A week after the protests started in Iran and rapidly spread to more than 130 cities of the country, on 5 January 2018, four UN Special Rapporteurs expressed extreme concern about the reported deaths and arrests of the protesters. (http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=22574&LangID=E)
Asma Jahangir, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran; David Kaye, Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and expression; Agnes Callamard, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; and Michel Forst, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, said in a joint statement:
“We are very disturbed by the way the authorities have responded to the protests. We share the worries expressed by Iranian civil society groups over what will happen to the people who have been arrested. The names and whereabouts of all persons detained in connection with these protests ought to be made public and they should be allowed immediate access to their families and legal counsel. The Government’s instruction to the Revolutionary Guards to hit hard against the protesters, and the judiciary’s threats of harsh punishment, are unacceptable.”
However, reports coming from inside Iran indicate that the statement of the UN experts has been completely ignored by the Iranian authorities. Fifty (50) protesters were shot dead during the protests and thousands arrested whose whereabouts are unknown.
The NCRI statement on 11 January said that at least 8000 people had been arrested during the nationwide uprising, 35% of whom are students and 90% are under 25 years of age. (https://www.ncr-iran.org/en/ncri-statements/iran-protests/24156-the-number-of-detainees-during-uprising-is-at-least-8-000). Despite the regime’s attempts to conceal the number of arrests, it is so high that the regime’s officials in a number of cities have inevitably admitted to parts of it. Mahmoud Sadeghi, a member of the Iranian parliament and loyal to the regime, said on 9 January that 3700 people had so far been arrested.
The fate of those detained arbitrarily is highly uncertain as they may be subjected to serve torture, ill treatment and degrading punishment which is a tactic used by the Iranian regime to suppress dissidents. There is also fear of Iranian authorities handing harsh sentences to these detainees or executing them extrajudicially without faire legal trail and due process a common practice in Iran.
Further reports by activists inside Iran stated that hitherto 5 of the detainees have been killed inside various prisons. Sina Ghanbari killed in notorious Evin Prison of Tehran, Wahid Heidari killed in Arak detention center, Mohsen Adeli killed in Dezful Prison and two more are known to be killed in Evin Prison. Authorities have said that all of them committed suicide! But no one believes that.
One young detainee managed to call his mother after he was arrested to tell her he was being held in Evin Prison but when the mother went to the prison to inquire about his son she was simply told that his son had disappeared and he was not there! Anxious families of the detainees have gathered outside Evin Prison calling for immediate release of all the detainees before they are all killed one by one.
Arbitrary arrests and detentions, disappearances as well as extrajudicial punishment have been common conduct of the Iranian regime over the past 39 years. There are many examples, the most significant being the massacre of 30,000 political prisoners in a matter of few months in 1988, the perpetrators of which remain unpunished and are still holding key positions in the government.
Therefore, families of the detainees have seen ample examples to be righteously worried about their loved ones whose whereabouts are concealed from them. They are certain that the detainees will suffer physical or psychological torture in prisons, as well as extrajudicial punishment and other abuses in the hands of those detaining them.
These news and reports are clearly telling us that despite the UN experts’ statement, during recent protests the Iranian regime has gravely violated Articles 5, 9 and 11 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which does not allow torture and cruel punishment, arbitrary arrest and detention, and it acknowledges everyone’s right to legal due process.
Now that the Iranian nation’s just and legitimate protests are being suppressed by a rouge state that is against the world community and international laws, international community has a duty to act in defense of the oppressed people and indeed in defense of the international laws that are being trampled upon by this regime.
Arbitrary arrests of the protesters in the recent uprising have already been condemned by many in the world and Amnesty International has already called the detainees’ families to send details of their loved ones who have been disappeared but these are not sufficient in the face of a regime that has ignored international laws and international human rights principles for decades.
What is vital to be done is to hold the high-ranking authorities of Iran accountable for their crimes and as a first step, it is necessary to call for an international independent fact-finding mission on the fate of the thousands of protesters who have been arrested and are facing torture and extrajudicial executions in Iran.
The Iranian Resistance has already urged the UN Security Council, Secretary General, High Commissioner for Human Rights as well as the four UN experts who have already expressed their concern and indeed the Amnesty International to call for a fact-finding mission as well as to insist on imposing severe international isolation and restrictive sanctions on the Iranian regime if it does not comply with the inquiry mission.