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UN Third Committee Session Makes Addressing Human Rights Violations in Iran Imperative

Headquarters of the United Nations in New York (file photo)
Headquarters of the United Nations in New York (file photo)

The United Nations Third Committee Interactive Dialogue on the Situation of Human Rights in Iran was held on October 26, reviewing the new report of Javaid Rehman, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran. This event was attended by the representatives of dozen United Nations members states.

In his latest report, Mr. Rehman expressed concern over the ongoing human rights violations in Iran. He particularly expressed his concerns over the regime’s use of violence against detained protesters of the major Iran protests in January 2018 and November 2019. Rehman condemned the recent execution of Iran’s wrestling champion, Navid Afkari, who was arrested during the popular uprising in 2018.

“The Government and judiciary appear to be implementing death sentences against protesters to prevent peaceful dissent and restrict civic space. The recent arbitrary execution of Navid Afkari for his participation in August 2018 protests is emblematic of this concern,” said Rehman.

Courtney Nemroff, the United States representative to the United Nations Economic and Social Council on Monday condemned the ongoing human rights violations in Iran and called for independent investigations into the 1988 massacre and the killing of over 1500 protesters during major Iran protests in 2019.

“The United States is concerned that the Government of Iran continues to deny you access. We call on Iran to immediately allow a country visit. This carries increased importance this year – there have been no independent or transparent investigations into the regime’s killings of up to 1,500 protesters in November 2019,” said Ms. Courtney Nemroff.

The U.S. also condemned the recent execution of Navid Afkari, Iran’s national hero. “We remain concerned about death sentences imposed following unfair trials and forced confessions reportedly obtained through torture. The most vicious recent example is the execution of wrestler Navid Afkari on September 12,” Ambassador Nemroff said.

A key issue the U.S. envoy referred to was how the regime uses its impunity, a byproduct of the international community’s inaction, to continue human rights violations in Iran.

Notably, the international community’s failure to hold the Iranian regime to account for its massacre of 30,000 political prisoners in the summer of 1988 has encouraged the regime to use oppression as a means of holding its grip on power. Most of the victims of that crime against humanity were members and supporters of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK).

Based on a fatwa by the regime’s founder Ruhollah Khomeini, the so-called “Death Commissions,” in mock trials, sent thousands of prisoners to the gallows in 1988. The perpetrators of this massacre, including the mullahs’ current Chief Justice, Ebrahim Raisi, hold top positions. The current status of these criminals and the regime’s ongoing human rights violations show the mullahs have never changed the course regarding people’s rights.

“This is part of a pattern of impunity that extends back 41 years. An independent and transparent investigation is needed into the 1988 ‘Death Commissions.’ We call on the international community to carry out an independent investigation, including the alleged involvement of the current head of the judiciary and Minister of Justice,” the U.S. envoy said on Monday.

In 1988, the Iranian Resistance repeatedly urged the international community to stop the ongoing massacre inside Iran prisons. In 2016, the Iranian opposition president Maryam Rajavi initiated the “Justice Movement for the Victims of the 1988 Massacre.” This movement has received extensive international attention.

In response, the regime has tried to eliminate the evidence by destroying the mass graves of the 1988 massacre. Giving this further regime time will certainly deprive the victims and their family members of justice.

Failure to hold this regime to account for its major crime in 1988 will encourage the authorities to further pursue human rights violations and brutalize Iranian citizens with greater impunity. Particularly Mr. Rehman, as the special rapporteur for Iran, has the duty to investigate the 1988 massacre and the human rights violations in Iran.