A committee of the United Nations General Assembly has passed a draft resolution expressing “deep concern” about human rights violations in Iran. The resolution will now be presented to the full General Assembly, which usually confirms the vote of the committee.
The draft resolution was put forward by Canada and co-sponsored by the United States and thirty-nine other countries. It says that in Iran, there are “confirmed instances” of human rights violations, including “torture and cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment, including flogging and amputations.” It cites the “arrests, violent repression and sentencing of women exercising their right to peaceful assembly, a campaign of intimidation against women’s human rights defenders and continuing discrimination against women and girls.” It calls on the Iranian government to end the harassment, intimidation, and persecution of political opponents and human rights defenders, and to release people imprisoned arbitrarily or on the basis of their political views.
The U.N. committee vote comes at a time when the news from Iran is filled with the arrest or sentencing to prison -- or worse -- of yet another journalist, women’s rights activist, labor leader, or student.
One of the most egregious cases of abuse involves that of a young female medical doctor, Zahra Bani Yaghoub. In October, she and her fiancé were arrested by morality police in the city of Hamadan, while they walked together in a park. Her fiancé was released after an hour; she was held in prison overnight. The next day, her bruised and lifeless body was given back to her parents. Her family says she was assaulted and murdered in prison.
In an interview with Radio Free/Europe Radio Liberty, Iranian journalist Isa Saharkhiz said the brutal death of Zahra Yaghoub shows that in Iran, “even an ordinary person does not have basic security.”
White House National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe says the Iranian people are being mistreated by their government:
”The people of Iran should be allowed to speak freely, to gather freely, and to act in a way that they want to.”
“The United States of America,” says Mr. Johndroe, ”stands with the people of Iran as they seek their freedoms and the government they deserve.”