The council, meeting in special session in response to the crisis sparked by the September death in police custody of 22-year-old Jina Mahsa Amini, heard Mr. Türk criticized the “fortress mentality of those in power” in Iran.
The “unnecessary and disproportionate use of force” must end, he stressed.
“It hurts me to see what is happening in this country,” he told the packed assembly. “Images of children being killed. About women being beaten in the street. From people sentenced to death.”
The UN High Commissioner highlighted how security forces, “especially the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and Basij forces have used live ammunition, birdshot and other metal pellets, tear gas and batons” against the protest movement as it has spread to 150 cities and 140 reported. universities in all Iranian provinces.
Before calling for an independent investigation into all alleged rights violations, the High Commissioner noted that his Office had received “several communications” from Iran about the episode, “including domestic investigations”. These efforts “have failed to meet international standards of impartiality, independence and transparency”, said Türk.
In response to the High Commissioner’s comments, Iran’s representative, Khadijeh Karimi, Deputy Vice President for Women and Family Affairs, confirmed that “necessary steps” had been taken to seek justice by the Government, following the death of Ms. Amen. This includes the establishment of an independent parliamentary investigative commission as well as a medical forensic team.
“However, prior to the official announcement of the investigative analysis, the biased and hasty reaction of a number of Western authorities and their intervention in Iran’s internal affairs, turned the peaceful meeting into rioting and violence,” he emphasized.
Also speaking at the Special Session – the Council’s 35th since its founding in 2005 – Javaid Rehman, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran confirmed that in the past week, efforts to silence protesters have been intensified, including against children.
Victims of children among the dead
At least 60 to 70 people died, he said, including five children, mostly from Kurdish areas. He also described the situation in the Kurdish towns of Piranshahr, Javanrood and Mahabad as “alarming”.
“The Iranian government has consistently presented baseless reports and repeated statements claiming that Jina Mahsa did not die as a result of any violence or beatings,” he said. “In other reports, the Government denied the killing of children by security forces, claiming they killed themselves, fell from heights, were poisoned or killed by unidentified ‘enemy agents’.”
These are three of the approximately 400 people who have been killed because they defended their right to determine their own life.
Since the death of Ms. Amini following her arrest by Iran’s so-called Morality Police on September 13 for not wearing her headscarf properly, more than 300 people were killed in the protests, including at least 40 children, according to the latest information from the UN human rights office.
At least 15,000 people have been arrested too “and the Iranian regime is now threatening protesters with the death penalty,” said German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, who initially called for the Special Session: “And why? Simply because these women, men and children want to enjoy the rights that we all want to enjoy: to live with dignity and without discrimination.”
Echoing that message, United States Human Rights Ambassador in Geneva Michèle Taylor told the Council that the Iranian people “demanded something so simple, something most of us here take for granted: the opportunity to speak up and be heard. We commend their courage, especially the women, girls and young people who courageously demand respect for human rights and accountability for abuses.”