A regime crackdown against protestors in Iran unhappy with the strict interpretation of Islamic law may have brought violations of international human rights, according to a UN special expert.
Special Rapporteur on Iran, Javaid Rehman, told a meeting of the UN Human Rights Council that violations committed by the Iranian authorities since the protests began last year may amount to crimes against humanity.
He said he was alarmed by the scale and gravity of the reported cases of murder, imprisonment, enforced disappearance, torture, rape and persecution.
Last summer, Mr Rehman and UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, Nazila Ghanea, issued a separate warning about Iran’s targeting of religious minorities, including Christian converts.
The experts called for the “immediate and unconditional release of all individuals detained on the basis of their religious affiliation, and accountability for the systematic persecution of religious minorities by authorities”.
But Iran says the allegations are made up.
In Westminster this week, a report outlining the experiences of Christians in Iran will be launched in Parliament by campaigns group Article 18, with the backing of Open Doors, Middle East Concern and Christian Solidarity Worldwide.
Speaking to Premier, report co-author Steve Dew-Jones described how Christians must gather in secret in their homes, whilst fearing a night-time knock on the door from police.
However, he emphasised that now is what he called “a moment where it feels like there really could be change”
“Over the years, it's been said many times, but it does really feel that moment”, Dew-Jones continued. “It was the Persian New Year, just last night, and every free-minded Iranian is hoping that this will be the year in which things really do change.”
“And then you know, what can be the future for Iran? That's what I'd love to see. That's what many of us, most of us, would love to see and what my colleagues are praying for.”