Middle East

Iran’s repression of protesters and women amounts to ‘crimes against humanity,’ UN report says

By Eve Brennan and Jomana Karadsheh, CNN

CNN  —  Iran’s “repression of peaceful protests” and “institutional discrimination against women and girls” has led to human rights violations, some of which amount to “crimes against humanity,” according to a United Nations’ report.

Such violations and crimes include “extrajudicial and unlawful killings and murder, unnecessary and disproportionate use of force, arbitrary deprivation of liberty, torture, rape, enforced disappearances, and gender persecution,” the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights (OHCHR) said in a press release Friday.

It cited a report by the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on the Islamic Republic of Iran, a task force set up by the UN Human Rights Council to look at claims of deteriorating human rights conditions in Iran.

The report said these violations came about in the context of the “Woman, Life, Freedom” protests sparked by the death of 22-year-old Iranian-Kurdish woman Jina Mahsa Amini in September 2022 after she was arrested for allegedly not observing Iran’s mandatory hijab law.

She became the face of women calling for greater rights and freedoms curtailed since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Protests erupted across Iran again in September last year on the first anniversary of her death.

The mission said it found that physical violence while in custody of the morality police, a unit dedicated to enforcing strict dress codes for women, such as wearing the compulsory headscarf, led to Mahsa Amini’s “unlawful death.”

“Rather than investigating this unlawful death promptly, effectively, and thoroughly – as required under international human rights law – the government actively obfuscated the truth, and denied justice,” the UN press release read.

In a government crackdown against the country-wide protests, Iran mobilized “the entire security apparatus of the state to repress” protesters, the UN Office said, adding that as many as 551 protesters are thought to have been killed by security forces, among them at least 49 women and 68 children.

The UN Fact-Finding Mission found evidence that forces used “unnecessary and disproportionate force” resulting in “unlawful killing and injuries of protesters,” the UN Office said, citing “a pattern of extensive injuries to protesters’ eyes,” which CNN had previously reported on. 

Iranian demonstrators take to the streets of the capital Tehran during a protest for Mahsa Amini, days after she died in police custody.

CNN report in November 2022 also found that Iran’s security forces used rape to quell protests in the country.

The UN report found that state authorities at the highest levels “encouraged, sanctioned and endorsed human rights violations through statements justifying the acts and conduct of the security forces.”

Authorities in Iran have also obstructed repatriation efforts of victims and their families, the UN said the mission found, adding that victims face a justice system lacking “independence, transparency and accountability.”

Chair of the Fact-Finding Mission Sara Hossain urged Iran’s government to stop repressing peaceful protesters, particularly women and girls.

“These acts form part of a widespread and systematic attack directed against the civilian population in Iran, namely against women, girls, boys and men who have demanded freedom, equality, dignity and accountability,” she said, according to the OHCHR.

Related Articles

Back to top button