Iran criticises UN report, calls claims of arrests of Christians ‘false’

Iran criticises UN report, calls claims of arrests of Christians ‘false’

Kazem Gharibabadi, secretary of Iran’s “High Council for Human Rights”.

Iran has dismissed the latest report by the UN’s special rapporteur on human rights in Iran as “biased”, “politically motivated” and based only on “a series of unsubstantiated and untrue allegations” by “fugitive criminals”, “terrorist groups”, and “foreign or Persian-language media abroad”.

The rebuttal, which has now been published on the UN’s website at Iran’s insistence, includes specific reference to the claim in the rapporteur’s report that at least 53 Christians were arrested between 1 January and 1 December 2021 “for the practice of their religious beliefs”.

In response to this claim, Iran’s “Deputy Secretary General of the High Council for Human Rights for Judicial Affairs” cites Article 13 of the Iranian Constitution, under which he notes that “Zoroastrian, Jewish and Christian Iranians are free to perform their religious rites”, before adding: “The free performance of religious duties by Zoroastrians, Jews, and Christians in their places of worship throughout the country confirms the falsity of the allegation made in the report.”

No further evidence is given to support the counter-claim.

Indeed, there is little in the way of specific evidence throughout the eight-page rebuttal, which comprises 48 numbered paragraphs.

Instead, the claim of “unsubstantiated” evidence on the part of the UN rapporteur, Javaid Rehman, is repeated, as is the complaint that Mr Rehman made no reference to the impact of US sanctions on the “human rights” of Iranian citizens.

The rebuttal also includes insistence that torture is “prohibited in the Constitution and regulations of the Islamic Republic”; that access to a fair trial is “guaranteed” in law and practice; that “the allegation regarding deprivation of access to health care in prisons is far from the existing facts of providing extensive services to prisoners”; and that “no lawyer will be prosecuted or convicted in connection with their legal duties”.

However, in most cases such denials take the shape only of a reference to how the law and/or constitution forbid the kinds of rights violations listed in Mr Rehman’s report, rather than specifically denying that the stated violations took place.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran believes, firmly, in the protection and promotion of the human rights of its people,” the writer insists, before demanding the report is “amended accordingly”, including adding the rebuttal of the Islamic Republic as part of a revised version.

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