UN condemns Iran for continuing human rights violations

November 20, 2015
An interior view of the United Nations General Assembly hall, New York City. UN Photo/Sophia Paris

UNITED NATIONS, United States — The UN expressed "serious concern" yesterday over Iran's continuing human rights violations, affirming that increased engagement with the international community on some fronts does not mean that Iran is no longer expected to uphold international standards for its people.

"In September, President Hassan Rouhani told the UN a 'new chapter' had been opened this year for his country, but the passage of this resolution today shows that the international community still expects action on human rights, not mere words," said Bani Dugal, the principal representative of the Baha'i International Community to the United Nations, following the UN vote.

Ms. Dugal noted that at least (20) Baha'is in Tehran and elsewhere were arrested last weekend, and at least (28) Baha'i-owned shops were sealed in a continuation of the government's campaign of economic repression against Baha'is. (See Editor's note below.)

"The sad fact is that human rights violations in Iran have continued unabated since President Rouhani came to power two years ago, as is shown by Iran's ongoing arrests and shop closures—and by the depth and strength of this resolution," said Ms. Dugal.

Tally board from the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly passes resolution on the promotion and protection of human rights in Iran. Slideshow
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Tally board from the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly passes resolution on the promotion and protection of human rights in Iran.

"The resolution cites a wide range of abuses, such as the lack of due process, widespread discrimination against women and the persecution of minorities, including members of the Baha'i Faith," said Ms. Dugal.

The resolution was passed by the Third Committee of the General Assembly, which monitors human rights issues worldwide. The vote was 76 to 35 with 68 abstentions.

Among other things, the resolution expresses "serious concern" about "ongoing severe limitations and restrictions on the right to freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief".

It also urges the government to release the seven imprisoned Baha'i leaders, and "to eliminate, in law and in practice, all forms of discrimination, including the closure of businesses, and other human rights violations against persons belonging to recognized and unrecognized religious minorities".

"The resolution is quite specific in detailing all of the human rights violations that are currently ongoing in Iran, and it also lays out clearly how Iran could live up to its obligations under international law," said Ms. Dugal.

"For example, it calls on Iran to cooperate fully with the Special Rapporteur on human rights in Iran by accepting, for example, his repeated request to visit the country, and it asks Iran to follow through on recommendations made at the Universal Periodic Review last year," said Ms. Dugal.

The resolution was put forward by Canada and co-sponsored by 42 other countries. It follows reports on human rights in Iran by Ahmed Shaheed, the Special Rapporteur on human rights in Iran and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who both expressed concern over Iran's continued violations of international human rights law.

For more information, go to https://www.bic.org

(Editor's note: On 24 November 2015, two corrections were made in paragraph three to more accurately reflect the number of arrests and shop closures that occurred on the weekend of 13 to 15 November.)