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Monday, October 19, 2009

UN lists Iranian human rights violations; media ignores it

A few days ago, UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon issued a report on the state of human rights in Iran. It is only 18 pages long, and Moon bends over backwards to find positive things to say about some trends, but on the whole it is a pretty damning document in its details. Some excerpts:
The year also saw, however, an increase in human rights violations targeting women, university students, teachers, workers and other activist groups, particularly in the aftermath of the elections.

The death penalty continued to be widely applied, including in some cases involving juveniles. There were at least some cases of stoning and public execution, despite moves by the authorities to curb such practices. Cases of torture, amputation and flogging and suspicious deaths and suicides of prisoners while in custody were also reported.

On 19 June 2009, five independent United Nations experts in a press statement voiced grave concern about the use of excessive police force, arbitrary arrests and killings. They noted that, while the protests had largely been peaceful, violent clashes with security forces had resulted in the death, injury and arrest of numerous individuals.

The Special Rapporteur ... cited a number of different torture methods, including sleep deprivation, beatings, stress positions and lack of access to health care. The individuals allegedly subjected to such treatment included members of student groups, religious groups, journalists, human rights defenders, union campaigners, social activists, individuals who had committed crimes as juveniles and individuals associated with various minority groups, including the Baha’i, Azerbaijani and Kurdish segments of the Iranian population.

In the Islamic Republic of Iran, the death penalty is imposed for certain hudud
crimes, including adultery, incest, rape, fornication for the fourth time by an
unmarried person, drinking alcohol for the third time, sodomy, sexual conduct
between men without penetration for the fourth time, lesbianism for the fourth time,
fornication by a non-Muslim man with a Muslim woman and false accusation of
adultery or sodomy for a fourth time. Furthermore, the death penalty can be applied
for the crimes of enmity with God (mohareb) and corruption on earth (mofsed fil
arz) as one of four possible punishments. Under the category of ta’zir crimes, the
death penalty can be imposed for “cursing the Prophet” (article 513 of the Penal
Code). The death penalty can also be applied to such crimes as the smuggling or
trafficking of drugs, murder, espionage and crimes against national security.

According to Amnesty International, eight juvenile offenders were executed in 2008, and to date three have reportedly been executed in 2009.

OHCHR continues to receive reports of human rights abuses against minorities in the Islamic Republic of Iran. While it is impossible to verify all the information received, a pattern of concern arises with respect to the protection of minorities, including the Baha’i community, the Arab minority in Khuzestan, the Nematollahi Sufi Muslim community, the Kurdish community, the Sunni community, the Baluchi community and the Azeri-Turk community.

As highlighted in the previous report of the Secretary-General, serious restrictions remain on the right to freedom of opinion and expression in the Islamic Republic of Iran. The Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and expression issued a number of urgent appeal letters expressing serious concerns over allegations received that groups such as journalists, students, poets and human rights defenders had been arrested and imprisoned.
Don't expect to see anything about this report in the New York Times, or the BBC. It has received practically no publicity from the media outside the Baha'i community. (Al Arabiya mentioned it because it was the first time the UN acknowledged Iranian persecution of their Arab minority in Khuzestan.)