September 29, 2011

UNPO UN Report Outlines Civil And Political Rights Violations Faced By Iran’s Indigenous Peoples

UNPO Alternative Report to the UN Human Rights Committee highlights marginalization of indigenous ethnicities in Iran. UNPO Alternative Report to the UN Human Rights Committee highlights marginalization of indigenous ethnicities in Iran.

UNPO has submitted an Alternative Report to the UN Human Rights Committee ahead of Iran’s review under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) at the 103rd Session in October 2011.  This report to the Treaty Body monitoring committee underlines the gross violations of human rights and the systematic persecution of the Ahwaz Arabs, Azeri Turks, Kurds and Baloch peoples.

The Ahwazi Arab, Azeri Turkish, Kurdish and Baloch people in Iran are not accorded indigenous status and thus fall victim to political, economic and social marginalization.  Their traditional lands are often rich with natural resources that provide a large source of wealth for the Iranian government, but groups who reside there experience disproportionately high rates of poverty, unemployment, preventable disease due to poor or non-existent infrastructure.

Discrimination or preferential treatment of Iranian citizens is prohibited according to Article 19 of the Iranian constitution which states that “all people of Iran, whatever the ethnic group or tribe to which they belong, enjoy equal rights; color, race, language, and the like, do not bestow any privilege.”  As these indigenous groups have unique cultures, communicate in their respective native languages and oftentimes observe religions different from the Iranian state religion of Shia Islam, their behavior is branded as “anti-social” and their actions are conducted “under the pretext of a sacred objective” and “ignore the norms of society” (CCPR/C/IRN/Q/3/Add.1). 

Falsely generalizing members of ethnic groups to be associated with terrorist or separatist organizations, the Iranian government targets these ethnic groups for arbitrary arrests, torture, and show trials to secure excessive incarceration or capital punishment.  This also occurs through vague and inconsistent interpretations of national and Islamic law.  The UNPO Alternative Report has cited numerous cases where human rights activists who participate in peaceful demonstrations, which are constitutionally protected, are arrested on exaggerated charges of “endangering national security” and are oftentimes tortured, disappeared or executed. 

UNPO’s Report proposes a series of recommendations to be posited to the Iranian delegation at the 103rd Session of the CCPR.  They include:

-Formally recognize the Ahwazi Arabs, South Azerbaijani, Baloch and Kurds as indigenous people, and respect the distinct rights to self-governance afforded to them by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

-Ensure that profits from natural resources gleaned from regions with high concentrations of indigenous communities are reinvested in their respective communities

-Fully implement Constitutional provisions prohibiting discrimination in providing adequate housing and equal access of development resources for all citizens

-Decriminalize apostasy of religion and towards the Iranian state

-Discontinue the use of ‘gozinesh’ and other methods of discriminating against citizens engaging in their right to their religious freedom

The full report can be downloaded here