Iranian Diplomats Play Victim

(15 February 2010) Iran’s rejectionist initial response to recommendations by members of the international community to address grave human rights abuses during the UN’s Universal Period Review clearly demonstrates the need for a special session of the Human Rights Council and a special envoy dealing with these abuses, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran said today.

“The Iranian government has turned the 1979 Revolution to a revolution against the human rights of its own citizens, and an attempt to turn back progress on human rights on the global scene,” said Hadi Ghaemi, spokesperson for the Campaign.

“The UPR shows that Iran’s practices trash the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Iran’s legal obligations, and that more needs to be done—beyond the UPR—to help it understand and implement them.”

Iran was urged to end juvenile executions and stonings, the killing of peaceful demonstrators, torture and rape in prisons, unfair trials, the mass detention of peaceful political protesters and journalists, discrimination against women and minorities, the decriminalization of same-sex consensual activity, and the persecution of critical nongovernmental organizations. Numerous delegations urged Iran to cooperate with UN human rights mechanisms.

The Iranian delegation, led by Mohammed Larijani, Secretary General of Iran’s High Council for Human Rights, pushed back against the recommendations, citing articles of the Iranian constitution that should protect human rights, ands stating, inter alia, that “No Baha’i is prosecuted because he is a Baha’i” and that jailed and prosecuted demonstrators were guilty of “terrorist activities.” Larijani noted the “biting language” by “Western delegations.”

The Iranian delegation also claimed that “no one in Iran is detained or prosecuted as a human rights defender. Such cases involve charges of terrorism and espionage.” The Campaign strongly condemns this inaccurate statement and notes that several human rights defenders are currently imprisoned solely because of their human rights work.

Emad Baghi, prominent human rights defender and winner of 2009 Martin Annals Award is in incommunicado detention. Mohammad Sadiq Kaboudvand is serving an eleven years prison sentence solely for his human right activism and the evidence against him included submissions to the human rights mechanism of the United Nations. Seven members of the Committee of Human Rights Reporters, Shiva Nazarahari, Parisa Kakaie,  Mehrdad Rahimi, Saeed Kalanaki, Saeed Jalalifar, Kouhyar Goudarzi and Saeed Hayeri are currently in detention. Kaveh Ghasemi Kermanshahi  and Rashid Esmaeli are two other human rights defenders currently in detention.

“Iran has played the blameless victim while it brutally victimizes its people,” Ghaemi said. “If Iran’s irresponsible performance today is an indication of its response to the international community’s constructive recommendations, then it will not make use of the opportunity offered by the UPR to improve human rights.”

The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran called upon the Islamic Republic to take the international community’s recommendations seriously and to accept them in its response to the Review.