International Community has an Opportunity to Send Iran’s Government a Clear Message on Human Rights

The world has watched in horror as the unrelenting violence in Iran continues to unfold several months after the disputed June 12 presidential elections. Now the international community has a tremendous opportunity to send a clear message to Iranian authorities that the massive human rights violations they have perpetrated are simply unacceptable.

This opportunity is the upcoming Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Iran by the U.N. Human Rights Council (HRC) next month.  Under this process, the human rights records of all member nations of the U.N. are reviewed, on a staggered schedule, every four years. There are three sessions per year, with sixteen countries reviewed per session. This process replaces the previous Commission on Human Rights, which could decide which countries to consider, whereas in the new process, all U.N. member states are automatically reviewed. This new procedure is intended to eliminate the possibility of deciding to review certain countries for political reasons and to address the criticism of double standards which were made against the Commission.

The purpose of the UPR process is to improve the situation of human rights situation in the country reviewed; to enhance the fulfillment of each state of its human rights obligations and commitments; to share best practice in the promotion and protection of human rights among States; and to strengthen the cooperation by States with the Human Rights Council and its mechanisms.

The outcome of the UPR process will be a report approved by the HRC, and which will include recommendations for addressing compliance with human rights obligations. Amnesty International’s goal is to insure that the resulting report and recommendations are as strong as possible. The Iranian government has persistently claimed that countries with which it has historically had hostile relations, such as the United States and United Kingdom, have been orchestrating criticism of its human rights record for political purposes. A strong report endorsed by the entire HRC would be a rebuke to the Iranian government and a signal that the international community as a whole abhors its deplorable human rights abuses.


Iranian human rights defender Abdolfattah Soltani released!

Abdolfattah Soltani, an Iranian human rights defender, was one of hundreds of people who were rounded up and imprisoned in the crackdown that followed Iran’s presidential elections.  Plain clothes Iranian security officials arrested the leading human rights activist in June along with countless others — students, opposition politicians, journalists and rights activists — and threw them in prison.

Soltani has for years stood by victims of Iran’s repression. And by putting himself in the line of fire, he too has become a target of the Iranian government crackdown.

Tens of thousands of Amnesty members took action in response to news of his arrest. And last week, Soltani was released. While we continue to have a number of concerns about human rights in Iran, we have found Soltani’s release, along with last month’s release of human rights defender Shadi Sadr, profoundly encouraging.

Amnesty members helped counter the climate of fear instilled by Iranian authorities with a spirit of hope. They sent a vital message of solidarity to Soltani and other human rights defenders like him in their hour of darkness, reminding them that they were not alone.

We sincerely thank everyone who took action on Soltani’s behalf.