As President Hassan Rouhani comes to NY to attend the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly, the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) urges the international community to directly address the worsening human rights situation in Iran with the Iranian president.
Diplomats should raise the issue of the arrests of peaceful activists, lawyers and others with Rouhani and the international media should hold Iranian officials accountable in interviews and press conferences by directly questioning them on the deteriorating rights situation in Iran, CHRI said in a statement today.
“For five years, the Rouhani administration has avoided taking responsibility for the human rights crisis in Iran by hiding behind arguments that they have no control over an ‘independent’ judiciary,” said Hadi Ghaemi, CHRI’s executive director.
“Yet Rouhani’s own Intelligence Ministry is among the major rights violators in Iran through its arrests of activists and lawyers,” Ghaemi added, “and an ‘independent’ judiciary should not mean it gets a free pass to lock up peaceful citizens at whim.”
As part of CHRI’s efforts to raise awareness and focus attention on the ongoing abuses, a mobile billboard displaying photos of some of the many political prisoners in Iran will traverse the area outside UN headquarters in NY during the meetings.
The prisoners featured on the truck’s panels represent only a fraction of the political prisoners being held in Iran. CHRI hopes the unjust conditions of their imprisonment—as well as the full range of rights violations in Iran—will be brought up directly when the world’s diplomats meet with their Iranian counterparts.
Over the last two years, there has been an intensification of state repression in Iran, especially as citizen protests over deteriorating economic conditions, corruption, and political and cultural repression have erupted throughout much of the country. Under Rouhani’s watch:
Human right lawyers have been jailed for defending political prisoners, including most recently prominent attorney Nasrin Sotoudeh
Activists have been arrested for defending citizens’ rights, for example,Rouhani’s Intelligence Ministry arrested the prominent rights activist Narges Mohammadi, who still sits behind bars
Labor leaders have been sent to prison for defending workers’ rights
Detainees’ rights to due process are routinely denied, particularly regarding access to counsel
Executions have been carried out against juvenile offenders and despite evidence of “confessions” elicited under torture
Religious minorities, especially Baha’i and Christian converts, are persecuted and prevented from openly practicing their religion
“Even within the limitation of the president’s power, Rouhani could still stop some of the continuous rights violations committed by his own Intelligence Ministry,” said Ghaemi, “and he could speak out against the massive rights violations by the judiciary.”
“Five years into Rouhani’s government, it is more clear than ever that human rights have no place in the president’s agenda, despite the pledges he made during his election campaigns,” Ghaemi added.
Cover image: Mobile Billboard with Photos of Iran’s Political Prisoners to Circle UN Headquarters During Meetings