August 4, 2017

Amnesty International Report Calls Out Repression of Human Rights Defenders in Iran

On 2 August 2017, Amnesty International released a report denouncing the crackdown on human rights defenders in Iran. The report entitled, “Iran: Caught in A Web of Repression: Iran’s Human Rights Defenders Under Attack” draws upon accounts of repressive measures taken by the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to silence those who peacefully advocate for the human rights of all inhabitants of Iran to be respected. Oftentimes, activists have been labelled as criminals, with the intention to harm Iran’s national security in attempts to disparage their cause. Furthermore, the report elaborates the discrimination faced by Iran’s ethnic minorities, including the Ahwazi, Baloch, Kurds and Southern Azerbaijan, as their cultural, linguistic, social and political rights continue to be curtailed. 

According to Amnesty International’s report, the most flagrant human rights violations in Iran can be seen by the intensification of Iran’s repressive measures against human rights defenders and Iranian minorities, including the Ahwazi Arabs, Baloch, Kurds and Southern Azerbaijani.

The report underlines how Iran is a signatory state of Article 27 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which establishes that, “ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities shall not be denied the right to enjoy their own culture, to profess their own religion, or use their own language.” However, minorities and human rights defenders who stand up for Iran’s minority communities alike, face gross human rights violations, such as torture, unfair trials and imprisonment.  Additionally, activists who associate their work with minority rights risk lengthy prison sentences.

The report also sheds light on the discrimination that ethnic minorities face. They suffer from the lack of access to employment and adequate housing, in addition to the freedom to exercise their political and cultural rights. When it comes to linguistic rights for Iran’s minorities, they do not have the freedom to learn and use their own language, both in private or in public, without risking discrimination. The report also outlines the lack of educational efforts to teach minority languages, and the complete absence of any radio or television station in their respective mother tongue language – thus significantly depriving these communities of the ability to practice and celebrate their cultural and linguistic rights.

Iran frequently associates minority rights activists with separatism and harshly punishes those who promote their culture. For example, Mohammad Ali Amouri, an Ahwazi Arab minority rights activist, has been on death row since 2012 for promoting Arab culture. His peaceful activities, included promoting Arab identity through poetry events and language classes. He has also tried to change harmful traditional practices toward women and girls in the Arab community through education. Amnesty International strongly condemned his punishment and called for the immediate and unconditional release of Mr Amouri, alongside other oppressed human rights defenders in Iran and to create a safe environment in which activists can promote human rights without fear of reprisal.

UNPO praises Amnesty International for bringing to light such violations and welcomes their report, as the suffering of most of UNPO members, in particular, Iranian minorities is often overlooked.

To read the full report, please click here.