Iran: Oral statement to HRC37 interactive dialogue on Iran

Mr. President,

ARTICLE 19 shares the Special Rapporteur’s observation of a “worrying picture” for human rights in the country in the last year. As we mourn the passing of Asma Jahangir, ARTICLE 19 urges States to stand, as she did, with Iranians and with civil society, to support freedom of expression in Iran by supporting the renewal of the Special Rapporteur mandate.

The unprecedented, country-wide protests, which broke out in December 2017, prompted a heavy-handed and repressive response by the Iranian authorities, with at least 21 killed and thousands arbitrarily detained. We call for a prompt, independent and full investigation into the use of force, including of lethal weapons, against protesters, as well as deaths in custody.

Internet and mobile network shutdowns and throttling during the protests, including the Telegram platform, directly contradict commitments States have made in this room to desist from such practices. The 90 telegram users currently detained for their online expression must be released.

The Iranian government has taken steps to further its surveillance powers and controls over the free flow of information. The expansion of the National Information Network, and requirement for social media and messaging platforms to relocate their servers inside Iran, are just two examples.

Harassment and intimidation of activists, journalists, trade unionists, lawyers, artists, academics, women and ethnic and religious minorities, remains routine, in particular through arbitrary detentions under trumped-up national security charges.

The recent targeting of environmentalists is disturbing, including 9 arrested on 24 and 25 January, and the supposed ‘suicide’ in custody of Kavvous Seyed-Emami, which must be investigated.

Targeting of the media, including internationally, is also concerning. We call for the release of 55 journalists currently detained in the country. We also urge authorities to cease harassment of BBC Persian staff and their families, including through criminal investigations and asset freezing.

Lastly, a second mother’s day passed yesterday in the UK, with Iranian-British citizen and charity-worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, detained in Iran and separated from her family. We condemn her continued detention and government-led smear campaigns against her.