Is Iran Right To Condemn U.N. Human Rights Report?

Fatimah Mazhar
United Nations report on human rights in Iran was rejected by the government of the Islamic Republic, calling it “unfair” and “politically-motivated.”

United Nations report on human rights in Iran was rejected by the government of the Islamic Republic, calling it “unfair” and “politically-motivated.”

The report, published on Wednesday, was prepared by Ahmed Shaheed, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran. Shaheed highlighted and condemned the country’s strict control on freedom of speech, including rigorous crackdown on online opinion, and the high number of executions in the country this year.

However, Shaheed was barred from visiting Iran since being appointed by the UN in 2011. Therefore, his report was not based on first-hand experience instead it was purely based on information he received from human rights campaigners, victims and exiles.

Iranian foreign ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham denounced the report and said, “Such prejudiced reports to become the judging standard of its human rights situation.”

Shaheed’s account emerged just three months after moderate President Hassan Rouhani assumed office. Though not many people think that Iran’s policies will change abruptly, some believe things may considerably improve under his rule.

Rouhani, before and after his victory in elections this year, stated on many occasions that he acknowledged the rights and freedom of Iranians had been ignored in the past and wanted a better progressive environment in the country.

He even recognized the Holocaust, contrary to his predecessor Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, who was widely known (or rather notorious) for his denial of the massacre of Jews at the hands of the Nazis.

While many human rights activists still remain behinds the bars, the Iranian government released between 60 and 100 prisoners last month, a positive sign acknowledged and appreciated by the world community.

Rouhani also appears as a huge proponent of women’s rights and education and relaxed web censorship. He was even questioned by Twitter founder Jack Dorsey over possible free internet in Iran earlier in October to which Rouhani replied, “My efforts geared 2 ensure my people will comfortably be able to access all info globally as is their right.”

Maybe Iran is right in disregarding the report. Shaheed’s analysis can be considered as premature since it’s been only three months Rouhani took office. And the fact that his report lacks first-hand documentation is also a big negative.

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