At a press conference on March 14th, UN Special Rapporteur Dr. Ahmed Shaheed began his speech by saying, “Today, I report with deep regret that despite overtures and announcements emanating from the newly elected Iranian government, and perhaps even in spite of modest attempts to take steps towards reform, the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran remains of serious concern.”
Dan Wooding of ASSIST reports that this press conference in Geneva was a discourse on Shaheed’s new Human Rights Council report. Despite personal attacks, Shaheed requested permission from the Iranian government to visit Iran and meet with government officials (and others) in order to best meet the goals of his report. His findings thus far have not been positive. “Hundreds of political prisoners continue to languish in detention,” he shared, according to the Christian Telegraph, “often for nothing more than the alleged ‘crime’ of expressing an opinion or belief. Members of ethnic, religious, and sexual minority groups face harassment and persecution for advocating for group rights, worship, or communal heritage, when such advocacy deviates from officially-sanctioned positions.”
Shaheed also spoke extensively about Iran’s wanton and excessive use of the death penalty, a form of punishment he recommends the government put on hold until necessary judicial reforms take place. Freedom of speech and freedom of worship are under heavy attack in Iran, with at least 49 Christian prisoners being held custody at the current time. Among those include Pastor Saeed Abedini, an Iranian-American who was sentenced to 8 years in prison for evangelical activities and has been detained in Iran since 2012, away from his wife and children.
Publication date: March 20, 2014