UNSR - human rights situation in Iran "deeply concerning"
Iranian authorities continue to attack freedom of expression and target journalists, bloggers and media organisations. On 25th October 2017, BBC World service requested that the UN investigate an order previously made by the Iranian authorities to freeze the BBC’s assets, as reported by the Monitor in the most recent country update. The BBC director stated that:
“The Iranian government is conducting what appears to be a politically motivated investigation into 152 BBC Persian staff, former staff and contributors, accusing them of conspiracy against national security in Iran".
The Gulf Centre for Human Rights, the Centre for Human Rights in Iran and Iranian parliamentarian Fatemah Saidi have expressed concern over the ongoing solitary confinement of Sasan Aghaei, deputy editor in chief of Etemad newspaper, who has been held since 12th August 2017, as previously reported by the Monitor. In addition, Reporters Without Borders has expressed grave concerns over the prison conditions of three other detained journalists and citizen-journalists, namely Soheil Arabi, Mehdi Khazali and Ehssan Mazndarani.
The October 2017 report by the UN Special Rapporteur (UNSR) on Iran also focused on the lack of respect for and protection of freedom of expression, which had been violated during the electoral period. The UNSR urged the Iranian authorities to abide by their international obligations and immediately release all detained people who have been imprisoned for exercising their right to freedom of opinion and expression.
Peaceful protests over months of unpaid wages from the Heavy Equipment Production Company and Azarab Industries Company were reportedly disrupted by anti-riot police on 19th September 2017, according to the Center for Human Rights in Iran. Several participants were beaten and detained. One of the demonstrators claimed:
“We don’t know how many are in detention or what they have been charged with. But we think there are 20 to 30 in custody”.
On 25th September 2017, a large number of people in Iranian Kurdish-populated cities gathered to celebrate the referendum for an independent Kurdistan in Iraq. Although the protests were reportedly peaceful, on 26th September 2017, 27 people were reportedly arrested by Iranian authorities.
Dozens Arrested in Iran for Celebrating Iraqi Kurdish Independence “Yes” Vote https://t.co/CN1rmXgewG— IranHumanRights.org (@ICHRI) October 2, 2017
The UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Iran reported to the UN General Assembly in October 2017 describing the human rights situation in the country as “deeply concerning.” Regarding human rights defenders in particular, the Special Rapporteur stated that:
"Human rights defenders were suffering “harassment, intimidation, and prosecutions, some prisoners of conscience were on hunger strike, and some dual nationals had been arbitrarily deprived of their liberty".
Among those human rights defenders who remain in prison is 81-year-old Baquer Namazi, a former staff member with UNICEF, whose appeal sentence was denied in August 2017. There are grave concerns for Namazi’s deteriorating health. Namazi was arrested in February 2016 and sentenced to ten years imprisonment “for cooperating with the hostile government of America”.
Guterres asks Iran president to release former UN official, Baquer Namazihttps://t.co/MvD8vUT8cv— Middle East Monitor (@MiddleEastMnt) September 22, 2017