Policy on Iran’s Human Rights Record: Why the UN Should Reconsider It


Iran’s history of human rights comprises several reports of violations throughout the years. And, the numbers are still growing with each passing day.

It’s one of the UN’s responsibilities to curb these violations and ensure that human rights are upheld in each nation. But, their policies regarding Iran haven’t been effective, sometimes making it even more difficult for the citizens. Because of this, the sanctions must be reconsidered.

And, because of the large influence Iranian-American culture has on the country, many US citizens would also like to help. To get you started, here’s a brief guide on the topic:

Primer on Human Rights in Iran

Iranian legislation draws from sharia law, which is based on traditional religious teachings that may seem harsh to an outsider. For example, certain felonies can lead to stoning, amputation, or execution.

Their laws may be considered restrictive of free speech as well. According to their constitution, citizens aren’t allowed to speak about topics that are harmful to the principles of Islam or public interest. This prevents people from voicing out or complaining about the abuses they face.

These abuses can be seen most clearly during the Islamic revolution in the 1970s, which led to a large number of political killings. As the conflicts continued, over 30,000 political prisoners were executed in the 1988 massacre.

Aside from the laws, the country also has a history of extra-legal killings. Human rights groups have criticized the government for allegedly having political prisoners outside the purview of the National Prison Office.

Since they’re kept invisible, it’s hard to monitor the welfare of these prisoners. There have been reports of abuse, intimidation, and torture. These people have also been allegedly coerced to testify, confess, or take an oath against their will.

Sanctions Against Iran

To help prevent these human rights violations, activist groups, including various Iranian-American organizations, have called on their countries to impose sanctions on Iran. The United States has the most, but the UN has also passed several resolutions.

Most of them demand that the country follows international law regarding nuclear activity and human rights. Others require that the nation’s economy be monitored, from the movement in their banks to the contents of their ships and aircraft. Many places have also imposed trade embargoes and travel bans, as well as suspended financial aid.

Together, these policies have successfully frozen the nation’s military assets. But, they’ve also hindered the oil trade, which is Iran’s most valuable export.

These sanctions deprive Iran regime and IRGC (Iran Revolutionary Guards Corps), a notorious entity, suppressing the Iranian people and Iran’s proxies in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen. Also, due to Iran’s corruption, people have not been able to access basic necessities. They’ve also found it difficult to tell their story, such as the killing of 1500 peaceful protesters in December 2019,  to the outside world.

What Can Be Done

The human rights violations continue despite the sanctions imposed and the criticism the Iranian government has faced. Minors are being executed, and freedom of speech is hindered. There are still many political prisoners in Iran.

The international community, on the other hand, should do their part. The UN must send its own investigative committee to determine the extent of the issue. Only then can they come up with solutions that can address it better. They’re already taking the first steps toward this by releasing a report and indictment on the deaths and injuries caused by state forces.

But, that isn’t enough. To prevent these human rights violations, critics believe that the UN must come up with a plan based on facts and compassion. Activists say that the international community should continue sending fact-finding missions to not only reveal to the word the extent of what’s happening but also to consult Iranians on what can be done.

The UN can’t do this alone. They’re going to need the assistance of other people like the Persian-Americans,whether it’s through donations or labor. Contact the Organization of Iranian American Communities to find out how you can help in this fight.

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