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Report: Human Rights Abuses Continue in Iran

United Nations report highlights executions, religious persecution, repression of journalists

Hassan Rouhani
Hassan Rouhani / AP
• March 12, 2015 5:00 pm

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A special United Nations investigator issued a scathing report on the Iranian government’s human rights record over the past year, which included the highest execution rate in over a decade and continued crackdowns on journalists and religious minorities.

Ahmed Shaheed, the UN rapporteur on human rights in Iran, reported that the regime executed 753 people in 2014. The number is up from 687 in 2013. The number of executions has grown steadily since 2004.

The report also highlighted the continued repression of journalists, noting numerous instances of reporters being arrested for supposed "national security" crimes. One blogger, Soheil Arabi, has been sentenced to death for publishing "insulting" blog posts about the government. Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian has been imprisoned since last July on still unannounced charges.

"Charges [against journalists] include vaguely worded ‘national security’ crimes, such as ‘propaganda against the system,’ ‘assembly and collusion against the system,’ ‘insulting the Supreme Leader,’ and "spreading falsehoods with intent to agitate the public consciousness,’" said the report.

Shaheed also noted that more than 90 Christians are currently imprisoned for religion-related charges.

"Authorities reportedly continued to target the leaders of house churches, generally from Muslim backgrounds," said the report. "Christian converts also allegedly continue to face restrictions in observing their religious holidays."

The Iranian government responded to the report by questioning the validity of Shaheed’s investigation methods and reiterated its "total rejection of ‘homosexual behaviors.’"

The UN special rapporteur has not been allowed to enter Iran, and much of his information is drawn from interviews with Iranians outside of the country.

A group of 30 human rights organizations on Thursday called on UN Human Rights Council member states to vote to renew Shaheen’s appointment during the current session and to speak out against Iranian abuses.

"The situation in Iran remains one of systemic human rights violations that are deeply rooted in laws, policies, and practices that require the sustained attention of the Council," said the letter. "Renewal of the Special Rapporteur's mandate will ensure that human rights in Iran remain a priority globally and for the Council."

The group of NGOs included Impact Iran, the Committee to Protect Journalists, and Amnesty International.

Published under: Iran