In 1948, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) named December 10, as the Human Rights Day. Also, 72 years ago, today, the UN General Assembly (UNGA) adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a cornerstone for building a new world, where leaders respect people’s rights without considering their race, color, creed, and other differences.
However, in our world, there are a few authoritarian states that still violate their citizens’ basic rights in spite of the international community’s will. The Islamic Republic ruling Iran is among these autocratic governments while it responded to any people’s cry for inherent rights with violence.
For instance, the ayatollahs used lethal force to crack down on hundreds of thousands of people who had come onto the streets to protest gas price hikes in November 2019. As a result of brutal suppression, over 1,500 citizens were killed, and at least 12,000 others were detained. The fate of many detainees is still unclear.
In its September 2 report, Amnesty International revealed a part of the torture and other ill-treatments practiced against November detainees. “Widespread torture including beatings, floggings, electric shocks, stress positions, mock executions, waterboarding, sexual violence, forced administration of chemical substances, and deprivation of medical care. Hundreds subjected to grossly unfair trials on baseless national security charges. Death sentences issued based on torture-tainted ‘confessions,’” Amnesty wrote.
However, the Bloody November of 2019 is not the whole story despite international condemnations and calls for an impartial investigation.
On October 18, during the 75th session of UNGA’s Third Committee, which is focused on social and human rights issues, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran, Javaid Rehman, said that there is a “clear pattern” of Iranian authorities trying to “silence public dissent over the social, economic and political situation.” In this respect, the UNGA issued its 67th condemnation resolution against the Iranian government for ongoing and systematic human rights abuses.
Nonetheless, the condemnation did not halt Iranian authorities’ crimes against the people. Following the UNGA session, the government increased the suppression and suffocation in society. Iranian officials, including the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, frequently issue warning about the foes’ plan to disrupt the country’s security.
Practically, Khamenei and other authorities pave the path for more oppressive measures under the excuse of ‘security.’ Following the Supreme Leader’s remarks, the State Security Forces (SSF), the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), and Basij paramilitary forces affiliated to the IRGC began new round of crackdown on ordinary citizens. In fact, the government tried to nip any protest in the bud on the anniversary of nationwide November protests.
They increased oppressive patrols in cities and towns, arrested citizens for bogus allegations, and even gunned down several young people in board daylight. The IRGC commander-in-chief Hossein Salami also vowed to launch home-to-home searches. He ridiculously claimed that his forces intend to “counter the novel coronavirus” and raid and destroy the “virus safehouses.”
Furthermore, the religious state, particularly judiciary, increased pressure against inmates. From December 10, 2019, to 2020, the Iranian government has totally executed 255 prisoners in different jails across the country, according to human rights groups. In this period, authorities executed at least four underage inmates, eight women, and eight political prisoners.
The Iranian government also arbitrarily killed several citizens in poor provinces such as Sistan and Baluchestan, Western Azarbaijan, and Kurdistan. Border guards violently targeted porters and killed at least 74 of them under the excuse of combating trafficking. There are some juveniles among victims.
The continuation of human rights violations in Iran clearly shows that the ayatollahs do neither respect their own people’s basic rights nor recognize international norms. The current ruling system apparently declared its will to preserve power at all costs. In this respect, the citizens constantly chant the slogan, “They are lying that the U.S. is our enemy, our enemy is right here,” “death to Khamenei,” “death to Rouhani,” and “IRGC, shame on you, get rid of our country.”