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Sun. Apr 21st, 2024

A United Nations fact-finding mission has concluded that Iran perpetrated serious rights violations, amounting to crimes against humanity, during a violent crackdown on peaceful protests and discrimination against women and girls in Tehran.

The unrest erupted following the September 2022 death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian Kurd who was arrested for allegedly violating the strict dress code for women. The demonstrations quickly escalated into a challenge to Iran’s government system under supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The UN Human Rights Council established a high-level investigation into the deadly crackdown in November 2022. In its initial report, the independent international fact-finding mission revealed that many of the uncovered violations constituted crimes against humanity, including murder, imprisonment, torture, rape, sexual violence, persecution, enforced disappearance, and other inhumane acts. The mission emphasized that these crimes, coupled with a deprivation of fundamental rights and motivated by discriminatory intent, amounted to the crime against humanity of persecution on the grounds of gender.

Chairing the three-member mission, Sara Hossain stated, “These acts form part of a widespread and systematic attack directed against the civilian population in Iran, namely against women, girls, boys, and men who have demanded freedom, equality, dignity, and accountability.” The mission urged the Iranian government to immediately cease the repression of peaceful protesters, particularly women and girls.

The mission criticized Tehran for actively obstructing the investigation into Amini’s death and noted the arrest of individuals for seemingly innocuous actions such as dancing or honking car horns during the protests. Additionally, it highlighted the detention of hundreds of children, some as young as 10. The report condemned the Iranian security forces for their use of unnecessary and disproportionate force, resulting in the unlawful killing and injury of protesters who posed no imminent threat.

Furthermore, the mission documented evidence of extrajudicial killings and arbitrary executions of young men, as well as the alarming number of protesters, including women and children, killed by security forces. The report underscored the pervasive discrimination against women and girls as a catalyst for the widespread human rights violations. It called on Iran to halt all executions, release arbitrarily detained individuals, end judicial harassment of protesters and their families, repeal discriminatory laws, and provide justice, truth, and reparations to victims.

Despite Iran’s refusal to cooperate with the mission, the report will be formally presented to the Human Rights Council on March 15. While the release of the report may not immediately alter Iran’s political course, it adds to international pressure on Tehran, particularly in the context of concerns over its nuclear program, support for Russia in the conflict with Ukraine, and ongoing persecution of activists such as Nobel Peace Prize laureate Narges Mohammadi.

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