Joint civil society letter to UN Permanent Mission asking for support for a resolution regarding the recent protests.

Monday, 9 December 2019

TO: All Permanent
Missions to the United Nations in New York

Your Excellencies,

The undersigned
national, regional and international civil society organizations urge your
government to support resolution A/C.3/74/L.27, adopted by the General
Assembly’s Third Committee on 14 November 2019, when it comes for adoption by
its plenary later this month.  

As the situation
in Iran has been marked in recent weeks by another human rights crisis, in
addition to supporting the resolution, we call on you to publicly condemn the grave
human rights violations that continue to be perpetrated by the Iranian
authorities and to help ensure those responsible are held to account.

The resolution
calls on the Iranian authorities to release anyone detained for peacefully
exercising their rights including people detained solely for taking part in
peaceful protests.

Iranian security
forces have continued to crack down on protests with complete impunity. Since
15 November 2019, they have used excessive and lethal force to crush protests
that have taken place in more than 100 cities across Iran and to unlawfully
kill unarmed protesters. The number of people believed to have been killed
during the demonstrations has risen to at least 208, based on credible reports
received by Amnesty International. The undersigned organizations believe the real
death toll is likely to be significantly higher.

Horrific accounts
from eyewitnesses and victims’ relatives, information gathered from human
rights activists and journalists outside Iran and extensive verified video
footage all provide clear evidence that the security forces have used firearms
against unarmed protesters who posed no threat to life. This intentional lethal
force and other unnecessary or excessive force used against unarmed protesters
is an escalation of past abusive practices of Iran’s security forces, who have previously
unlawfully killed and injured unarmed protesters with impunity.

At least 7,000 people
have also been arrested, according to one parliamentarian. Those detained since
the protests began include journalists and human rights defenders. The
undersigned organizations are seriously concerned about the fate and whereabouts
of the detainees, many of whom have been subjected to enforced disappearance or
have otherwise been arbitrarily detained and denied access to their families
and lawyers of their own choosing. Harrowing reports and verified video
show that some detainees have been subjected to
torture and other ill-treatment in detention centres and prisons. Consistent
with past patterns of abuse, the authorities have broadcast the “confessions”
of several detainees likely obtained under duress or torture and other
ill-treatment. In addition, the authorities have made statements smearing protesters
as “villains” and “rioters,” calling for their execution.

Within 48 hours
of the start of the protests, the authorities implemented a near total
shutdown of global internet communications
, cutting off nearly all
means of online communications for people inside Iran. The National Information Network, which
kept domestic platforms online throughout the shutdown, is known to be
monitored by Iranian officials. The resulting information blackout was a
deliberate attempt by the authorities to prevent people from sharing images and
videos of the deadly force being used by security forces. Shutting down
communications over the Internet is a systematic assault on the right to
freedom of expression, which includes the right to seek, receive and impart
information and ideas through any media. This has placed barriers to
international monitors – including UN human rights experts – and their efforts
to document the unfolding situation in the country.

Arbitrary restrictions on the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly are highlighted in the draft resolution, alongside other long-standing patterns of human rights violations that Iranian authorities must address, including the arbitrary arrest and detention of journalists and human rights defenders including lawyers, women’s rights activists, labour rights activists, minority rights activists and environmental activists. Other human rights defenders who continue to be targeted include anti-death penalty campaigners and those seeking truth, justice and reparation for the mass extrajudicial executions and enforced disappearances of the 1980s. To this date, Iranian authorities have refused to provide an official number of those killed and arrested during the protests, while using the lack of official figures as grounds for dismissing reported death tolls and arrest numbers.

The UN Working
Group on Arbitrary Detention has also noted in its recent decisions a pattern
of targeting foreign nationals, dual nationals and Iranian nationals with
permanent residence in other countries for prosecution and imprisonment.

The draft
resolution also expresses serious concern about the Iranian authorities’
continuing use of the death penalty. Iranian law retains the death penalty for
some drug trafficking offences. Iranian authorities continue to use the death
penalty for some consensual same-sex sexual conduct and for vaguely worded
offences such as “enmity against god” (moharebeh) and “spreading
corruption on earth” (efsad-e fel arz). 
They also continue to use the death penalty against individuals who were
under the age of 18 at the time of the crime, in flagrant violation of Iran’s
obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights as well as under customary
international law, which requires urgent action by UN member states.

The Iranian
authorities continue to deny individuals facing some charges, including those
related to national security, access to independent lawyers of their own
choosing at the investigation stage.

Torture and other
ill-treatment, including through the denial of medical care in detention,
remains widespread, is systematic in national security-related cases, and is
perpetrated with impunity. In 2019 alone, torture may have caused or
contributed to the death in custody of at least two people in detention.

The undersigned organisations
are also deeply concerned about the widespread and systematic discrimination and
violence based on gender, religion or belief, ethnicity, gender identity and
sexual orientation that are enshrined in Iranian law, policies and state practices
and that seriously impede civil, political, economic, social and cultural
rights, as documented in the reports of the Special Rapporteur on the situation
of human rights in Iran and of the UN Secretary General presented to the UN
General Assembly.

Women face entrenched discrimination, enshrined in law, including in relation to divorce, inheritance and employment. Gender-based violence against women and girls, including domestic violence and early and forced marriage, has not been criminalised. The authorities have intensified their crackdown against women’s rights defenders who have campaigned against discriminatory compulsory veiling laws and have sentenced some to prison and flogging.

Ethnic minorities, including Ahwazi Arabs, Azerbaijani Turks, Baluchis, Kurds andTurkmen, continue to face entrenched discrimination. 

Freedom of religion or belief is systematically violated in law and practice and religious minorities including Baha’is, Christian converts, Gonabadi Dervishes, Jews, Yaresan
(Ahl-e Haq), and Sunni Muslims face systematic discrimination. 

Despite the
repeated calls not only from our organisations, but also from UN treaty bodies,
Special Procedures, the UN Secretary General as well as many states in the
framework of the Universal Periodic Review, the Iranian authorities have failed
to take concrete steps to address these human rights concerns. 

Draft resolution
A/C.3/74/L.27 provides an opportunity for the General Assembly to raise serious
concern and publicly condemn the grave human rights situation in the country.
The resolution calls on Iran ‘to launch a comprehensive accountability process
in response to all cases of human rights violations, including allegations of
excessive use of force against peaceful protesters’ and offers key recommendations
for long-overdue human rights reforms, in line with the many recommendations made
by UN human rights bodies.

By supporting
this resolution, the UN General Assembly will send a strong message to the
Iranian authorities that, in this time of crisis more than ever, the fulfilment
by Iran of its human rights obligations remains a priority for the
international community, and that genuine and tangible improvements to the
situation are expected.

Abdorrahman Boroumand
Center for Human Rights in Iran 

All Human Rights for All
in Iran

Amnesty International

Arseh Sevom




Association for the Human
Rights of the Azerbaijani people in Iran  (AHRAZ)

Balochistan Human Rights Group

Cairo Institute for Human
Rights Studies

Center for Human Rights in Iran

Centre for Supporters of
Human Rights

Child Rights International
Network (CRIN)


Committee to Protect

Conectas Direitos Humanos

Gulf Centre for Human Rights

Human Rights Activists in
Iran (HRAI)

Human Rights Watch

Impact Iran

International Federation
for Human Rights (FIDH)

International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association

International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism

Iran Human Rights

Iran Human Rights
Documentation Center

Service for Human Rights

Justice for Iran

Kurdistan Human Rights
-Geneva (KMMK-G)

Kurdistan Human Rights
Network (KHRN)

OutRight Action

The Jacob Blaustein
Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights (JBI)

Together against the death
penalty (ECPM)

Minority Rights Group

Siamak Pourzand Foundation

Small Media

The Advocates for Human

United for Iran

World Coalition against the Death Penalty

6Rang (Iranian Lesbian and
Transgender Network)

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