Mar 29, 2019

Minorities in Iran: A joint UPR report

On Thursday 28 March 2019, UNPO submitted a report along with Ahwaz Human Rights Organization, Balochistan Human Rights Group, Komala Party of Iranian Kurdistan and Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan for the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) procedure at the Human Rights Council in the UN.


The report was prepared in a context of widespread international concern for the situation of human rights in Iran. As demonstrated by the European Parliament’s adoption on 14 March 2019 of a resolution on the human rights situation in Iran, there were no significant signs of improvement between 2014, when the last UN review of Iran was conducted, and 2019 with regard to the general human rights situation in Iran.


One consequence of the widespread human rights violations present in Iran is that the human rights concerns of non-Persian communities are often drowned out by the broader concerns with human rights in Iran more generally. Yet non-Persian communities – the Kurdish, Ahwazi Arab or Baloch communities in particular – often face these abuses in a great or more systematic scale. In addition, these people face human rights abuses specific to them.


Ahwazi Arabs

The Ahwazi Arabs are an indigenous people of the southwestern Iran province of Al-Ahwaz (officially known as “Khuzestan”), also known as Khuzestan or Arabistan. An autonomous emirate in the past, the region has experienced on-and-off autonomy and independence. One of this people’s main concerns has to do with the government policies used to destabilise the community and change the ethnic composition of the region, with practices of cultural and language rights suppression, land grabbing and forced migration. Ahwazi Arabs have also found themselves discriminated against and severely affected by a deliberate lack of support from the State for their socio-economic development.



The indigenous Baloch people, the majority of whom reside in the Balochistan region in southeast Iran, have experienced vast marginalisation since the division of their nation by the British and Persian Empires. Successive government-led demographic manipulations have aimed at reducing the Baloch community to a minority in their own region and discrimination has been institutionalised. Because of these policies, the province is one of Iran’s poorest and the Baloch are effectively becoming a minority in their homeland. Also in the Balochistan region, repression and physical violence have become an everyday reality, with the Baloch being systematically subjected to persecution, imprisonment, torture and arbitrary executions.


Iranian Kurds

The Kurdish region is located in the northwest region of Iran and holds a majority Kurdish population. Some of the main issues faced by Iran’s Kurds include political persecution and marginalisation. The Kurdish regions are neglected by the Iranian government and suffer military repression and economic hardship, leading to increasing levels of poverty and growing inequality. Forced evictions and a lack of access to housing have led many to resort to living in precarious and unsafe conditions. Kurds also suffer from cultural, religious and political repression. They currently make up the majority of Iran’s political prisoners of conscience.


In light of these concerns, and specific instances of human rights violations identified by the UNPO and its partner organizations, the report called on the Iranian authorities to:

  • Put an end to the targeted attacks and disproportionate and discriminatory use of security rules against those working for the rights of non-Persian communities, including those operating internationally.
  • Safeguard the existence of non-Persian communities through environmental protection and legal and practical guarantees related to freedom of religion, cultural expression and language, including through guarantees to religious education and minority language education in Iran.
  • Ensure that the existence of a multicultural Iran is recognized both in law and in practice, guaranteeing political structures that enable all of the peoples of Iran to freely control their economic, social and cultural development and to participate in public life at all levels.


Find the full report here