Human Rights

UN General Assembly expresses "deep concern" about human rights in Iran

UNITED NATIONS - For the 21st time since 1985, the United Nations General Assembly has adopted a resolution expressing "deep concern at serious human rights violations" in Iran.

The resolution, approved on 18 December 2008 by a vote of 69 to 54, specifically criticized Iran’s use of torture, the high incidence of executions, the "violent repression" of women, and "increasing discrimination" against Bahá’ís, Christians, Jews, Sufis, Sunni Muslims, and other minorities.

The resolution was put forward by Canada and co-sponsored by more than 40 other countries. It specifically takes note of the report by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, issued in October, which also expressed concern about human rights in Iran, and the resolution calls on Iran to address the "substantive concerns" voiced in Mr. Ban’s report.

In his report, Mr. Ban said "there are a number of serious impediments to the full protection of human rights" in Iran. It likewise expressed concerns over torture, executions, the abuse of women’s rights, and discrimination against minorities.

The resolution asks the secretary general to prepare an update on Iran’s progress over the coming year.

It further calls on Iran to "end the harassment, intimidation and persecution of political opponents and human rights defenders, including by releasing persons imprisoned arbitrarily or on the basis of their political views" and to "uphold due process of law rights and to end impunity for human rights violations."

The resolution takes particular note of attacks on Bahá’ís, noting "increasing evidence of efforts by the State to identify and monitor Bahá’ís, preventing members of the Bahá’í Faith from attending university and from sustaining themselves economically, and the arrest and detention of seven Bahá’í leaders without charge or access to legal representation."

Bani Dugal, the principal representative of the Bahá’í International Community to the United Nations, said "Iran should reflect upon and glean from this vote that, sadly, countries from Finland to Fiji are more concerned about the rights of ordinary Iranian citizens than the Iranian government itself."