“The people of Iran are crying out for something so simple, something most of us take for granted: the ability to speak up and be heard,” US Ambassador Michèle Taylor said, members of her delegation brandishing photos and names of the victims.
The 47 member states of the highest UN human rights body are urgently discussing the “deterioration of the human rights situation” at the initiative of Germany and Iceland.
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“The unnecessary and disproportionate use of force must stop. Old ways and the beleaguered fortress mentality of those in power just don’t work. In fact, they only make the situation worse,” UN human rights chief Volker Türk said at the opening of the meeting.
He denounced those who “seek to delegitimize protesters, civil society representatives and journalists and cast them as agents in the service of enemies and foreign states”, calling these methods a “usual narrative of tyranny”. .
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For two months, the repression has killed at least 416 people, including 51 children, according to the NGO Iran Human Rights (IHR), based in Norway. This wave of protest – born of demands for women after the death of Mahsa Amini arrested for having worn the Islamic veil incorrectly and which turned into a challenge to power – is unprecedented since the Islamic Revolution of 1979.
According to the UN Special Rapporteur on Iran, more than 15,000 people have been arrested. Iranian justice has already pronounced six death sentences in connection with the demonstrations. The Council must decide whether to appoint a team of high-level investigators to shed light on all human rights violations linked to the repression of the demonstrations.
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“This resolution, if passed, matters a lot. We don’t know if (…) it can save lives tomorrow. But what we know for sure is that it will mean justice, justice for the people,” German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock told reporters in Geneva.
According to the draft resolution presented by Germany and Iceland, this independent international fact-finding mission – which has little chance of being able to go to Iran – will have to collect evidence of violations and store it in such a way as to can be used for possible future prosecutions.
“Woman, Life, Freedom”. It is with this slogan, so simple and so strong, that Iranian men and women have been recalling, for more than two months, the values they defend,” declared the French representative, Emmanuelle Lachaussée.
“Dialogue and Cooperation”
Tehran for its part is scrambling to find enough allies to defeat the resolution, while the German foreign minister has encouraged countries that generally vote with Iran to have the courage to abstain. According to several diplomatic sources, the resolution should be adopted.
The Iranian representative sent by Tehran, Khadijeh Karimi, accused Western countries of “lacking moral credibility” to lecture Iran by denouncing American and European sanctions.
Unsurprisingly, China, Venezuela and Cuba lent their support to Iran, with Chinese Ambassador Chen Xu defending as usual “dialogue and cooperation (…) to promote and protect human rights” .
Pakistan also stressed the importance of obtaining the consent of the country concerned to launch investigations, but Brazil, another leading developing country, announced that it would abstain during the vote.
A growing resistance – under the leadership of Russia, China or even Iran – is building within the Council against the efforts often initiated by Western democracies to condemn individual states for human rights violations. .
These countries suffered a bitter defeat last month, when they tried to put on the Council’s agenda a debate on the repression carried out by Beijing in the Xinjiang region.