United Nations General Assembly condemns Iran’s human rights record

New York, Dec. 19, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- A resolution calling on the Iranian government to end its discrimination of minorities in Iran, including of the Baha’i community, Iran’s largest non-Muslim religious minority, has been approved by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly. The resolution was first passed by the General Assembly’s Committee on Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Issues, also known as the Third Committee, in November.

The resolution, introduced by Canada and 50 co-sponsors from all regions, passed by 80 votes in favor, with 29 against and 65 abstentions.

In remarks delivered at the Third Committee introduction of the resolution, Canada said it was concerned about “persistent violations, especially the systematic persecution of ethnic and religious minorities, including the Baha'i” community. New Zealand called for “accountability for the ongoing systemic repression … of ethnic and religious minority communities, including the Baha’i” community. And the United Kingdom cited the “systematic repression of minority groups” while Australia criticized the Iranian government for “unjustifiable discrimination against ethnic and religious” minorities.

“The international community is calling on the Iranian government to stop violating the rights of minorities and to respect the rights of all Iranian citizens, including the Baha’is,” said Bani Dugal, the Baha’i International Community’s Principal Representative to the United Nations. “The Baha’is in Iran know how it feels to be detained on false charges, held without due process, mistreated during interrogation, for families to fear for their loved ones, and to be slandered by the state, all for standing up for their beliefs. No one in Iran should have to experience the injustice that is unfolding across the country.”

Resolutions on Iran’s human rights situation have been tabled and approved each year since the early 1980s, making it one of the UN’s most enduring human rights concerns, and one of only 14 current country-specific mandates. But the Iranian government is under unprecedented pressure this year because of increasingly violent and repressive actions by the authorities against their own citizens. The UN’s Human Rights Council voted on 24 November to create a special fact-finding mission to investigate the current crisis.

The General Assembly vote also follows recent news that Mahvash Sabet and Fariba Kamalabadi, two Iranian Baha’i women and prisoners of conscience, who are seen by many as symbols of resilience in Iran, have each been sentenced to a second 10-year jail term.

More than 320 Baha’is have been affected by individual acts of persecution since the 31 July arrest of Mahvash and Fariba. Dozens were arrested at various points in Shiraz, across Mazandaran province, and elsewhere throughout the country. Homes owned by Baha’is in the village of Roshankouh were demolished. Government plans to tar the Baha’is through hate speech and propaganda were also exposed. And at least 90 Baha’is are currently in prison or subject to degrading ankle-band monitoring.

“The whole world sees every day the bravery and heroism of all Iranians, especially women, as they stand fast and sacrifice themselves to demand justice and equality in the face of the violent and brutal repression of their rights,” Ms. Dugal added. “The resilience shown by the Baha’is over 43 years of persecution is an inseparable part of this story. Let this be the last year that Iran is hauled before the United Nations to be rebuked for human rights violations. Iranians deserve to be governed in a manner which they choose – and they are choosing human rights for all.”