The United Nations Human Rights Council on Thursday launched an international investigation into the Islamic regime’s ongoing violence in Tehran against a 10-week protest movement sparked by the death in custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini.
The vote followed a rare special session by the UN body dedicated exclusively to the ongoing violence in Iran. A motion for an investigative mission on abuses against women and children, passed by 25 votes to 6, with 16 abstentions, was tabled by Germany and Iceland.
“It pains me to see what is happening in the country – images of dead children, of women being beaten in the streets,” said Volker Turk, UN high commissioner for human rights.
“The old ways and fortress mentality of those in power just don’t work. In fact, they only exacerbate the situation. We are now in the midst of a human rights crisis.”
At least 440 protesters were killed during protests in more than 150 towns and cities across Iran, according to Hrana, an Oslo-based human rights group. Another 18,000 people were also arrested.
Iran’s protest movement, sparked by the death of Amini while in moral police custody and led by women and youth, received international attention earlier this week after Iran’s national football team players refused to sing the national anthem in a match against England at the World Cup in Qatar.
On Thursday, regime agents arrested soccer star Voria Ghafouri, an ethnic Kurd, for speaking on behalf of the protesters. He was accused of insulting the national soccer team and propagating against the regime, according to the semi-official borna news.
Strikes and protests were also reported on Thursday across the country, especially in the ethnic Kurdish districts of western and northwestern Iran.
It remains unclear what effect, if any, the fact-finding mission will have on developments in Iran, where the regime is using weapons of war as well as mass arrests against a largely peaceful national uprising against Tehran’s authorities.
But an investigation with UN imprimatur could increase pressure against regime leaders and security forces, who could be accused of internationally recognized crimes against humanity, and perhaps accelerate possible defections or refusals to participate in the violence,” Quinn McKew, executive director, advocacy group Article 19, said in a statement.
“Those who commit human rights violations and crimes under international law, from commanders to those who open fire on demonstrators in the street and commit torture, should know that evidence of their actions will be collected and preserved, with a view to future criminal prosecutions.” , said.
In Geneva, Tehran dispatched Khadijeh Karimi, the deputy vice president of Iran for women and family affairs, to plead Iran’s case. She called the special session “politically motivated.”
“The Islamic Republic of Iran deeply regrets that the human rights council is being abused yet again by some arrogant states to antagonize a sovereign UN member state that is fully committed to its obligation to promote and protect human rights,” she said.
Another representative of the Tehran regime accused the West of repressing its own citizens.
“German, American, French and British women also deserve freedom from violence,” she said, calling the investigation “based on lies as a tool to achieve narrow goals by self-appointed guardians of human rights”.
Iran’s supporters, including Russia, China, Syria, North Korea, Venezuela, Belarus and other authoritarian states, argued that it was unfair for the council to single out Iran for its rights abuses, insisting the body’s aim was to work with members. states toward improvement rather than punishing alleged wrongdoing.
“All human rights must be treated fairly and equally,” said China’s envoy to the human rights council. “The national and regional specificity must be taken into account. The work of the human rights council must be truly conducive to the protection of human rights”.
But Western nations have rejected the argument. They named female protesters killed in the violence, including Sarina Esmailzadeh and 16-year-old Nika Shakarani. The US delegation received a gentle reprimand for keeping the photos and names of those killed in the violence.
“No culture condones the murder of women and children,” said Michele Taylor, US envoy to the council.
Others, including former Iranian business partners such as Germany, South Korea and Japan, accused Iran of violating basic rights to freedom of assembly and expression, as stipulated in international conventions to which Tehran is a signatory.
“We have on many occasions urged Iran to respect these rights, to stop the violent repression of demonstrators, bloodshed, arbitrary killings, mass arrests, death sentences,” said Anna Baerbock, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Iran. Germany. “The only response we got was more violence, more deaths.”
Diplomats have spoken out vehemently against the regime’s repression, emphasizing reports of violence against women and children. Threats by the Iranian authorities to impose the death penalty on protesters have attracted particular scrutiny. Both Ukraine and Lithuania have also raised the issue of Iran’s alleged arms sales to Russia, now used against Ukrainian civilians in the ongoing war in Moscow.
“This significant move towards accountability offers renewed hope to victims of the authorities’ bloody crackdown on the protests,” said Mr. McKew.
“By establishing an investigative accountability mechanism, the council has sent a clear and unequivocal message to the Iranian authorities that they cannot continue their brutal assault on human life with impunity. 🇧🇷