Iran protests: UN body launches human rights investigation

Iran protests: UN body launches human rights investigation
Hundreds of people have been killed in protests in Iran, including at least 40 children, after the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini. Credit: Nicolas Maeterlinck / Belga.

The UN Human Rights Council (OHCHR) has set up a fact-finding mission related to the protests that began in Iran after the murder of 22-year-old Jina Mahsa Amini, following calls from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, to carry out an independent investigation into the ongoing deadly violence against protesters.

The UN High Commissioner highlighted how the security forces "have used live ammunition, birdshot and other metal pellets, teargas and batons" against the protesters as the movement spread to a reported 150 cities and 140 universities throughout Iran.

"It pains me to see what is happening in the country," Türk told the packed chamber. "The images of children killed. Of women beaten in the streets. Of people sentenced to death."

Iranian denial and blame shifting

Before calling for the independent investigation into all alleged rights violations, the UN human rights chief noted that his office had received multiple accusations from Iran about the situation, "including domestic investigations... [which] have failed to meet international standards of impartiality, independence and transparency".

Also speaking at the Session, Javaid Rehman, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran, insisted that efforts to silence the protesters had intensified, including against children, in the past week.

According to Rehman, the Government refuted the killings of children by security forces by claiming that they "committed suicide, fell from a height, were poisoned or killed by anonymous 'enemy agents'."

Iran’s representative, Khadijeh Karimi, Deputy of the Vice President for Women and Family Affairs, insisted that "necessary measures" had been taken by the Government to seek justice after Ms. Amini’s death, blaming Western authorities for their interventions in Iran's internal affairs.

Protesters threatened with death

More than 300 people have been killed in protests, including at least 40 children, since the death of Mahsa Amini, following her arrest 13 September for not wearing her hijab properly, according to the latest information from the OHCHR.

Besides those killed, at least 15,000 have been arrested and according to Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock of Germany, "the Iranian regime is now threatening protesters with the death penalty".

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United States Ambassador for Human Rights in Geneva Michèle Taylor told the Council that the people of Iran were "demanding something so simple, something that most of us here take for granted: the opportunity to speak and to be heard."

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