Iran violations may amount to crimes against humanity - UN expert

Iranian authorities have committed violations since protests erupted last year that may amount to crimes against humanity, a UN expert has warned.

Special rapporteur Javaid Rehman told the UN Human Rights Council that he was alarmed by the scale and gravity of the reported cases of murder, imprisonment, enforced disappearance, torture, rape and persecution.

He called for an international fact-finding mission to investigate them.

Iran said the allegations were made up.

Protests swept across the Islamic Republic in September following the death in custody of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman who was detained by morality police in Tehran for allegedly wearing her hijab “improperly”.

Iran’s state coroner attributed her death to pre-existing medical conditions, but Mr Rehman said the evidence established that she died “as a result of beatings” by members of the morality police.

“State authorities have characteristically denied any wrongdoing or misconduct on their part and presented the results of the so-called investigations that were neither credible nor transparent,” he added.

Authorities have portrayed the women-led protests against the clerical establishment as “riots” and responded with what Mr Rehman described as “brutal” violence.

“Security forces have fired live ammunition, birdshot and other metal pellets directly at unarmed and peaceful protesters, among them many children and youth, who posed no imminent threat to life or serious injury, as well as at bystanders and those who were running away,” he said.

“Protesters, including children, [have been] beaten to death.”

The Human Rights Activists’ News Agency (HRANA) has reported that at least 530 protesters and 70 security personnel have been killed, while the judiciary has acknowledged that more than 22,000 people have been arrested.

Mr Rehman, who is a professor of law at London’s Brunel University, noted that many of those arrested alleged that they were subjected to torture and other ill-treatment while in detention.

“Children released have described sexual abuse, threats of rape, floggings, administration of electric shocks, and how their heads are held underwater, how they were suspended by their arms or from scarves wrapped around their necks.”

Four protesters have also been executed since December following what he called “arbitrary, summary and sham trials marred by torture allegations”. More than 100 others have reportedly been sentenced to death or charged with capital offences.

It comes amid a sharp increase in the number of executions in Iran, with 143 reported so far this year alone.

In response, Iranian ambassador Ali Bahreini said the allegations in Mr Rehman’s report “read like a tragic novel” and accused him of relying on Western governments, media outlets and “terrorist groups” who “portray their imaginations as the reality of the human rights situation in Iran”.


Source: BBC