Dozens of NGOs urge United Nations to act against restriction of freedoms in Iran

A group of dozens of NGOs fighting for Human Rights urged the United Nations and the International Community, in an open letter, to act to protect women, religious minorities and new Christian converts in Iran. Many are indeed arrested and imprisoned for the sole reason of having left Islam.

Lhe open letter welcomes the decision to adopt a new resolution aimed at promoting and protecting human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran. For the signatories, the resolution sends “a vital message to all governments and the Iranian people that the human rights situation in the country is of international concern and that reforms are urgently needed”.

The human rights situation is particularly delicate in Iran. The country has the highest per capita execution rate in the world for years. Trials are often not fair. Freedoms of expression, association and assembly are violently repressed. Sunni Muslims, women, religious minorities, especially Christians, experience appalling treatment and see their fundamental rights regularly and violently violated.

New Christians particularly targetedBetween the months of May and August 2016, security forces reportedly arrested 79 Christians, before placing them in prison for a few days up to several months. Some of them are still in prison. Converting a Muslim to the Christian faith has been illegal since 2012. Christians congregate in underground house churches. The leaders of these groups are accused of "acting against national security by establishing house churches".

In May 2016, 4 new converts from the Rasht region were arrested. Their hearing took place on October 15 and they are still awaiting the verdict. 3 of them risk 80 lashes for having drunk the wine of the supper. According to advocacy groups, many more Christians are awaiting trial in Iranian prisons.

Constant pressure on ChristiansIranian authorities are exerting pressure by direct threats or harassment on church leaders, to make them flee the country. Harassment consists of threats of sentences of 5 to 10 years in prison, daily summons to police stations, confiscation of identity cards or even loss of employment. For advocacy groups, this harassment of Christians “is a violation of international constitutional and legal obligations”. Article 14 of the Iranian constitution guarantees “basic religious rights for non-Muslims… If they do not commit acts against Islam”. Article 19 introduces “the principle of non-discrimination” and article 23 prohibits authorities from investigating a person's views or taking action against a person solely on the basis of his or her views.

Writing

Discover  the list of all signatories of this letter addressed to the United Nations:

Roya Boroumand, Executive Director
Abdorrahman Boroumand Foundation
Robin Phillips, Executive Director
The Advocates for Human Rights
Hassan Nayeb Hashem, Representative to the Human Rights Council
All Human Rights for All in Iran
Philip Luther, Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa
Amnesty International
Kamran Ashtary, Executive Director
Arseh Sevom
Mansour Borji, Advocacy Director
Thomas Hughes, Executive Director
Shahin Helali Khyavi, Director
Association for Human Rights of the Azerbaijani People in Iran
Taimoor Aliassi, UN Representative
Association for Human Rights in Kurdistan of Iran-Geneva (KMMK-G)
Mansoor Bibak, Co-Director
Balochistan Human Rights Group
Dr. Shirin Ebadi, Founder and President
Center for Supporters of Human Rights
Joel Simon, Executive Director
Committee to Protect Journalists
Jessica Morris, Executive Director
Conectas Human Rights
Raphaël Chenuil-Hazan, Executive Director
Together Against the Death Penalty (ECPM)
Ibrahim Al Arabi, Executive Director
European Ahwazi Human Rights Organization
Ann Hanna, Head of International Advocacy
freedom from torture
Keyvan Rafiee, Executive Director
Human Rights Activists in Iran
Sarah Leah Whitson, Director of the Middle East and North Africa Division
Human Rights Watch
Mani Mostofi, Director
Impact Iran
Hadi Ghaemi, Executive Director
International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran
Stephanie David, Representative to the United Nations in New York
International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
Phil Lynch, Director
International Service for Human Rights
Saghi Ghahraman, President
Iranian Queer Organization (IRQO)
Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, Executive Director
Iran Human Rights
Rebin Rahmani, European Director
The Kurdistan Human Rights Network
Mehrangiz Kar, Chairperson
Siamak Pourzand Foundation
Mahmood Enayat, Director
Small Media
Firuzeh Mahmoudi, Executive Director
United for Iran
Elizabeth A. Zitrin, President
World Coalition Against the Death Penalty

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