Ahead of President Rouhani visit, Iran human rights violations continue, says UN Secretary General

Ahead of President Rouhani visit, Iran human rights violations continue, says UN Secretary General

New York—24 September 2015

In a report issued four days before Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is scheduled to address the UN, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Iran has made little progress on human rights over the past year, despite promises of Mr. Rouhani’s government to improve its record.

Mr. Ban said he remains concerned about Iran’s “upward trend” in the use of the death penalty, continuing restrictions on freedom of expression and detention of journalists, the repression of women, and the ongoing persecution of religious minorities, including Baha’is.

Mr. Ban noted in particular that Mr. Rouhani came to office two years ago offering a “renewed commitment” to loosening restrictions on freedom of speech. “There have, however, been few signs of progress in improving conditions for exercising the right to freedom of expression and information,” Mr. Ban said.

He also expressed concern about “reports of persistent discrimination” against ethnic and religious minorities, “often among the most vulnerable groups in society,” noting once again that President Rouhani and other officials had made commitments “to ensuring equality, upholding freedom of belief and religion, extending protection to all religious groups and amending legislation that discriminates against minority groups.”

Mr. Ban noted in particular that “authorities have not relaxed restrictions on members of the Baha’i community, who continue to face severe constraints on their professional activities, including the closure of their businesses.”

“There were also incidents of desecration of Baha’i cemeteries and denial of burial rights to Baha’i individuals, purportedly on the orders of the authorities,” Mr. Ban said. “The authorities reportedly prohibited the expansion of Baha’i cemeteries for new burials in Ahvaz in 2014 and would have authorized the desecration and destruction of the Baha’i cemetery in Shiraz.”

“The Secretary-General calls upon the President to pay special attention to the plight and protection of Baha’i, Christian and Muslim minorities, as he pledged during his electoral campaign,” said Mr. Ban.

Bani Dugal, the principal representative of the Baha’i International Community to the United Nations, welcomed the report.

“At a time when world leaders will be meeting with President Rouhani, the Secretary-General’s report is a sober reminder that the human rights situation in Iran desperately needs to remain on the international agenda," she said.
“The Secretary-General has pointed out that Iran has made numerous commitments to improve its human rights situation, and yet has failed to live up to them. How long, for example, must Baha’is live without persecution? How long must they wait before they can go to university, be allowed to bury their dead, or live without fear of imprisonment?" said Ms. Dugal.
Mr. Ban’s full report can be accessed here.