Iranian authorities are killing ethnic minorities in what has been described to Express.co.uk as planned shootings. It is the latest allegation to rock riot-ridden Iran, which is gripped by civil unrest over the treatment of women and the enforcement of the hijab. As a result of the Iranian regime opening fire on peaceful protesters, the UN has agreed to investigate the state-sanctioned killings of minority groups. Iran has said it will not cooperate with the United Nations investigation into human rights abuses in the country. Last week, the UN Human Rights Council voted to establish a “fact-finding mission” to investigate alleged human rights violations specifically targetting ethnic minority groups who have participated in the mass protests that began on September 16, 2022.
On Monday, Iran’s foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani told reporters the UN was “taking advantage of human rights mechanisms to exert political pressure on independent countries” and Tehran will have “no form of cooperation with this political committee which has been framed as a fact-finding committee”.
Now human rights activists have told Express.co.uk the Human Rights Council has committed to a major breakthrough and the first step towards holding the perpetrators of violence accountable on an international stage. Since protests began, 488 people have been killed by the Iranian regime, including 60 children, 250 of which are from ethnic minority groups. Those who have been killed from live fire triggered by Iranian authorities have disproportionately been people from the regions of Baluchistan and Kurdistan.
Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, the director of the NGO Iran Human Rights told Express.co.uk: “It amounts to crimes against humanity because we see the widespread targetting of specific ethnic regions and the planned shooting of defenceless citizens.”
It is no accident that these are the groups being targeted, he said, when Kurdish people and Baluch people have already suffered under a regime that has sidelined them for years, leaving them in poverty with few resources or schools in their regions.
He continued: “In Baluchistan, there are areas where there are no schools and children sit outside on the ground for lessons.”
This happens at the same time as the Iranian government sends millions to fund Hezbollah (in Lebanon) in order to further its influence on the world stage.
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Mr Moghaddam said that ethnic minorities may be seen as a threat to a totalitarian regime which relies on conformity. It might also be explained because of their position on the margins where there has already been a history of unrest, giving the authorities an incentive to act with force.
He went on to describe brutal episodes of violence in the last few months. The Iranian regime has opened fire on Baluch civilians protesting in Zahedan, Sistan and Baluchistan, resulting in mass deaths.
In October, Amnesty International reported eyewitness testimony detailing the horrors that unfolded during Friday prayers when at least 82 protestors were killed after Iranian authorities started firing live ammunition into crowds in Zahedan, Sistan and Baluchistan.
Agnes Callamard, Amnesty International’s Secretary General said: “The Iranian authorities have repeatedly shown utter disregard for the sanctity of human life and will stop at nothing to preserve power. The callous violence being unleashed by Iran’s security forces is not occurring in a vacuum. It is the result of systematic impunity and a lacklustre response by the international community.”
The Iranian government has attempted to distance itself from the deaths of citizens by saying “terrorists”, “rioters” and “separatists” funded by foreign governments were responsible.
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The events have garnered the attention of Baluch and Kurdish people living in the diaspora. On Saturday, November 28, protesters gathered outside the Norwegian Parliament building in Oslo to honour the victims who have been killed by the Iranian regime in Baluchistan and Kurdistan.
One blogger, documenting the protest said: “We appeal to the UN, Norwegian authorities and the international community to stop the brutal genocide in Baluchistan.”
Human rights researchers believe that the international community has been slow to respond to the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Iran. Eleonora Mongelli, director of the Italian Federation for Human Rights said the EU “could do more and say more”.
Ms Mongello said: “We have been ignoring the situation in Iran for many years. I hope that the European Union and other countries can make a strong statement. Considering the EU’s business relationships with Iran politicians have a duty to call on Iran to stop the repression. This resolution is the first step.”
Mr Moghaddam has had similar concerns but says now that is all changing with the mission to investigate human rights violations signifying “a significant move towards justice” which “sends a very important signal to those obeying orders to open fire on civilians.”
Of the protests that have erupted across the country, he said: “All people in Iran want this regime to go. This is the beginning of a revolution of dignity.”
He continued: “There is no doubt that the Iranian regime is under threat. It has not experienced such a crisis in the last 43 years. From now on, it’s a question of time.”