By Shiva Mahbobi
Mohammad Javad Zarif, the foreign Minister of the Islamic regime in Iran, has been given platform to speak and represent the Islamic regime in Iran at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) 40th Session on February 26th 2019. This is a regime that has been abusing human rights in Iran for 40 years on a countless scale that could only be compared with the fascist regimes around the globe. They have imprisoned, tortured and executed hundreds of thousands of people in Iran. This is a regime that has committed crime against humanity by opposition cleansing during the 40 years of their dictatorship.
The UNHRC claims they do not invite speaker and the member countries have the right to speak at their annual sessions. However, UNHRC claims, and has been proud, to be “responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe and addressing situations of human rights violations”. My question is: why would UNHRC allow Mohammad Javad Zarif, who is the representative of the dictator Islamic regime in Iran to attend their 40th session? Zarif has been given platform to speak while his regime has deprived millions of people in Iran from their basic rights of exercising their freedom of expression. Is UNHRC plans to discuss and complains about Zarif’s Islamic regime’s abuse of human rights in Iran when he attends their 40th session? The UNHRC seems to have double standard: On the one hand, claims to be responsible for promoting and strengthening human rights around the globe, and on other hand, invites the representative of one of the most oppressive and repressive regime on the globe. How would UNHRC explains its decision to give platform to dictatorship in Iran?
I would like to remind you of some of the crimes committed by the regime in Iran which Mohammad Javad Zarif represents in the UNHRC.
Presently, thousands of political prisoners are held in different prisons across Iran without any access to a lawyer, charges or trials. These prisoners age range is from 13-75 years old, and their crimes range from possessing a book, an article, or a leaflet to participating in protests. Among these political prisoners are lawyers, who have tried in vain to defend some of the prisoners, labour activists, human rights activists, women’s rights advocates, journalists, children rights activists, bloggers, artists, environmental activist members of banned opposition groups and the people of the Baha’i faith. Amnesty International has recently published a report on the recent situation of human rights abuse in Iran. In the last two years alone the regime, which Zarif represents in the UNHRC 40th session, has committed numerous violations of human rights in Iran including the following:
- Following the protests of people in December 2017-January 2018 against poverty, suppression, human rights abuse, imprisonment, torture and execution, regime arrested and tortured more than 3000 people and killed 22 protesters on the street.
- Several detainees have been killed under torture. (Appendix 1)
- More than 262 truck drivers were arrested in 2018 in Iran only for participating in a strike action on charges of ‘threatening national security’.
- Following the recent strike of the Sugar Cane workers of Haft-Tapeh, and also Ahvaz Steel Workers in Iran, tens of workers were arrested, tortured and subjected to forced televised confession. Some of these workers are still in prison including Mr Esmael Bakhshi and the student activist Ms Sepideh Gholian.
Mr Bakhshi and Ms Gholian are both re-arrested because they spoke about the torture they were subjected to when they were initially arrested. (Appendix 2)
Iranian jailed student activist speaking out about her torture:
- Tens of labour activists are in prison including Mr Jafar Azimzadeh, Mr Behnam Ebrahimzadeh and Ms Parvin Mohammadi. The labour activists are often sentenced to flogging and lengthy jail sentences on the charged of ‘acting against national security’. (Appendix 3)
- Tens of environmental activists have been arrested and tortured and are still in prison.
- Hundreds of political prisoners have been deprived of medical attention so they could die without the need for the regime to execute them (Appendix 4)
These are only a few examples of the violation of human rights by the Islamic regime in Iran.
This is not the first time the UNHRC has given platform to the representative of the Islamic regime of Iran. UNHRC provided a platform to Alireza Avaee, the Justice Minister of the Islamic regime of Iran in 2018. The record of the crime against humanity committed by Alireza Avaee, the Justice Minister, is very dark that in 2011 the European Union (EU) included his name, together with 28 other authorities of the Islamic Regime, subjected them to visa ban and asset freeze. He was put on such a list by the EU for the role he has played in ‘intense and extensive violation of the rights of Iranian citizens’ and yet UNHRC closed their eyes and provided him with a
platform to speak at their session. According to the statement of the EU, Alireza Avaee, in his position as the head of Tehran justice department, has been responsible for “arbitrary arrests,” “failing to observe the rights of those in custody,” and has been responsible “increasing the number of executions.” And yet UNHRC gave him a platform with a proven track record for crime against humanity. For many years, Alireza Avaee has held key positions in the judicial system of the Islamic Republic. Also, according to the survivors of the massacre of political prisoners in 1988, in the ‘UNESCO Prison’ in the city of Dezful in Iran, Alireza Avaee, in the position of revolutionary prosecutor, has been a member of the “Death Commission” and had the decisive role in the execution of tens of political prisoners in the summer of 1988 in the city of Dezful. In the wave of protests after the ‘presidential elections’ in 2009, Alireza Avaee was the head of the Department of Justice in Tehran. In this position, he played a decisive role in arranging ‘show trials’ leading to execution verdicts and long term prison sentences for the protestors. When he was heading the judiciary in Tehran, three protestors, after being transferred to Kahrizak Detention Centre, were killed on 9 June 2009.
What else UNHRC needs to stop someone like Alireza Avaee and Javad Zarif to address their session on the issue of human rights? Is UNHRC has become obsolete that any dictator with any proven track records of crime against humanity could come to their session and speak? This is a serious perversion of human rights by a human right agency UNHRC. This is a mockery of human rights by a human right agency UNHRC. What UNHRC has been doing is to turn a blind eye to thousands of people being tortured and executed in Iran by the Islamic regime.
The question is: What is UNHRC trying to do by inviting representatives of dictatorship regime in Iran? Is UNHRC assisting the dictatorship in Iran to wash their hands of their proven crimes? I call on the UNHRC, instead of giving platform to the Islamic regime in Iran, to publicly condemn the serious and proven violations of
human rights in Iran, which is their claimed role, instead of giving their crimes legitimacy and turn their back on thousands of people who are in prisons, been tortured and executed in Iran. I ask the UNHRC to stop supporting and giving platform to representatives of the Islamic regime.