Iran has been in the grip of two months of protests sparked by the death in custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini after she was arrested for allegedly violating the country’s strict dress code for women. The protests grew into a broad movement against the ruling theocracy.
V. Türk started working as the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights last month.
“Since I took over as high commissioner, I have met twice with representatives of the Iranian authorities,” he told reporters ahead of a UN Human Rights Council meeting to discuss whether to launch a high-level inquiry into Tehran’s crackdown. “I offered to go to Iran, and I also offered to be more actively involved in Iran – we don’t have an office there – but I haven’t received a response yet.”
Türk said he also spoke with Tehran about the use of the death penalty, especially for juvenile offenders.
“Once again we have had no response to our calls for an end to these penalties,” he said.
Regarding the prospect of Iran’s participation in various UN human rights mechanisms, he added: “Hope never fades.”
“So far, this has not been the most promising approach,” he said of Tehran’s refusal to admit the UN special rapporteur on human rights in Iran. “We can only hope that this attitude will change.”
Speaking for the first time at the Human Rights Council and opening a special session on the protests in Iran, Türk called for an immediate end to violence against protesters and said change was inevitable.
“This is a message of solidarity with the Iranian people, and we hope it will encourage the authorities to change course in what would otherwise be a real human rights emergency,” he said.
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