A year after the November protests, human rights violators have not been held accountable in Iran

A year after the November protests, human rights violators have not been held accountable in Iran

A year after the November protests, human rights violators have not been held accountable in Iran

Iranians have grown accustomed to turbulent politics. The political fortunes of officials in Iran wax and wane on the whims of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Islamic Republic’s unelected and unaccountable head of state, who has occupied the office since 1989.


However, amid changes in political futures, one sad reality stays constant: the enduring impunity of Iran’s leadership for gross human rights violations.


2020 has proved to be no exception to this rule. This week marks one year since anti-government protests erupted in Iran on November 15, 2019—known as the Aban protests—and quickly spread nationwide. The demonstrations were met with a violent response by the state; hundreds of peaceful protesters were killed by security forces and thousands more were jailed. To this day, no government officials or perpetrators of the killings have been held responsible.


Instead, amid this climate of impunity, the Islamic Republic has brought national security charges against hundreds of protesters simply for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression, association, and assembly, and Iran’s judiciary has convicted protesters on the basis of confessions obtained under torture.


In the aftermath of the Islamic Republic’s violent crackdown on protesters, human rights organizations called for a special session in December 2019 of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to address the violations. Human rights defenders warned of the prospects of rampant torture and mass executions of protesters in Iran’s jails.


However, these calls were largely met with silence from the international community. This may be attributed in part to a general weariness from states after months of anti-government protests from Chile to Hong Kong to Iraq in 2019, which were all marked by state violence. Shortly afterwards, the coronavirus pandemic brought the world to a standstill, with UN meetings postponed and the pace of diplomacy and engagement operating at a slower clip—the lag continuing to this day.


But the lethargy in taking action on Iran’s human rights record can also be attributed to weariness specific to the Iran context as well, including world powers’ disapproval of the Trump administration’s unilateral pullout from the Iran nuclear deal in May 2018 and the continued intensification of its “maximum pressure” campaign. The rising hostilities between Washington and Tehran had European allies of the United States focused on salvaging diplomacy on the nuclear file, with little appetite or bandwidth for addressing the Islamic Republic’s gross human rights violations. With the US withdrawal from the UNHRC in June 2018 and a stretched Europe, there were few paths left for a robust multilateral response to the violence against protesters.


Read more at: Atlantic Council


Iran Briefing | News Press Focus on Human Rights Violation by IRGC, Iran Human Rights

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