TEHRAN: Iran’s foreign ministry has condemned a United Nations Human Rights Council decision to probe the country’s response to unrest following the death of Mahsa Amini.
A majority of the 47-member council backed launching a probe of Iran’s response to the ongoing protests, as the resolution was adopted on Thursday with 25 votes in favour, 16 abstaining and only six countries — Armenia, China, Cuba, Eritrea, Pakistan and Venezuela — opposing it.
Iran “totally rejects” the resolution, the foreign ministry said, adding that the country had already formed a national commission of inquiry involving legal experts and “independent representatives”.
“The formation of any new mechanism to examine the incidents over the past two months in Iran is useless and represents a violation of the country’s national sovereignty,” the statement added.
Foreign ministry calls the move ‘violation of Iran’s national sovereignty’
Government officials have blamed the “riots” on “foreign enemies” in the West whom they accuse of inciting law-breaking.
Iran has seen more than two months of demonstrations sparked by the death in custody of 22-year-old Kurdish-Iranian woman Mahsa Amini. She had been arrested for an alleged breach of the country’s strict dress code for women.
Tehran accused Germany and other countries which supported the resolution of making “false and provocative allegations about violating men, women and children’s rights, which Iran denies”.
“This resolution was made under pressure from certain political lobbies that depend on false information spread by anti-Iranian media,” the foreign ministry charged.
It decried a “strategic error by Germany and certain Western countries” and said “this blindness will be detrimental to their interests”.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken hailed the vote, saying it showed the top UN rights body “recognises the gravity of the situation in Iran”.
“The fact-finding mission established today will help ensure that those engaged in the ongoing violent suppression of Iranian people are identified and their actions documented,” he said in a statement.
The vote came at the end of an urgent session requested by Germany and Iceland to discuss the situation in Iran, rocked by two months of protests.
During Thursday’s session, UN rights chief Volker Turk insisted “the unnecessary and disproportionate use of force must come to an end.” He told reporters he had offered to visit Iran but had received no response from Tehran.
Iranian authorities have grown increasingly heavy-handed in their response to the demonstrations as they have spread across the country and swelled into a broad movement against the theocracy that has ruled Iran since 1979.
The UN rights chief during Thursday’s session insisted “the unnecessary and disproportionate use of force must come to an end”. Turk, who told reporters he had offered to visit Iran but had received no response from Tehran, said over 300 people had been killed since Amini’s death.
Norway-based group Iran Human Rights has put the toll above 400, including more than 50 children.
Around 14,000 people, including children, had been arrested over the protests, he said, describing this as “a staggering number”, and decried the fact that at least six death sentences had been handed down to demonstrators.
Among those arrested have been a number of celebrities who have expressed support for the protesters, including Iranian national team footballer Voria Ghafouri, arrested on Thursday for “anti-state propaganda”.
A long line of Western diplomats took the floor in Geneva on Thursday to denounce the crackdown in Iran. German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock called on all countries to back the independent international fact-finding mission to probe all abuses connected with the ongoing protests, to ensure “those responsible can be held to account”.
“Impunity prevents justice. Justice for sisters, sons, mothers. They have names. Jina, Abolfazl, Minoo,” she said, listing some of the many killed.
Published in Dawn, November 26th, 2022