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Politics

Attempts to Derail Human Rights Council Session on Iran

July 7, 2023
Faramarz Davar
4 min read
Sara Hossain, chair of the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on the Islamic Republic of Iran, reported that the Iranian authorities continue their brutal crackdown on peaceful protesters
Sara Hossain, chair of the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on the Islamic Republic of Iran, reported that the Iranian authorities continue their brutal crackdown on peaceful protesters
Kazem Gharibabadi, deputy chief of the Iranian judiciary, left the meeting of the UN Human Rights Council to protest the report by the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on the Islamic Republic of Iran
Kazem Gharibabadi, deputy chief of the Iranian judiciary, left the meeting of the UN Human Rights Council to protest the report by the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on the Islamic Republic of Iran
The UN Human Rights Council gathered in Geneva to hear and discuss the report on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic
The UN Human Rights Council gathered in Geneva to hear and discuss the report on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic

223 days after the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) passed a resolution on November 24, 2022, to establish a fact-finding mission to investigate human rights violations in Iran, the council heard the mission’s first oral update.

The HRC and representatives of member states reviewed and commented on the report on July 5, with the Islamic Republic and its allies trying to disrupt the proceedings eight times.

In her statement, Sara Hossain, chair of the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission (FMM) on the Islamic Republic of Iran told the HRC, representatives of member countries and human rights organizations that widespread violations of human rights continue to be perpetrated in the country. Hossain pointed out that seven men have been executed in connection with last year’s nationwide protests “following hasty proceedings marred by serious allegations of fair trial violations, including confessions extracted under torture.” She also warned that reports continue to emerge of arrests and detentions of protesters, “including women and girls refusing to comply with the country’s forced veiling laws.”

“The FFM is seriously concerned at the reports, just two months after the protests started, of a series of alleged poisonings in dozens of [girls’] schools in 28 provinces, affecting directly and indirectly, the human rights of thousands of girls, including their right to access education,” the Bangladeshi lawyer added. “Reports that these may have been orchestrated as a means to punish girls for, or to deter them from involvement in the protests, are being duly investigated in the framework of our mandate.”

Iranian Representative Throws A Fit when Hearing Criticism

After the oral update by the FFM, Kazem Gharibabadi, the secretary of the Iranian judiciary’s High Council for Human Rights who was once the Islamic Republic’s permanent representative to the HRC, delivered an angry speech in which he rejected the establishment of the mission as "politically-motivated and unacceptable."

He then admonished the HRC for failing to investigate the riots in France that followed the shooting of a 17-year-old teenager by police. Of course, he ignored the fact that, unlike in Iran, police in France are not shooting protesters with battlefield guns.

After claiming that the “riots” in Iran were instigated by think tanks in the West and were stirred up by foreign intelligence services and a “television network” outside the country, he angrily left the meeting and passed his baton to another representative of the Islamic Republic who, throughout the rest of session, tried to disrupt the meeting by raising objections.

After the angry remarks by Gharibabadi, representatives of the council’s 47 member states and non-governmental human rights organizations were each given 90 seconds to deliver comments.

The representative of the Islamic Republic interrupted these speeches at least five times to object to the use of the word “regime” when referring to the Iranian government, calling it “disrespectful.” Venezuela, Russia and Zimbabwe also raised objections in support of the Islamic Republic.

The chair of the meeting pointed out that the term “regime” was used during previous HRC meetings and told the Iranian representative he would no longer be allowed to disrupt the session.

Nevertheless, the official interrupted speeches by member states in at least two instances, including when a representative of Ukraine criticized the Iranian government for sending armaments to Russia for use against Ukrainian civilians. This speech was also interrupted by the Russian representative.

As a result of these interruptions by Iran and its backers, the session went overtime by half an hour.

The Majority Stood Against the Islamic Republic

The speakers in the HRC meeting fell into two groups: a majority that supported the FFM and spoke against violations of human rights in Iran, and a minority that supported the Islamic Republic’s bloody crackdown on protesters.

Finland, Ukraine, Spain, the United States, Britain, France, Israel, Iceland, Romania, Belgium, Albania, North Macedonia, Austria, Irelan, Malta, Australia and Luxembourg expressed extreme concern at the violations of human rights in Iran, the execution of protesters, the sexual assault of prisoners and detainees, arbitrary arrests, and, of course, the poisoning of schoolgirls.

Meanwhile, representatives of North Korea, Russia, China, Cuba, Syria, Venezuela, Laos, Belarus, Nicaragua and Zimbabwe supported the Islamic Republic, calling the events in Iran an “internal” matter.

The Islamic Republic tried to increase the number of its supporters by bringing representatives of two pseudo-NGOs to the meeting. One of them blamed the sanctions imposed on Iran for being responsible for the widespread protests, while the other organization emphasized the Islamic Republic’s commitment to human rights.

This session ended after speeches by Shaheen Sardar Ali of Pakistan and Viona Kristovich of Argentina. Both speakers called on the Islamic Republic to cancel the death sentences handed down in connection with the protests.

FMM members asked the Islamic Republic to respect its commitments to human rights and to cooperate with the mission’s mandate. As of now, the Islamic Republic has ruled out any cooperation with the fact-finding mission.

The FFM is scheduled to present a comprehensive report on its findings to the Human Rights Council in March 2024, but it might not be its final report since the Islamic Republic continues to flagrantly violate human rights.

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