UN Human Rights Office Calls Out Iranian Crackdown on Critical Voices
In a statement released October 2, 2012, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights of the United Nations expressed its concern over “the arrest and imprisonment of several prominent human rights defenders, journalists and political activists in … Iran in the past two weeks.” The OHCHR warned of “a further severe clamp down [sic] on critical voices in the country.”
The statement references six specific cases of human rights defenders, journalists, and activists imprisoned in Iran in the last two weeks of September 2012. The OHCHR expressed concern about lawyer Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, co-founder of the Defenders of Human Rights Center, imprisoned September 29; journalist Mehdi Rahmanian, publisher of the Daily Shargh, arrested September 26; journalist Ali Akbar Javanfekr, press advisor to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and head of Iran’s state-run news agency (IRNA), arrested September 26; journalist Parisa Hafezi, Reuters Iran bureau chief, charged with spreading propaganda; former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani’s daughter and son Faezeh Hashemi and Mehdi Hashemi Rafsanjani, arrested on September 22 and 24 for their participation in a 2011 opposition rally and the 2009 post-election protests. The statement also mentioned lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, an internationally prominent human rights defender and nominee for the Martin Ennals human rights award, currently serving a six-year sentence.
“The arrests and harsh sentences imposed on such figures reflect a disturbing trend apparently aimed at curbing freedom of expression, opinion and association, which are guaranteed by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a State party,” the OHCHR statement said.
“We urge the Government of Iran to promptly release all those who have been arrested for peacefully exercising their fundamental rights,” it concluded.