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UN Rapporteur Shocked By Violence Against Iran Protesters

Javaid Rehman is a British-Pakistani legal scholar and Professor of Islamic Law and International Law at Brunel University and the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran. FILE PHOTO

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Iran, Javaid Rehman, in his latest report has highlighted the mid-November anti-regime protests that shook the Islamic Republic for four days.

Rehman has asserted in the report that he was "shocked" at the number of deaths, acute injuries, and stories of ill-treatment of persons detained during the November 2019 protests.

"According to reports, detainees are being tortured or are suffering other forms of ill-treatment, sometimes to extract forced confessions," Rehman said in his report published on Wednesday, February 19.

"There are also reports of denials of medical treatment, including for injuries caused by the excessive use of force by the security forces, with some other detainees being held incommunicado or being subjected to enforced disappearance," Rehman's report says.

The mid-November uprising against the clergy-dominated establishment in Iran was the deadliest unrest in the four-decade history of the Islamic Republic.

Collected documents and data by Radio Farda show that the Islamic Republic security and military forces killed hundreds of protesters and detained at least 8,600 during the four-day unrest across Iran.

The protests triggered by an overnight three-fold increase in gasoline prices on November 15 soon spread to more than 100 cities in 29 out of 31 provinces of the country.

More than three months after the uprising, the Islamic Republic has not yet published an official report on the protests' death toll.

Meanwhile, the authorities have repeatedly maintained that most of the detainees were the "ringleaders" of the protests.

Since the end of the unrest, the state-run Television (IRIB) has aired at least 22 videos of forced confessions by detainees.

Rehman asserts he "is concerned about reports that families of individuals killed by the security forces have been threatened not to speak out."

Raising concern over the continuing restrictions on freedom of expression in Iran, Rehman has noted, "Although access to the Internet has been restored since it was shut down at the peak of the protests, the policy of intimidation and harassment of journalists and their families has continued."

Javaid Rehman's new report has been compiled under the UN General Assembly (UNGA)'s Resolution 74/167 and is scheduled to be presented to the UN Human Rights Council gathering on March 9, 2020.

The detailed report has also referred to the continuation of executions, hanging minors, violating women's and minorities' rights, restricting freedom of thought and expression, and harsh conditions of prisoners, as well as suppressing assemblies and associations.

"The Special Rapporteur remains seriously concerned about the situation of dual and foreign nationals in detention in the Islamic Republic of Iran, including dual-nationals and foreign nationals Ahmadreza Djalali, Kamran Ghaderi, Robert Levinson, Siamak Namazi and Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe. A number of new cases have been reported in 2019, including the cases of an Australian national, a French national, and an Iranian-French national," Rehman says in his report, adding that he welcomed the news that two Australians arrested in July 2019 were released in October 2019.

Lambasting the Islamic Republic for keeping prominent lawyers, including Nasrin Sotoudeh and Amir-Salar Davoudi, behind bars Rehman has raised his concern about the fate of anti-compulsory hijab protesters Monireh Arabshahi, Yasaman Aryani, Mojgan Keshavarz, and Saba Kord Afshari.

Moreover, Rehman has also highlighted the dire situation of Iranian followers of the Baha'i faith, other religious minorities, and Kurds who carry goods on their shoulders in Iran's western borders and often shot by border guards.