Mar 13, 2012

All Eyes On Iran During UN Human Rights Council

Reports from Special Rapporteurs on Human Rights in Iran and Myanmar inspire statements on the rights of ethnic nationalities in both states. 

Photo: Ahmed Shaheed, Special Rapporteur on Iran addresses during the 19th Session Human Rights Council. 12 March 2012. Photo by Jean-Marc Ferré - UN Information Service - Geneva

Geneva, 13 March 2012

The UN Human Rights Council welcomed reports from Special Rapporteurs on the situation of human rights in Iran and Myanmar Monday, 12 March 2012. The situations of UNPO Members came up repeatedly throughout the day.


The Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar detailed his continuing concerns despite recent democratic reforms in Burma. In response to a specific question during the interactive dialogue on the situation of ethnic nationalities in Burma, the Special Rapporteur expressed regret that he had not been able to access those areas. However, he reiterated that the Council was well aware of past abuses in these areas and that many were concerned about the possibility that abuses were ongoing.


A number of UNPO Members participated in a parallel event on Monday afternoon examining the use of the death penalty in Iran. The event, co-hosted by the Association of Human Rights in Kurdistan of Iran-Geneva (KMMK-G), International Educational Development Inc. (IED), and the Association of Humanitarian Lawyers (AHL), focused on the use of the death penalty to terrorize the population, human rights activists and defenders, and the disproportionate use of the death penalty against ethnic nationalities in Iran, including the Kurdish, Baloch, and Arab peoples.


Immediately following this event, the plenary session of the Human Rights Council turned to a dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, Dr. Ahmed Shaheed. Less than one year into his mandate, Dr. Shaheed presented his second report to the Council, highlighting a number of areas of particular concern. This report included a section on rights violations against religions and ethnic minorities in Iran, noting that these groups are targeted for particularly harsh treatment at the hands of state authorities. Dr. Shaheed also expressed his disappointment at Iran’s failure to respond to his repeated requests to visit the country. Though Iran issued an open invitation to special procedures in 2002, the country has accepted no such visits since 2005 despite requests from numerous thematic mandates.  


Speaking to the Council following Dr. Shaheed’s report, the Iranian delegation claimed that the country would welcome the visits of special procedures, but that this welcome might not extend to Dr. Shaheed, who the delegate referred to as “ignorant” and “biased.”


A large number of states delivered statements during this interactive dialogue. Many, including the European Union, Canada, France, Spain, Norway, Austria, Switzerland, Australia, the United Kingdom, Germany, the United States and the Czech Republic, voiced their concern for ethnic and religious minorities in Iran.


Additionally, five NGOs were given an opportunity to speak during the interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporeur. On behalf of the Nonviolent Radical Party, Transnational and Transparty (NRPTT), UNPO Member representative Monireh Sulemani delivered a statement on the particularly troubling situation for ethnic minorities in Iran, who experience political, economic, social, and cultural discrimination at the hands of state authorities. Concluding her statement, Ms. Sulemani drove home the intersecting nature of discrimination against minorities, noting that three elements of her identity – being a woman, being Baloch, and being a Sunni- prevent her from participating in the political life of Iran. The NRPTT also called on Iran to allow the international observers and media to access Iran, particularly the country’s minority regions.


In an effort to continue these important discussions, UNPO will co-host a parallel event with Minority Rights Group on Wednesday, 14 March, on the topic of minority rights in Iran.


Click here to learn more about the UNPO event "Minority Rights in Iran"

Click here for video footage of the Nonviolent Radical Party Statement at the 19th Session of the UN Human Rights Council, Agenda Item 4, Interactive Dialogue with SR on situation of human rights in Iran 

Click here for media coverage of the NRPTT statement (Farsi)

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