The UN Human Rights Council has passed a motion to set up a fact-finding mission to look into the mass protests in Iran that have taken place over the past two months, following the death in custody of 22-year-old Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini in Tehran on September 16.
In a vote on November 24, a resolution was passed by 25 votes in favour, with six votes against and 16 abstentions. Among the countries to vote in favour were the U.S., UK, Japan and Libya. Among those to abstain were Iran’s neighbors on the 47-member council, the UAE and Qatar.
An effort by China to water down the motion was rejected. China’s envoy Jiang Yingfeng had told the meeting that the motion “obviously will not help resolve the problem”.
The meeting had been convened at the request of Germany and Iceland to discuss the deteriorating human rights situation in Iran.
It was addressed at the start by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk who said “We have seen waves of protests over the past years, calling for justice, equality, dignity and respect for human rights. They have been met with violence and repression. The unnecessary and disproportionate use of force must come to an end.
“The old methods and the fortress mentality of those who wield power simply don’t work. In fact, they only aggravate the situation. We are now in a full-fledged human rights crisis.”
Turk said there had reportedly been protests in “over 150 cities and 140 universities in all 31 provinces of Iran” since mid-September and that “a conservative estimate of the death toll so far stands at over 300, including at least 40 children.”
He added that around 14,000 people, including children, have so far been arrested in the context of the protests and that at least 21 of those arrested face the death penalty.
Iran’s representative argued against the motion and heavily criticized the European countries which had called the meeting.
In her address to the council, Iran’s Khadijeh Karimi said “the political motivated move of Germany to distort the situation of human rights in Iran is an orchestrated ploy for ulterior motives which would lead nowhere, but to drive the Human Rights Council from its genuine mandate.”
She was also critical of the U.S., saying “Anti-Iran TV stations based in the UK and U.S. acted as provocateurs of hatred, inciting violence and terrorism during the riots.”