The Arab Federation for Human Rights (AFHR) condemns in its strongest terms the ongoing repression and crackdown by the Iranian authorities’ on mass demonstrations that have been going on since last couple of days which have left at least 12 dead. Peaceful protesters are demanding the Iranian regime to carry out social and economic reforms and to pay attention to their internal affairs. AFHR calls on the Iranian authorities to fully respect and protect the rights of their citizens, including freedom of expression and the right to peaceful assembly as stipulated under international human rights instruments.
The Arab Federation for Human Rights condemns the Iranian authorities’ arrest of peaceful protestors and urges the UN Security Council, the international community and all countries of the world to offer public support to the Iranian people, who want to win their basic rights and stop the country’s rampant corruption.
Mass protests against the Iranian government swept through the city of Mashhad, the second largest city in Iran, against high economic conditions, high prices and tax increases last Thursday. Protests quickly spread to other cities in a wave of political rallies, the largest since pro-reform unrest in 2009.
Protests over the government’s policy last weekend spread to several Iranian cities, including Tehran, Qom, Qazvin, Hamdan, Berjand, Rasht, Isfahan, Kermanshah, “Shiraz” and other areas, and demonstrators in Kermanshah west of the country used slogans such as “freedom or death”, “bread, job and freedom,” and the rejection of the policy of Iranian intervention in Syria and other regional sites.
Some of the participants in the protests burned the image of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, calling him the “dictator”, while security forces arrested 52 participants in the protests in Mashhad only, and police tried to disperse demonstrators by using tear gas and rubber bullets.
The Arab Federation for Human Rights considers that the suppression by the Iranian authorities of peaceful demonstrations is contrary to international law and human rights conventions. Freedom of peaceful assembly is a fundamental pillar of freedom of opinion and expression, which is considered a foundation of basic human rights as enshrined in Article 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Also, Articles 20, 21 and 22 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights ensures that all have the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association, and that individuals have the right to participate in gatherings such as demonstrations and public meetings.
AFHR views these protests as an indication of the Iranian regime’s loss of popularity and a new popular approach to just living demands and rejection of interference and provocation in the region. It equally stresses that the autocratic regime in Iran – a prosperous country with a rich history and culture – is a rogue state against the international community and it is determined to export violence, bloodshed and chaos, wastes the country’s wealth to finance terrorism abroad and intervenes to stir sectarian strife in many Arab countries, especially Yemen, Iraq and Bahrain, Syria and Lebanon. It further illustrates the fact that the policies pursued by the Iranian regime have touched the political, social and economic life of the Iranian people and caused them woes before they extend harm on other people in the region.
The Arab Federation for Human Rights calls on the international community to pressure the Iranian regime to stop its policy of repression, oppression and discrimination. Iran has suppressed all the voices it opponents at home, assassinated many abroad, shut down or banned many media outlets, and has thrown many activists into prison as well as depriving Iranian women of their most basic rights. Corruption, injustice and deprivation are rampant, leaving a high percentage of the people to live below the poverty line, and making Iranian citizens struggle not to die of hunger. At the same time, Iran has made billions of dollars in its regional wars based on sectarianism, spreading hatred and supporting terrorist groups. This made the demonstrators chanting slogans such as “Death to Rohani and Death to the Dictator”, “They withdrew from Syria and thought of us” and “No to Lebanon or Gaza. Yes to Iran “and” death to Hezbollah “, declaring their opposition not only to Iran’s internal policies but also external.
Arab Federation for Human Rights
Geneva, December 30th 2017