UN rights body investigates Iran’s “deadly” crackdown on protesters

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At least 378 people, including 47 children, have been killed in the crackdown.

Geneva:

The United Nations’ highest human rights body will hold an emergency meeting this week to consider launching an international inquiry into the deadly crackdown on mass protests in Iran.

The UN Human Rights Council will hold a special session on Thursday on “the deteriorating human rights situation”, following a request from Germany and Iceland.

The rally follows two months of protests in Iran sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini after she was arrested for allegedly violating the country’s strict dress code for women based on Islamic Sharia law.

At least 378 people, including 47 children, have been killed since Amini’s death, according to the Norway-based group Iran Human Rights (IHR).

The demonstrations have spread across the country and have become a broad movement against the theocracy that has ruled Iran since the fall of the Shah in 1979.

Thousands of peaceful protesters have also been arrested, according to UN rights experts, many of them women, children and journalists, and six people have so far received death sentences for the demonstrations.

“Gender Dimensions”

During Thursday’s session, diplomats will consider a draft resolution presented by Germany and Iceland calling on the council to launch a high-level international inquiry to investigate all alleged violations related to Iran’s ongoing protests.

The so-called independent international fact-finding mission should, according to the text, include “the gender dimension of such violations” in its investigations.

The draft resolution, which is subject to change, calls on investigators to “gather, consolidate and analyze evidence of such violations, and preserve evidence” for future prosecution.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, who will attend the hearing, recently stressed on Twitter that such an investigation is vital because we “know how important it is to the victims that those responsible are held accountable”.

The draft text calls for Tehran to “cooperate fully” with the investigators, who should present a full report by March 2024.

Rights groups applauded the special session.

“We see such serious abuses in response to the protests,” Human Rights Watch’s Lucy McKernan told AFP.

“It’s the council’s job to respond,” she said, expressing the hope that countries would support the investigation, “so that there is at least an opportunity for accountability in the future.”

The support of 16 of the 47 members of the Human Rights Council – more than a third – is needed to convene a special session.

Germany and Iceland have so far received the support of 50 countries for their request for Thursday’s session, including 17 councillors.

Enough votes?

But just days before the event, it remained unclear whether they will collect the votes needed to pass their resolution.

The Human Rights Council has noted increasing resistance from countries such as China, Russia and Iran to attempts, often led by the West, to hold individual countries accountable for alleged violations.

Last month, Western countries and their allies suffered a crushing defeat in the council when their attempt to simply put the issue of China’s alleged widespread abuses in the Xinjiang region on the agenda was thwarted.

But Iran may have a harder time blocking Thursday’s resolution.

It does not have the same power over many of the councilors as Beijing.

And while China has never been on the council’s agenda, the body appointed a so-called special rapporteur for Iran back in 2011 and has voted every year since to renew that mandate.

Thursday’s meeting will also be a first opportunity for new UN rights chief Volker Turk to speak before the council.

He will open the session at 09:00 GMT, followed by statements by the Special Rapporteur and likely representatives of Iranian civil society.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is being published from a syndicated feed.)

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