Abide by International Law regarding Peaceful Demonstrations, Rein in Vigilante Groups
Respect for Human Rights and Dialogue Needed for Peaceful Solution
(19 June 2009) The Iranian government is bound by Iranian and international law to protect the right to peaceful assembly, despite threats against citizens seeking to express their views on the disputed presidential elections, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran said today. The Campaign is deeply concerned by the possibility of more police and vigilante violence against peaceful demonstrators and the further arbitrary detention of Iranian citizens, and calls on authorities to abide by Iran’s international legal obligations and the Iranian Constitution in dealing with mass unrest about the 12 June presidential election results.
“We reject unequivocally any suggestion that peaceful demonstrations are illegal, motivated by treasonous agendas, or against the interests of the Iranian people,” stated Aaron Rhodes, a spokesman for the Campaign. “They are a fundamental and universal human right of Iranian citizens and people around the world.”
The Campaign has monitored and documented the excessive use of force against demonstrators who have sought to express themselves to the authorities in the aftermath of Iran’s contested 12 June 2009 presidential elections. Violence against these demonstrators has resulted in a number of deaths and many serious injuries. The use of force by police and security forces is severely restricted by international standards; the use of force against Iranian demonstrators has been clearly inconsistent with relevant international standards, in particular the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials.
Having ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), Iran is legally obligated to respect the right to peaceful assembly as per article 21, a right that is also established under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (article 20). The right to peaceful assembly is also protected by article 27 of Iran’s Constitution, provided its exercise does not violate the principles of Islam.
The Campaign calls on the Iranian authorities to demilitarize the streets of cities and to remove excessive police and security forces, there for the clear purpose of intimidating or confronting peaceful demonstrators.
The Campaign calls on the authorities to disarm and control violent vigilante groups that have killed and beaten Iranian citizens in past days, and to prosecute members of such groups who engage in criminal acts.
“As a civilized society, Iran cannot tolerate hateful violence by extremist groups acting with impunity against their fellow citizens on the orders of or tacitly condoned by state authorities, “Rhodes said.
The Campaign calls on Iranian authorities to cease interfering with civil telecommunications, in their apparent effort to restrict the freedom of expression and to control flows of information.
The Campaign has also monitored the arbitrary detention of dozens of Iranian human rights activists, political figures, civil leaders and journalists, many of whom remain in detention along with untold numbers of ordinary citizens who have also been arrested during demonstrations throughout Iran. Arbitrary detention is strictly forbidden under international law, specifically by article 9 of the ICCPR. The Campaign believes that all of these illegally detained citizens are at risk of torture and ill-treatment and that some may be in particular jeopardy, and reminds that the government is responsible for the health and safety of all in its custody.
The Campaign urges the Iranian authorities to release all people detained arbitrarily and to take immediate steps to end police violence against peaceful demonstrators, in accordance with Iran’s international legal obligations.
The Campaign urges the authorities to enter into dialogue with leaders of political opposition groups in order to avoid any further loss of life and injury, and thus to take steps to resolve the current political situation peacefully.