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Iran Human Rights Record Condemned in UN Report

October 25, 2013 Leave a comment Go to comments

UN special rapporteur publishes report criticizing widespread abuses. A special UN rapporteur has condemned widespread human rights abuses in Iran.30 Iranian Human Rights

report published on Wednesday by Ahmed Shaheed detailed a rise in the number of jailed journalists over the past decade, including 23 since January, and other restrictions against freedom of expression such as the blocking of up to 5m websites. It also expressed alarm about proposed legislation that would allow a custodian to marry his adopted child, and said minority religious groups were being subjected to discrimination in employment and education, and were often arbitrarily arrested and tortured.

Shaheed welcomed the recent release of more than a dozen political prisoners and “a number of positive signals” from Rouhani, who has made several calls for change since taking office in August, including the lifting of restrictions on academic freedoms, increasing social media access and urging police not to crack down on perceived violations of Islamic dress codes for women.

“These signals I refer to raise the expectation of tangible and sustainable reforms,” Shaheed said in a speech presenting his report. He called for the release of hundreds more prisoners of conscience and urged Iran to respond to his numerous requests to visit the country.

In a written response, Iran rejected Shaheed’s report as “a biased approach” that relied on unconfirmed reports and did not “merit public trust or confidence”. Tehran defended its press freedom policies, saying they were in keeping with “the fundamental principles of Islam and the public rights” enshrined in Iran’s constitution.

Shaheed’s report said 40 journalists and 29 bloggers were serving sentences for offences from national security crimes to “spreading propaganda against the state”. He said that about 1,500 “anti-religious websites” were closed each month, including those containing content on the minority Wahhabi and Baha’i religions, as well as sites dedicated to news, music and women’s rights.

Shaheed said he was especially concerned that 786 people had been executed for drug trafficking offences since August 2011, when he became special rapporteur. He also lamented that the fact that homosexual acts and insulting Islamic prophets were considered capital offences and called on Iran to declare a moratorium on all executions. Flogging and amputations remain widespread.

In its response, Iran stood by the punishments in its penal code, saying they were carried out with due process and were based on Islamic law.

Shaheed detailed numerous allegations of abuse against religious minorities, including the jailing of 109 Baha’is as of May 2013 and 300 cases of abuse of Baha’i children in schools, where some youngsters are pressured to convert to Islam. Christians and Dervish Muslims faced similar discrimination, Shaheed said.

Iran’s government insisted that nobody was expelled from university or imprisoned merely for holding certain beliefs and accused Baha’i groups of staging a “political and media campaign”.

The Baha’i International Community, which says it represents five million members of the faith, rejected Iran’s defence and said little had changed for Baha’is since Rouhani’s election.

“What we see is the continuation of the usual tactics, attempting to delude the international community and to appease the family of nations, even as repression continues at home in full force,” said Bani Dugal, the group’s representative to the UN.

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Associated Press in New York – theguardian.com,

Thursday 24 October 2013

Related link – http://tinyurl.com/ktngq5d

 

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