UNPO and BHRG Submits a Report to the UN on the Baluch Protest in Zahedan, Sistan and Baluchestan Provinces on September 30, 2022, and its Aftermath
The Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) in close collaboration with the Baluchistan Human Rights Group (BHRG), has brought to the attention of the UN Special Rapporteurs a submission concerning ongoing rights violations suffered by the Baluch people in Iran. In particular, we would like to highlight the severe crackdown and human rights abuses faced by the Baluch minority following the Baluch Protest in Zahedan, Sistan and Baluchestan Provinces on September 30, 2022.
The peaceful protest on September 30, 2022, triggered by revelations of the killing of Miss Jina Mahsa Amini for the 'improper' wearing of her hijab and the rape of a 15-year-old Baluch girl, was met with a brutal and disproportionate response from Iranian security forces. This excessive use of force resulted in numerous casualties and grave human rights violations, including arbitrary arrests, torture, and extrajudicial killings. The Baluch people, an ethnic and religious minority, have long experienced discrimination and marginalization under the Iranian regime, including limited access to education, healthcare, employment, and the freedom to express their culture and religion.
The report, compiled by BHRG and UNPO offers information on the Baluch Protest in Zahedan, Sistan and Baluchestan Provinces on September 30, 2022, and its aftermath. The report sheds light on the excessive and disproportionate use of force by Iranian security forces, which resulted in numerous casualties, arbitrary arrests, and extrajudicial killings. The annex provides a list compiled by BHRG of individuals confirmed killed from the 30th September protests, as well as details on child victims and the executions which followed the protests, as well as photographic evidence pertaining to these events.
These grave violations of human rights underscore the urgent need for international attention and action to address the ongoing atrocities faced by the Baluch minority in Iran.
Overview: 30th September Protests
The grievances of the Baluch people came to the forefront following the rape of a 15-year-old Baluch girl by the Police chief in the port city of Chabahar, along with the murder of Miss Jina Mahsa Amini, who was arrested by the morality police on accusation of her of violating the mandatory dress code by wearing an "improper hijab." After spending three days in a coma at a local hospital, Jina Mahsa Amini tragically passed away while in police custody. These incidents sparked widespread protests across Iran, particularly starting 30th September 2022. The protests denounced the human rights abuses in Iran, especially those targeting Iranian women.
However, the response from the Iranian authorities was marked by a severe crackdown on the protests. Security forces deployed excessive and disproportionate force against the peaceful demonstrators. The authorities employed tactics such as tear gas, baton charges, and even live ammunition to disperse the protesters. In a single day, more than 80 Baluch protesters and bystanders including 15 children and one woman were killed in a single day while injuring over 300 other participants in the protest. The 30th September has since been known by the population as “Joomae Khooni” (bloody Friday) in Baluchistan and Iran. The use of lethal force against unarmed protesters highlights the authorities' disregard for the right to peaceful assembly and their willingness to resort to violence to suppress any kind of dissent.
Aftermath: Ongoing crackdown
Since then, Baluch protesters have continued to take to the streets, typically every Friday after morning prayer, demanding justice and an end to the systemic repression they have faced. In the aftermath of the protests, several concerning developments have unfolded:
Arrests and Detentions: Numerous individuals, including activists, protesters, and community leaders, have been subjected to arbitrary arrests and detentions. The BHRG has documented that, as of January 2023, a minimum of 93 Baluch citizens, including 15 teenagers under the age of 18 and 10 women, were arrested and detained after September 30, 2022. This has resulted in a climate of fear and further stifled freedom of expression and assembly.
Extrajudicial Killings: According to the Baluch Human Rights Group (BHRG) and local sources, security forces engaged in clashes resulting in the extrajudicial killings of at least 50 Baluch protesters, bystanders, and students, including children, during the period from October to January. Baluch human rights activists express grave concerns that the actual number of victims may be even higher.
Throughout Iran, Amnesty International reports that or the 300 deaths of protestors and bystanders recorded since the protests erupted, children represent 14% of the overall deaths. Of the recorded child victims, 40% belonged to the Baluchi minority. The repression extended beyond the protests, with reports of children being beaten to death, such as the case of Parmis Hamnava, a student who was publicly beaten in front of her classmates before later passing away due to her injuries and extensive bleeding. While the exact date of Parmis' death has not been confirmed, it was reported by the Halwash News Agency on October 30th, 2022.
Escalation of Executions: There has been an alarming escalation in the number of executions following the protests on September 30, 2022, with Baluch individuals being disproportionately targeted. The frequency of executions has intensified, with significant spikes reported in November 2022 and April-May 2023 (see annex of the attached report). These executions have raised concerns about due process, as defendants have faced limited access to legal representation and alleged torture or coerced confessions. The increased use of capital punishment in the aftermath of the protests has deepened human rights concerns within the Baluch community.
Intimidation and Harassment of Family Members: the persistent intimidation and harassment of dissidents family members has long been a tactic of the Iranian regime. Similar tactics were also seen after the Zahedan Massacre where like other parts of Iran, local sources from Baluchistan complained that the family members of killed and injured protestors were intimidated and harassed by security
Poisoning of Schoolgirls: Since November 30, 2022, over 1,000 Iranian schoolgirls in various cities across the country have reportedly experienced incidents of "mild poisoning," as stated by state media and officials. On March 7, 2023, the Baluchistan Human Rights Group (BHRG) received numerous reports from different cities in Baluchistan, indicating the poisoning of dozens of students in various girls' schools. Among the affected schools were Mahdia Primary Girls' School on Keshavarz Street, Qureshi Secondary Girls' School in Zahedan, and Haniyeh and Mahdia Girls' High Schools in Chabahar.
In light of this urgent situation, the UNPO and BHRG has presented the following recommendations to the UN Special Rapporteurs, with the aim of addressing the ongoing human rights violations and seeking justice for the Baluch people:
- To issue a communication to Iran asking the state to stop the excessive use of force against peaceful protestors,
- Conduct an independent and impartial investigation into the excessive use of force by Iranian security forces against protesters described in the submission, particularly those occurring on the 30th September and in the demonstrates that followed, with a specific focus on the Baluch region.
- Call upon the Iranian government to immediately release all those arrested, detained and sentenced including those sentenced to death, since 30th September 2022,
- Urge the Iranian government to ensure that all persons accused of any crime have access to a lawyer during all stages of the judicial process, including during the initial investigation and interrogation stage, ensure the right to a fair trial.
- Urge the Iranian government to end all forms of discrimination against the Baluch minority and take concrete steps to promote their socio-economic inclusion and cultural rights.
- Highlight the need for accountability and justice for the victims of violence and their families, including reparations and access to legal remedies.
The petition on the Daadkhast platform to implement these can be found here : https://www.daadkhast.org/petition/264668