UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet expressed alarm on Friday over multiple human rights violations in Iran in the wake of recent protests across the country.
Bachelet said that at least 7,000 people have reportedly been arrested in 28 of Iran’s 31 provinces since mass protests broke out on November 15, saying that she was “extremely concerned about their physical treatment, violations of their right to due process, and the possibility that a significant number of them may be charged with offences that carry the death penalty, in addition to the conditions under which they are held.”
She highlighted a continuing lack of transparency concerning casualties, the alleged mistreatment of thousands of detainees and continued arrests reported throughout Iran, after weeks of protests which began over major increases in petrol prices.
“In such circumstances, with so many reported deaths, it is essential the authorities act with far greater transparency,” added Bachelet.
The UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR) has information suggesting that at least 208 people were killed during five days of demonstrations, which official Government sources said involved between 120,000 and 200,000 protestors. Other, yet unverified reports convey the number of deaths to be more than doubled that.
She pointed out that there appear to be “multiple violations of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Iran has ratified and is obliged to uphold.”
Security forces responded to unarmed protesters with water cannon, tear gas, batons and live ammunition. And according to some reports, said OHCHR, the Basij militia and Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps used live ammunition against demonstrators.
She added that OHCHR has also received footage showing security forces shooting unarmed demonstrators from behind as they ran away and other straight on “in other words shooting to kill”.
OHCHR has also received numerous reports of ill-treatment against those arrested, including forced confessions.
“These are clear violations of international norms and standards on the use of force, and serious violations of human rights”, underscored the human rights chief.
As well as protestors, bystanders and people watching from their homes were reportedly hit with bullets when Iranian security forces used machine guns against protesters in Jarahi Square in Mahshahr, on November 18.
Concerned over reports of journalist intimidation, with family members of Iranian journalists working for news channels based outside Iran reportedly summoned and threatened with reprisals by intelligence officials, the UN rights chief said, “the picture now emerging from Iran is extremely disturbing”.
She also urged the Government to respect Iranians’ right to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association.
The High Commissioner concluded by calling on the Government to investigate the “violations that have already occurred, to restrict the use of force to the greatest extent possible, as provided for under the relevant international norms and standards”. (Source: UN News)