Global protests spotlight Iran’s human rights abuses and apply pressure to regime

Sep 21, 20090 comments

Global protests spotlight Iran’s human rights abuses and apply pressure to regime Iran Quest August 2, 2009 While certain commentators echoing official Iranian positions dismissed the demonstrations on the July 25 United4Iran Global Day of Action as an attempt to interfere with Iran’s “internal affairs,” such comments reflect a lack of understanding of international human rights and Iran’s obligations as a member of the international community and as a state party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Opposing human rights violations is not political interference. The idea behind the demonstrations, and their goal, was to oppose human rights violations and to support the Iranian people’s right to peaceful protest, guaranteed by the ICCPR as well as by the Iranian constitution. These demonstrations were nonpartisan, and the organizers explicitly opposed outside interference in Iran. The demonstrators appealed for an end to violence against those seeking to express their political views; appealed for the release of political prisoners; and urged the United Nations to send envoys to Iran to monitor and intercede in ways that will lead to the release of political prisoners and to improving Iran’s very low level of compliance with UN human rights standards. Some of the political prisoners detained since the disputed election have been released in the past few days. Many more remain and face continuing abuse including torture to force confessions, lack of access to legal counsel, as well as unfair trials if they are prosecuted. Many people died in the course of the recent events, either during demonstrations at the hands of security forces or militias, or later in detention. What is important now is to prevent further torture, further abuse, and further deaths, as well as to advocate for opening a space in which political disputes can be resolved peacefully and legally, consistent with human rights principles. While identifying the specific consequences of any protest is generally difficult, the over 100 demonstrations around the world raised international awareness about these problems; they put the spotlight on the responsibilities of Iranian authorities, many of whom are increasingly disturbed by the humiliating spectacle of torture and death of innocent people in Iranian prisons; and most importantly, they showed the Iranian people that their efforts to exercise their human rights are supported by hundreds of thousands around the world who demonstrated, and many more. Aaron Rhodes — Spokesperson, International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran