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International outcry as Iran’s regime assumes chairmanship of UN Human Rights Council's social forum

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In a shocking turn of events, Iran's regime, a notorious violator of human rights, took over the chairmanship of the Social Forum of the United Nations Human Rights Council, with human rights advocates expressing strongly condemned, writes Shahin Gobadi.

Many are shocked that despite the regime's history of oppression, torture, and executions, it was given such a prestigious position by the UN Human Rights Council earlier this year.

During a press conference in Geneva today, Tahar Boumedra, former Chief of the UN Human Rights Office in Iraq, and Behzad Naziri, the representative of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) in international organizations, denounced the appointment.

"This disgraceful decision is an insult to the Iranian people, whose human rights have been flagrantly violated by the regime over the past 44 years, and it makes a mockery of the principles upon which the UN is founded," said Mr. Boumedra.

It was also announced that 180 human rights experts, jurists, lawmakers, Nobel laureates including current and former UN officials, and NGOs had written to Volker Türk, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, expressing outrage at the appointment and highlighting its alarming implications.

"Allowing a regime notorious for committing the 1988 massacre, daily executions, and warmongering to take over a prestigious UN platform is a dagger to the heart of human rights, fuels terrorism, and endangers regional and global peace. It egregiously violates the very principles upon which the United Nations has been founded and for which millions of people have sacrificed their lives. This represents a dark stain in the history of the United Nations," the letter said.

Of particular concern to the signatories was the 1988 massacre of approximately 30,000 political prisoners, predominantly members of the main Iranian opposition movement, the Mujahedin-e Khalq (PMOI/MEK). The current Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi, at the time a deputy prosecutor, was a member of the ‘death commission’ in Tehran, which sent thousands of prisoners of conscience to the gallows.

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The signatories emphasized that Iranian officials should be held accountable not only for the 1988 massacre but for their atrocities over the past four decades, which have been condemned in 69 UN resolutions. “The clerical regime has executed more than 600 people in the first 10 months of 2023 and murdered 750 protesters during the 2022 uprising and 1,500 more during the 2019 uprising. On 24 November 2022, the Human Rights Council established an international Fact-Finding Mission to investigate the Iranian authorities' human rights violations during the 2022 uprising. On 14 December 2022, Iran's regime was removed from the UN Women’s Rights Commission due to its atrocious human rights record. On 15 December 2022, the UN General Assembly condemned the brutal and systematic violations of human rights in Iran,” the letter said.

The signatories of the letter include Prof. Stefan Trechsel, President of the European Commission of Human Rights (1995–1999); former Judge at the UN International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) from Switzerland, Prof. Catherine Van de Heyning, Member of the UN Human Rights Council Advisory Committee; Professor of fundamental rights at the University of Antwerp, Belgium, Amb. Stephen J. Rapp, US Ambassador-at-Large for Global Criminal Justice (2009-2015); Prosecutor of the UN Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) (2007-2009), and many other prominent world human rights authorities.

Simultaneously, a new UN report published today reveals that executions in Iran have increased by 30 percent this year.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres stated in the report to the U.N. General Assembly on the human rights situation in Iran that Iran is carrying out executions "at an alarming rate," putting to death at least 419 people in the first seven months of the year, according to the AP.

Behzad Naziri stressed that this appointment is inexplicable and shameful, undercutting the very values the United Nations is mandated to protect, promote, and uphold. He warned that if the world community fails to act in preventing human rights violators from governing global human rights bodies, it will promote impunity and only encourage them to escalate their human rights violations.

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