A UN General Assembly committee has slammed Iran for discriminating against and harassing women and girls, in addition to a host of other human rights violations.
The Third Committee of the 78th General Assembly approved a resolution entitled “Situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran” by a vote of 80 in favor to 29 against.
Another 65 countries, including many with a track record of human rights abuses such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and South Africa, abstained. A bevy of dictatorships voted against, including Iranian ally Russia, Belarus, Syria and North Korea.
The resolution, whose draft was introduced by Canada, condemned the misogynistic policies and practices of the Iranian regime, calling on Tehran to put an end to its discrimination against women.
The regime continues to introduce yet stricter legislation to crack down on hijab and ‘chastity’ laws as more women across Iran reject the mandatory headscarf and curbs on their behavior. Surveillance has been stepped up and like Mahsa Amini, the symbol of the Women, Life, Freedom uprising which began after her death in morality police custody last year, a 16-year-old girl, Armita Geravand, also died in their hands in recent weeks.
Citing “the Iranian authorities’ flagrant disregard for human rights, life and dignity”, the resolution condemned “the intensified, targeted repression of women and girls by Iran, both online and offline”. Women are arbitrarily arrested on the street for hijab refusal and refused entry to public spaces including universities, hospitals and public spaces.
Iran’s #MeToo movement has also chronicled systemic sexual abuse in the country’s legal system, women under constant threat of sexual violence on the streets and in prison.
The resolution cited “mass arrests and arbitrary detention, disproportionate use of force, including force leading to the death of peaceful protesters, and imposition and carrying out of the death penalty against those connected to the protests.”.
More than 500 demonstrators were killed by security forces in the protests following Mahsa's death, after they were given free rein by the regime’s top officials in an attempt to quell the uprising.
The resolution also called on Iran to end its harassment and persecution of political opponents and human rights defenders, especially those belonging to minority groups, a phenomenon which has worsened since the uprising.
In October, rights group Amnesty International reported a new wave of crackdowns on Baluchi protesters in Iran.
The people of Sistan-Baluchestan have been holding weekly protests after security forces opened fire at peaceful protesters, killing nearly 100 on September 30, 2022, a day known as the Bloody Friday of Zahedan. Zahedan is one of the few Sunni-majority cities in predominantly Shiite Iran.
“The authorities are ramping up their brutality to stop Baluchi protesters from gathering each week in Zahedan,” warned Diana Eltahawy, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa.
The resolution of the General Assembly’s Third Committee, which addresses social, humanitarian and cultural issues, also urged Tehran to cooperate with international human rights mechanisms, especially with the UN special rapporteur on human rights in Iran, Javaid Rehman.
Earlier this month, Rehman warned that the Israel-Hamas war bolsters repression inside Iran by deflecting attention from internal criticism of the regime to regional issues as the conflict instigated by Iran’s biggest Palestinian proxy against Israel, rages on.
In a post on X, Abram Paley, the US State Department's deputy special envoy for Iran, hailed the passing of the resolution. “We stand with the people of Iran as they continue their fight against oppression and violence and for a free and democratic future,” he said.
The resolution comes a week after United Nations reiterated concerns regarding the human rights situation in Iran, urging the release of detained protestors and an immediate end to executions which have also escalated since the uprising began in September last year.
The committee noted “the alarming increase of the use of the death penalty”. According to a UN report, at least 419 people were reportedly executed, including 409 men and 10 women, between January 1, 2023, and July 31, 2023, marking a 30 percent increase compared to the same period last year.
The committee also approved six resolutions including on the human rights situations in Ukraine, Syria, Iran, Myanmar and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
Iran’s representative at the session, Zahra Ershadi, rejected the resolution branding it “biased and politically motivated”. Falling back on regime rhetoric to attack the West, she blamed it on “Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, the United States, and the occupying and apartheid Israeli regime — the classic cast of characters and the usual suspects.”