Counselor for Economic and Social Affairs
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
November 18, 2020
Thank you, Chair. We would also like to thank Canada for its leadership and the transparent manner in which it managed negotiations on this important resolution.
The United States is proud to co-sponsor this resolution addressing the human rights situation in Iran. Credible reports indicate that one year ago, the Iranian regime brutally killed as many as 1,500 protesters, and tortured and imprisoned thousands more. We remain deeply concerned with with the human rights situation in Iran and would like to outline a few of those concerns here.
Government institutions, including the judiciary and its Revolutionary Court system, continue to subject the Iranian people to a wide range of human rights violations and abuses with no accountability. This resolution highlights some of the most egregious reported abuses, such as detaining political prisoners, the use of lethal force against peaceful protestors, and torture.
We remain concerned regarding death sentences imposed following unfair trials and reports of forced confessions obtained through torture. The most vicious recent example is the execution of wrestler Navid Afkari on September 12. Our concern is also for those detained for peaceful activism, such as human rights lawyer Atena Daemi and labor rights activist Jafar Azimzadeh, as well as dual nationals having endured deplorable prison conditions including exposure to COVID-19.
The UN Special Rapporteur on Iran labeled the regime’s extensive use of arbitrary detention as a systemic problem that amounts to a serious violation of international law in a March 2020 report. The human rights NGO United for Iran estimates there are nearly 600 political prisoners in Iran. Political prisoners have been routinely denied access to medical care or family visitation and have been largely excluded from prisoner furloughs and pardons related to the COVID-19 pandemic. We call on Iran to release these prisoners immediately. We strongly condemn the continued targeting and harsh sentencing of workers, journalists, and labor activists for protesting unpaid salaries and engaging in trade union activity.
The Iranian regime further engages in activity that raises human rights concerns, including targeting women, members of ethnic and religious minority groups, and those with opposing political views. The United States shares the Special Rapporteur’s concerns regarding the continued repression of members of religious minority groups. Gonabadi Sufis, Baha’is, and Christian converts face severe treatment because of their beliefs, including harsh jail sentences. Iran should respect the human rights of all, including non-Shia Muslims.
The Iranian regime continues to refuse access to the country to the UN Special Rapporteur on Iran. We urge the government to immediately allow a country visit, as there have been no independent or transparent investigations into the regime’s killings of up to 1,500 protesters in November 2019.