during the nationwide Iran protests in 2019 and the continuous torture of those arrested during demonstrations. According to the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI – MEK), over 1500 protesters were killed during the November 2019 uprising.

None of the perpetrators of this crime have been brought to justice. Thus, Mr. Rehman underlined that “Impunity for those actions and a lack of accountability prevail.”

The ongoing human rights violations in Iran are part of systematic impunity enjoyed by all Iranian regime authorities. In their letter published in December, Mr. Rehman and six other UN human rights experts underlined this “systematic impunity” the regime has enjoyed ever since committing its greatest “crimes against humanity” in the 1988 massacre.

In the summer of 1988, the regime extrajudicially hanged over 30,000 political prisoners. The UN experts underlined in their letter that the 1988 massacre “may amount to crimes against humanity.”

They also underlined that so far, “no official in Iran has been brought to justice and many of the officials involved continue to hold positions of power including in key judicial, prosecutorial and government bodies responsible for ensuring the victims receive justice.”

The regime’s current Judiciary Chief Ebrahim Raisi and Justice Minister Alireza Avaii are both among the main perpetrators of the 1988 massacre.

Iran: Who is Ebrahim Raisi?

Thus, there is no surprise that the number of execution and cases of severe human rights violations continue to increase across Iran.

The ongoing human rights violations in Iran could be primarily attributed also to the international community’s inaction in the face of the regime’s crimes against humanity.

The UN experts had underlined that how this failure to act in 1988 “had a devastating impact on the survivors and families as well as on the general situation of human rights in Iran and emboldened Iran to continue to conceal the fate of the victims and to maintain a strategy of deflection and denial that continue to date.”

The increasing trend of human rights violations in Iran, confirmed by UN human rights experts on many occasions, underlines the need to hold Tehran’s regime to account for its crimes.

Sadly, the western powers, mainly the European leaders, have refused to take concrete actions about the Iranian regime’s gross human rights violations. They have only “condemned” the Iranian regime.

Recent executions in Iran underline that mullahs do not take these “concerns” and “condemnations” seriously.

The world community, particularly the European leaders, should take decisive actions about the regime’s human rights violations.

The European Union has adopted a new global sanctions regime targeting human rights violators. The EU leaders should use their new international sanctions regime and target the regime’s leaders for their role in human rights violations. They also should make their relations with Iran contingent on an absolute halt to human rights violations in Iran.

The international community should also send a fact-finding mission to Iran to investigate the 1988 massacre and the ongoing crimes against humanity inside Iran.

These actions will undoubtedly prevent Tehran from further committing crimes against humanity.