A. sample letter with a list of email addresses of UN missions

Iran Forcing Academics To Help Save Its Seat At UN Women Commission

Tuesday, 12/13/2022

On the eve of a vote to expel the Islamic Republic from the UN women’s commission, leaked documents reveal a behind-the-scenes campaign to stop the move. 

According to some documents obtained by Iran International, the Iranian regime is exerting pressure on academic figures to send letters to numerous global bodies to urge them to vote against the move. Among the documents are an official letter from an advisor of the head of Ferdowsi University of Mashhad to her colleagues with the list of emails of UN missions and a list of points to be mentioned in the correspondence by the professors.

The Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) is the principal global intergovernmental body exclusively dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women. The 54-member UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) will vote on whether to oust the Islamic Republic from the commission on December 14.

In the documents, a list of email addresses of UN missions of many countries as well as rights groups were provided, and university professors were asked to write to them in an attempt to prevent Iran’s expulsion initiated by the United States and supported by others. Samples letters were also given to the academics to use them as templates, but they were asked to change the wordings of the letters a bit so that it would not be obvious that they were part of a state-orchestrated campaign. 

The sample letters are a collection of the regime’s propaganda lines blaming foreign powers for the current wave of protests that began in mid-September following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in custody of hijab police. Such hackneyed lines include blaming other countries for instigating the rallies, blaming the US for using UN mechanisms as political tools, and blaming sanctions by Western countries as the main reason behind the country’s economic woes. 

The academics were also asked to mention the claims that women and men enjoy equal rights in the Islamic Republic and that Iranian women have been present in all economic fields and have made great achievements. Such bogus claims were also read out during a UN Human Rights Council meeting late in November held to discuss the deteriorating situation in Iran, especially with respect to women and children. 

A sample letter of the document given to academics to use in their correspondence

The equality of men and women in Iran is evidently untrue. The Islamic Republic’s constitution clearly states that women are considered as inferior to men in terms of inheritance, testifying in courts and in many other areas according to the Islamic law or sharia. Women in Iran are not allowed to travel abroad without the permission of a male guardian, their share in inheritance is half of what male family members receive -- the financial compensation paid to the victim or heirs of a victim in cases of death, is also half of that of a man. 

Among the other points that the academics were asked to mention in their letters to members of the commission is warning them that the expulsion of the Islamic Republic sets a precedent that may be used against other members in the future. 

The first step by the United Nations to hold the Islamic Republic accountable for its crackdown on protesters was creating a fact-finding mission by the Human Rights Council and the second move can be the vote to kick the regime off the Commission on the Status of Women. The Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council voted on November 24 to launch an independent investigation into the regime’s deadly repression of protests that has killed around 500 civilians, including about 60 children. 

Late in November, the United States circulated a draft resolution on the move, that denounces Iran's policies as "flagrantly contrary to the human rights of women and girls and to the mandate of the Commission on the Status of Women." The US-drafted resolution would "remove with immediate effect the Islamic Republic, which has just started a four-year term on the 45-member commission. 

In an interview with MSNBC Sunday US Special Envoy for Iran Robert Malley said, “it makes no sense for Iran to be sitting on a commission whose role is to promote the rights of women when they are doing exactly the opposite.”

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