As more information gradually is obtained from Iran with internet access being restored following a nationwide blackout imposed by the regime, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet on Friday, December 6, voiced major concerns over the ongoing lack of transparency in regards to casualties and the thousands of detainees are treated, parallel to arrests reportedly continuing across the country.
The UN High Commissioner said she is “extremely concerned about [the detainees’] physical treatment, violations of their right to due process, and the possibility that a significant number of them may be charged with offences that carry the death penalty, in addition to the conditions under which they are held.”
“In such circumstances, with so many reported deaths, it is essential the authorities act with far greater transparency,” Bachelet said. “They must undertake prompt, independent and impartial investigations into all violations that have taken place, including the killing of protesters and reported deaths and ill-treatment in custody. And those responsible must be held accountable. There appear to be multiple violations of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Iran has ratified and is obliged to uphold.”
“Security forces responded to the protests with water cannon, tear gas, batons, and in some cases live ammunition against unarmed demonstrators who posed no imminent threat of death or serious injury,” according to the UN statement. According to reports, members of the Basij militia and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRCG) were involved in shooting protesters.
The UN Human Rights Commissioner further emphasized on the horrific nature of the brutal crackdown imposed in Iran, explaining how verified video footage are now indicating the use of severe violence against protesters, including units of security forces shooting from the roof of a justice department building in one city, and even from helicopters in another. The UN has also received footage showing security forces shooting at unarmed demonstrators from behind while they were fleeing and shooting others directly in the face and vital organs, indicating how they were specifically shooting to kill. These are clear violations of international norms and standards on the use of force, and serious violations of human rights, Bachelet added.
The UN High Commissioner further stated that her Office had received information over the horrific massacre carried out by the mullahs’ security forces, even using heavy machine guns, against protesters in Jarahi Square in Mahshahr. The regime’s forces even shot bystanders in the streets and people watching the incident unfold from their homes.
The UN Human Rights Office has also received numerous reports indicating the use of ill-treatment against the over 12,000 arrested, including with the apparent aim of extracting forced confessions, and the regime’s state television broadcasting the “confessions” of some detainees alleged to be “protest leaders” and people affiliated with anti-government groups or foreign governments. According to the IRGC deputy chief, those who have “openly confessed they were doing mercenary work” will face severe punishment.
“Many of the arrested protesters have not had access to a lawyer, meaning due process is not being respected,” Bachelet said. “We also have reports of severe overcrowding and harsh conditions in detention centers, which in some cities include military barracks, sports venues and schools in addition to official detention facilities. There are also reports that individuals who were wounded or otherwise injured during the crackdown are being denied medical treatment in detention.”
The UN Human Rights Commissioner voiced deep concerns about reports of journalists being intimated in order to prevent their reporting on protests across Iran. Family members of Iranian journalists working for news channels based outside Iran reportedly summoned and threatened with reprisals by intelligence officials, according to the United Nations.
“All in all, the picture now emerging from Iran is extremely disturbing,” Bachelet said. “I urge the authorities to immediately release from detention all protestors who have been arbitrarily deprived of their liberty, and to ensure their right to due process, including access to a lawyer of their choosing during the investigative stage. In the event of further protests, I urge the Government to respect Iranians’ right to exercise freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association and, in addition to investigating the violations that have already occurred, to restrict the use of force to the greatest extent possible, as provided for under the relevant international norms and standards.”