The UN Human Rights Council voted on Thursday to condemn the bloody crackdown on peaceful protests in Iran and create an independent fact-finding mission to investigate alleged abuses, particularly those committed against women and children.
A resolution introduced by Germany and Iceland was supported by 25 countries, including the United States and many European, Latin American, Asian and African nations. Six countries opposed the measure: China, Pakistan, Cuba, Eritrea, Venezuela and Armenia, while 16 abstained.
The United Nations’ top human rights official had earlier appealed to Iran’s government to stop the crackdown on protesters, but Tehran’s envoy to a special Human Rights Council on the “deteriorating” rights situation in the country was defiant and adamant, criticizing the initiative as “politically motivated”. .”
The protests were sparked by the death, more than two months ago, of Mahsa Amini, who was arrested by the moral police on September 13 for allegedly violating the country’s strict Islamic dress code. She died at the hospital three days later.
Thursday’s session in Geneva is the latest international effort to pressure Iran over its crackdown, which has already prompted international sanctions and other measures.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, who was present, said the situation presented “a test of our courage.”
“The United Nations was founded to protect the sovereignty of all states, but a regime that uses this power to violate the rights of its own people is violating the values of our United Nations,” he said.
“On many occasions, we have called on Iran to respect these rights to stop the violent suppression of protesters, the bloodshed, the arbitrary killings, the mass arrests, the death sentences,” Baerbock said. “The only response we received was more violence, more death.”
Khadijeh Karimi, Iran’s deputy vice president for Women and Family Affairs, criticized the Western effort as part of a “politically motivated move by Germany to distort the human rights situation in Iran.”
“The Islamic Republic of Iran deeply regrets that the Human Rights Council is being abused once again by some arrogant states to antagonize a sovereign UN member state that is fully committed to its obligation to promote and protect human rights,” it said. Karimi.
He praised his government’s efforts to promote the role of women in the workplace and higher education and accused Western countries of turning a blind eye to rights abuses in places like Yemen, Palestinian areas or against indigenous peoples. in Canada, which the Canadian government has recognized. .
Karimi acknowledged Amini’s “unfortunate demise” and said “necessary steps” were taken afterwards, including setting up a parliamentary commission of inquiry. He accused Western countries of stoking unrest and violence by interfering in Iran’s internal affairs.
UN human rights chief Volker Türk has expressed concern that Iran’s government has not been listening to the world community.
“The people of Iran, from all walks of life, of all ethnicities, of all ages, are demanding change. These protests have their roots in the denial of long-standing freedoms, in legal and structural inequalities, in the lack of access to information and internet blackouts,” he said.
“I call on the authorities to stop using violence and harassment against peaceful protesters and to release all those arrested for peaceful protest and, crucially, to impose a moratorium on the death penalty,” he added.
The German-Icelandic proposal was aimed at increasing the scrutiny that for years has been carried out by the 47-member council’s “special rapporteur” on Iran, whose efforts have been rejected by Islamic Republic leaders.
Western diplomats say Tehran has led a quiet effort in Geneva and beyond to try to avoid further scrutiny through the new council resolution being considered on Thursday.
The council will now set up a “fact-finding mission” to investigate rights violations “especially with regard to women and children” linked to the protests that broke out on September 16. It also demands that Tehran cooperate with the special rapporteur, such as by allowing access to areas inside Iranian territory, including places of detention.
The team is expected to report to the council in mid-2023.