Group of Eight Should Press for Investigation into Iran Violence
Freedom House issued a letter today urging the Group of Eight to hold the Iranian government accountable to its international human rights commitments following deadly clashes between armed forces and peaceful protesters.
The nongovernmental organization recommended that G8 foreign ministers meeting tomorrow in Italy call for an independent investigation to determine the number of people killed, detained or missing in connection with the government’s crackdown on Iranians protesting the country's disputed presidential election on June 12.
The text of the letter is below:
Freedom House is gravely concerned by the Iranian regime's use of brute force to silence millions of citizens peacefully protesting the announced outcome of the country's presidential elections. Instead of respecting their basic human rights to freedom of expression and assembly, the Iranian government chose to respond with a relentless campaign of violence and intimidation. This assault on the Iranian people has reached far beyond Tehran, with Freedom House receiving reports of protests in 21 out of 30 Iranian provinces and subsequent crackdowns in cities such as Tabriz, Isfahan, Shiraz and Mashhad. Unfortunately, attempts by the Iranian government to control all sources of information gathering and reporting in Iran, both through traditional media and new media, is making it very difficult to verify the full scope of the violence.
Freedom House is grateful for the support that many individual nations in the Group of Eight have extended to the Iranian people during this crisis. Embassies in Tehran have opened their doors to wounded protesters, while foreign ministries have been swift to condemn the violence.
As you and other foreign ministers of the Group of Eight gather in Italy tomorrow, I implore you to hold Iran accountable to the international human rights commitments to which it is a party, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which guarantees all human beings both the right to peaceful association and the right to participate in genuine elections that respect the will of the people.
The Group of Eight should use its meeting to call for an independent and unfettered inquiry to account for the number of people who have been killed, detained or have disappeared in connection to the government's crackdown. By its own count, the government's brutality has claimed at least 13 lives, with our sources in Iran reporting significantly higher numbers. This inquiry should be led by a respected organization such as the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
Foreign ministers from the Group of Eight can also play a leading role in urging the United Nations to directly address the crisis in Iran. Ministers should encourage UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to appoint a special rapporteur to conduct a fact-finding mission in Iran to determine the severity and scope of human rights abuses. Similarly, members of the UN Security Council should call a special session to address the turmoil in Iran and its implications for international security.
This week's meeting presents an important opportunity for the Group of Eight to collectively address the crisis and communicate the international community's solidarity with the Iranian people.
Jennifer L. Windsor
Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.