Sep 22, 2017

UNPO Side-Event to the 36th Session of the UNHRC: Enforced Disappearances in Iran and the Assault on the Fundamental Rights

On 20 September 2017, the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO), in cooperation with the Nonviolent Radical Party, Transnational Transpaty (NRPTT) convened a side-event to the 36th Regular Session of the United Nations Human Rights COuncil. This conference shed light on human rights violation in the Islamic Republic of Iran against minorities and political activists. 

The conference was opened and moderated by Mr Fernando Burgés, UNPO Programme Manager, who underlined common misconceptions that some politicians and the Western media have on Iran, most notably, the idea that the country’s social fabric is made up of  Persians only. 

The first speaker, Ms Mona Silavi, representative of the Ahwaz Human Rights Organization in Brussels,  shed light on the interplay between unofficial security forces and the paradoxical insecurity they represent for Iranian citizens. With these parallel forces having a stranglehold on torture centers and intelligence services, she reported that the most dangerous of the independent forces are the Revolutionary Guards Corps. Daughter of one of the many victims of enforced disappearances in Iran, Ms Silavi shared that, despite endless search, to this day she remains unaware of her father’s whereabouts.  Denouncing the Iranian regime’s attitude towards the UN special rapporteur, Ms Silavi concluded her participation by highlighting that the UN special procedure mechanism remains impossible to be reached by poor and rural victim’s families.  

Mr Peshko Khosravi, representative of the Komala Party, emphasized the surveillance apparatus put in place against the population and political dissidents. He reported the case of Narmin Karimi, who was captured by security forces at her place in exchange of her hiding brothers - they never heard back from her. Mr Khosravi’s took the opportunity to denounce the increasing militarization of Kurdish cities in Iran, evident with his friend’s case in Sanandaj, who was arrested 30 minutes after his arrival to hospital, while receiving medical assistance. Criticizing the international community’s misconception of the Iranian President Hassan Rohani, assumed to be a moderate, Mr Khosravi clarified that, in fact, human rights violations have increased tremendously under his mandates as he benefits from the lack of international pressure.

Mr Baban Eliassi, representative of the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan, fathomed the several issues Iranian Kurds are facing since 1979. Since the emergence of the Islamic Revolution, Kurds organized themselves and tried to obtain their cultural and social rights.  Ayatollah Khomeini, however, declared a jihad against them, considering the status of ethnic minority to be against the principle of the Revolution. Naming some of the multidimensional discriminations Kurds in Iran are suffering today, Mr Eliassi remarked that the use of local language is forbidden and that no measures have been adopted to facilitate their social and political integration. He added that Kurdish region is economically deprived while, at the same time, the central government leads harsh policies of land exploitation. As a result, the entrenched poverty in the region leave many Kurds with no choice but to smuggle along Iranian borders. He reported the case of two kolber workers shot dead by governmental forces, leading shopkeepers to demonstrate in the streets of Sanandaj in solidarity for them.

The successful side-event showed that the Islamic Republic of Iran, despite being part to the UDHR and  to the ICCPR since 1975, does not guarantee the protection of its ethnic minorities. On the contrary, the regime has been systemically violating its international obligations by harassing minorities and cruelly conducting enforced disappearances of Iranian civilians. Although the Iranian regime has been targeting the universal framework of law to justify its systematic human rights violation, accusing it to promote a liberal and secular agenda, UNPO reminds that the non-respect of minorities’ rights not only violates international law but it is an offense to the Qur’an and the Sunnah, which entails the protection of ethnic minorities and prohibits legal distinctions based on ethnicity.  In this context, the side-event served to denounce once again at the United Nations Human Rights Council that the international community must hold Iran accountable for its blatant violation of international law.