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Crimes Against Humanity Unveiled: UN Fact-Finding Mission Exposes Iran’s State Atrocities

By Center For Human Rights in Iran

March 11, 2024


Credits @FFHR.CZ


Call to Action: UN Human Rights Council Members Urged to Extend Fact-Finding Mission and Special Rapporteur Mandates


March 8, 2024 – Grave human rights violations perpetrated by the government of Iran since the outbreak of the “Woman, Life, Freedom” protests in September 2022, which include atrocities that amount to crimes against humanity, were revealed today by the independent, international Fact-Finding Mission on the Islamic Republic of Iran (FFMI) in its inaugural report.


“The Islamic Republic’s violent repression of peaceful dissent and severe discrimination against women and girls in Iran has been confirmed as constituting nothing short of crimes against humanity,” said Hadi Ghaemi, executive director of the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI).


“The government’s brutal crackdown on the ‘Woman, Life, Freedom’ protests has seen a litany of atrocities that include extrajudicial killings, torture, and rape. These violations disproportionately affect the most vulnerable in society, women, children, and minority groups,” he added.


“Given the severity of the crimes perpetrated against the people of Iran and the substantial evidence still being collected and submitted, it is imperative that UN Human Rights Council member states vote in favor of renewing the fact-finding mission’s mandate at the current 55th session of the Human Rights Council,” said Ghaemi.


“Only by doing so can we progress towards achieving accountability for the perpetrators and justice for the victims of these egregious violations,” he added.


CHRI will be in Geneva in the coming days, at the 55th session of the Human Rights Council (26 February to 5 April 2024), urging member states to vote in April for renewal of the Fact-Finding Mission’s mandate, as well as the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran.


Established by the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) in 2022 to investigate the Islamic Republic’s crackdown on the 2022 protests, which came to be known as the “Woman, Life, Freedom” movement, the FFMI has amassed extensive evidence of state atrocities, including mass murder, widespread blinding, arbitrary arrests of over 20,000, and torture of detainees, including children.


With the collection of evidence still ongoing, the FFMI needs more time to investigate this material, preserve evidence, identify perpetrators, and establish mechanisms to transfer knowledge to other bodies. Given the Iranian authorities’ refusal to hold any officials accountable for the documented crimes committed, allowing the FFMI to conclude its work and fulfill its mandate is imperative for justice.


Meanwhile, the Office of the Special Rapporteur serves as a vital depository for human rights information and case material on Iran. Its detailed reports have significantly raised global awareness of the scope and severity of rights abuses in Iran, and its work has led to prisoner releases and halts to executions.


The “Woman, Life, Freedom” protests in Iran stemmed from the killing of Mahsa Jina Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian-Kurdish woman, while in custody of the morality police in September 2022, just three days after she was arrested for alleged hijab violations.


Amini’s killing was not promptly or thoroughly investigated by the authorities in Iran, as is required by international human rights law.


Instead, the government actively concealed the truth and denied justice, and then moved to legalize harsher punishments on women and girls who refuse to abide by the state’s compulsory hijab law. New pending legislation in Iran on mandatory hijab laws has increased the punishments on women for noncompliance, and has been described by UN human rights experts have described as tantamount to gender apartheid.


Subsequently, the government deployed its security apparatus to suppress the ensuing protests, resulting in the deaths of at least 551 protesters, including 49 women and 68 children, with firearms, including assault rifles, being the primary cause of death.



Excessive Force: Peaceful Protests Met with Torture, Rape, Arbitrary Executions


The Fact-Finding Mission’s 20-page mandated report on Iran, released today in English and in Persian on March 8, International Women’s Day, will be followed by the full 400-page conference report paper on March 18, comprehensively exposing the violent state suppression of peaceful protests, the pervasive institutional discrimination against women and girls in Iran, and the severe rights violations and crimes committed by the state.


These include extra-judicial and unlawful killings, unnecessary and disproportionate use of force, arbitrary deprivation of liberty, torture, rape, enforced disappearances, and gender persecution.


“These acts form part of a widespread and systematic attack directed against the civilian population in Iran, namely against women, girls, boys and men who have demanded freedom, equality, dignity and accountability,” said Sara Hossain, chair of the FFMI. “We urge the Government to immediately halt the repression of those who have engaged in peaceful protests, in particular women and girls.”


The FFMI uncovered egregious abuses by security forces during protests, including unjustified lethal force resulting in deaths and injuries, and a disturbing pattern of blinding protestors, many of them women and children. Arbitrary arrests targeted individuals for minor acts of expression or support for women’s rights, with detainees subjected to torture, rape, and other forms of gender-based violence. The government’s summary executions, relying on forced confessions, further underscore the grave human rights violations.


High-ranking officials sanctioned and encouraged these violations, while disinformation campaigns demonized protestors as “rioters” or “foreign agents.” State security forces, including the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, were active in these atrocities, with ongoing repression extending to families, journalists, and human rights defenders.



No Cooperation from the Islamic Republic


The FFMI expressed deep concern over the Iranian authorities’ lack of cooperation, despite repeated requests for crucial information and access to investigate reported violations. It highlighted the Islamic Republic’s government’s opaque approach to its own investigations into alleged human rights abuses.


Given the absence of effective remedies and the longstanding culture of impunity in Iran, Human Rights Council member states are urged to seek accountability through international channels.


CHRI echoes the FFMI’s calls for the application of universal jurisdiction to all international crimes, the establishment of victim funds, and the provision of protection measures, including asylum and humanitarian visas, for those fleeing persecution in Iran.


“The report emphasizes the urgent imperative for accountability and the renewal of the fact-finding mission’s and special rapporteur’s mandates to address these widespread crimes against humanity,” stated Ghaemi.


He added, “Codifying the crime of gender apartheid in the UN’s crimes against humanity treaty and officially designating Iran as a gender apartheid state are also crucial steps in facilitating accountability.”




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