Featured Image: Ebrahim Raisi By Nasim Online, CC BY 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.
On 24 November 2022, the United Nations Human Rights Council held a Special Session on the human rights situation in Iran. A Special Session is the highest form of attention which the Human Rights Council can take. The Foreign Minister of Germany came in person to Geneva to present the Special Session resolution. The resolution which was adopted calls for the creation of a special fact-finding mission to investigate:
“Alleged human rights violations in the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
Such fact-finding is an essential step towards ensuring that perpetrators are held responsible for their abuses. While it is unlikely that the government of Iran will allow the fact-finding group to enter the country, the creation of the group after a heated debate indicates the wide-spread international concern with the repression of the demonstrations and the death sentences given by courts to at least five protesters accused of:
“Moharebek” (waging war against God).
The manifestations began on 16 September 2022 concerning the death of a 22-year old woman Mahsa Amini at the hands of the “morality police“. She had been arrested for showing too much of her hair under the manditory veil – the Hijab. Now women cutting their hair in public has become one of the symbols of the manifestations. The first cries were “Women-Life-Liberty” (Zan- Zevdegi-Azadi) and were focused on women’s issues.
The manifestations had begun in the Kurdish areas of Iran, Mahsa Amini being a Kurd. The manifestations quickly spread to all the other areas of Iran as well. However, the governmental crackdown has been most brutal against the Kurds – the number killed and arrested. In the nine weeks of manifestations, the issues have become broader and now concern the theocratic nature of the regime itself.
Image: Thousands turn out in Melbourne to stand in solidarity with protests that have broken out in Iran following the death of 22-year old Mahsa (also known as Jina or Zhina) Amini at the hands of the country’s brutal dictatorship and its ‘morality’ police. By Matt Hrkac from Geelong / Melbourne, Australia, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.
The government is seriously worried but is unable to create a counter-vision to its current theocratic framework. Repression by the police and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps is the first line of defence followed by blaming the U.S.A. and Israel as the sources of the manifestations. While there is an active community of Iranians living in the U.S.A. who are generally liberal in their social-political convictions, the current manifestations are not the results by Iranian exiles or the U.S. and Israeli governments. There is also wide support in Western Europe for the themes of the manifestations.
Rather the manifestations have both economic and social causes. There is a serious economic recession due to multiple causes which has led the often influencial shopkeepers to join the mainfestations by closing their shops. The manifestations also indicate the social, especially the generational differences. Many of those manifesting are young, secondary school and university students. Although the government has tried to shut down the social media, communications among the young remain strong.
It is difficult to know how events will develop. The U.N. Factfinding Mission has its work cut out for it. Its findings should be followed closely.
Image: Photos of various protests in London in solidarity with Mahsa Amini. By Garry Knight from London, England, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons.
Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.