UN concerned about tougher crackdown on protesters

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, has expressed concern about the deployment of military reinforcements in certain Iranian regions where the demonstrations have intensified, saying he fears a hardening of the repression.

Quoted in a statement, Türk said that “the rising number of deaths from protests in Iran, including those of two children this weekend, and the toughening of the security forces’ response, underline the critical situation in the country.

“The lack of accountability for gross human rights violations persists and contributes to growing grievances,” he said.

Since the beginning of the national demonstrations on September 16, the services of the High Commissioner Türk have recorded more than 300 protesters killed, including more than 40 children.

Protesters killed in 25 of Iran’s 31 provinces

“Two 16-year-old boys were among the six people killed over the weekend,” said Jeremy Laurence, spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

Protesters were killed in 25 of Iran’s 31 provinces, including more than 100 in Sistan and Balochistan. Official Iranian sources have also said that a number of members of the security forces have been killed since the protests began.

“According to these sources, more than 40 people have been killed in mainly Kurdish towns over the past week,” Laurence added.

Iran is the scene of a protest movement sparked on September 16 by the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian girl arrested by the morality police for breaking the strict dress code requiring women to wear the veil.

The first demonstrations had broken out in Kurdish localities in the northwest, in particular in Saghez, the birthplace of Mahsa Amini, before spreading to other Iranian cities.

Thousands arrested and six protesters sentenced to death

On the ground, the repression does not weaken. According to the OHCHR, a significant number of security forces have also been deployed in recent days in certain regions. “Overnight, we received reports that security forces responded forcefully to protests in several mainly Kurdish towns, including Javanrud and Saqqez,” the OHCHR spokesperson said.

In addition, thousands of people have been arrested across the country for taking part in peaceful protests. At least six people linked to these protests have been sentenced to death. These protesters were found guilty of “making war on God” (“moharebeh”) and “corruption on earth” (“efsad-e fel-arz”), “for allegedly damaging public property”.

The UN Human Rights Office therefore calls on the Iranian authorities to immediately impose a moratorium on the death penalty and to quash death sentences handed down for crimes that do not qualify as the most serious crimes of international law.

Artists and athletes summoned or arrested

“The authorities’ apparent refusal to hand over the bodies of those killed to their families is of particular concern, as is the fact that they make the handover of the bodies conditional on the families not speaking to the media or agreeing to give a false version of the cause of death,” Türk services noted.

It is in this context that a growing number of people, including Iranian celebrities and sportspeople who have expressed support for the protests, have been summoned or arrested.

“We remind the Iranian authorities that under international human rights law, they have an obligation to respect and guarantee the rights to peaceful assembly and to freedom of expression,” the spokesperson said. OHCHR.

The High Commission urges Tehran to respond to people’s demands for equality, dignity and rights, instead of using “unnecessary or disproportionate force to quell protests”. The services of the High Commissioner Türk invite the Iranian authorities to release all the demonstrators, and to drop the charges against them.

Special session of the UN HRC on November 24

The United Nations Human Rights Council will hold an emergency session on Thursday 24 November in Geneva on the situation in Iran. This special session on “the deteriorating human rights situation” in Iran was formalized after a request from Germany and Iceland received the support of more than the required third of the 47 members of the Council .

Germany and Iceland’s request is backed by a provisional total of 44 UN member countries. Among the 17 member states of the Council, there are Western countries, but also Argentina, Japan, the Marshall Islands, Mexico and the Republic of Korea. The request was also supported by the 27 observer states including Colombia and Costa Rica.

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