Periphery Voices from Iran
The aftermath of the Iranian elections in 2009 pushed people power and protest within Iran onto the front pages worldwide. Most media outlets failed to notice however that a substantial proportion of the Iranian population had already made their political statement before the ballot boxes opened. Many ethnic groups boycotted the election process once their preferred candidates were officially excluded or forced to withdraw their candidature.
Iran’s population is a mosaic of ethnicities, but the non-Persian groups are largely located in the peripheries. Unfortunately, their geographical location in the margins is matched by cultural, linguistic and political marginalization and coupled with low socio-economic indicators. This directly contravenes Article 19 of the Iranian Constitution which states that ethnicity should not be a marker of privilege.
The twelve months following the Iranian elections are crucial to the future wellbeing of these groups. Here is a summary of UNPO's activities in 2009 and 2010.
Forum on Minority Issues
On 12 and 13 November 2009, UNPO facilitated the participation of five Iranian groups at the Second Session of the Forum on Minority Issues - the Ahwazi-Arabs, the Kurds, the Baloch, the Azeri-Turks and the Lur. The session was based on the theme of “Minorities and Effective Political Participation” and representatives utilised the platform to identify obstacles to their involvement in political processes and offer recommendations for best practice to improve their situation. Delegates from Iranian groups wore traditional dress to represent the diversity of Iran’s ethnic, cultural and historical composition.
Iran Face UPR
In February 2010, Iran came under the scrutiny of the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) for the very first time as part of the Universal Periodic Review.
As part of the UPR process, UNPO submitted a report in September 2009 on the violations that have occurred and provide recommendations to Iran on how to improve their human rights record. UNPO supported and advised several UNPO member and associate organisations throughout the preparation and submission of their own reports. These were mentioned in the Joint Stakeholders Report, a document released by OHCHR which summarizes “credible and reliable information” provided by relevant stakeholders from civil society and to be used as part of Iran’s review. To read the Joint Stakeholders Report click here
Closer to the review, UNPO members addressed Permanent Missions, international institutions and NGOs. On Friday 12 February 2010 UNPO held a seminar in collaboration with Interfaith International, which drew attention to the disproportionate discrimination and rights abuses suffered by Iranian minorities.