Iran rejects UN investigation into protests

Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman carried a gas mask in a reference to Germany’s alleged supply of chemical weapons during the Iran-Iraq war as he denounced the UN investigation.

Iranian government supporters listening in a hall
The Iranian government has sought to blame the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom and other countries for the unrest in Iran [File: Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader/WANA Handout via Reuters]

Tehran, Iran – Iran has said it will not cooperate with a United Nations fact-finding mission on its response to ongoing anti-government demonstrations due to what it calls the investigation’s “political” nature.

Tehran will have “no form of cooperation with this political committee which has been framed as a fact-finding committee”, foreign ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani told reporters during a news conference on Monday.

Last week, Iran announced it had formed a local fact-finding mission, comprised of representatives from the government, the judiciary, the parliament and others, to investigate “events, riots and unrest” during the past few weeks.

According to Kanani, this constituted a “responsible” act by the Iranian state and refuted any need for a UN investigation.

“[The UN investigation was] taking advantage of human rights mechanisms to exert political pressure on independent countries,” Kanani said.

The UN Human Rights Council last week voted to establish a fact-finding mission to investigate potential abuses in Iran’s handling of anti-government demonstrations that have erupted across the country.

The protests began after the death in custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in September, following her arrest by morality police for allegedly not adhering to the country’s mandatory dress code.

Of the 47-member council, 25 voted in favour of a resolution that demands Tehran cooperate with the council’s special rapporteur on Iran, including by granting access to areas inside Iranian territory, such as locations where people have been arrested.

There were 16 abstentions and six nations – Armenia, China, Cuba, Eritrea, Pakistan and Venezuela – voted against the measure.

The UN has said more than 300 people have died during the protests and nearly 14,000 arrested. Other human rights organisations have provided higher figures, but Iran has not released any official tallies, apart from saying that more than 50 security personnel have been killed.

Several people have received preliminary death sentences for participating in “riots”, according to the Iranian judiciary, while an official said the Iranian Supreme Court has begun hearing appeals for those sentenced to execution.

In the past two weeks, protests have been most intense in Iran’s Kurdish-majority northwestern provinces, with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) confirming it is “strengthening” its presence there.

The elite forces also renewed its missile and drone attacks in neighbouring Iraq’s northern regions last week, which it has threatened to continue if Kurdish groups based there are not disarmed.

New Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani is expected in Tehran on Tuesday to meet with President Ebrahim Raisi and discuss the issue.

Focus on Germany’s role

Top Iranian officials have repeatedly accused the United States, Israel, the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Saudi Arabia of being behind the country’s unrest.

In the past few weeks, Iran has particularly ramped up its rhetoric against Germany, as the European power has expressed repeated support for the protests in Iran.

Along with Iceland, Germany presented the formal call for the formation of the special UN council meeting on Iran that led to the passage of the resolution.

Iran’s foreign ministry on Monday summoned the German ambassador to Tehran for the second time since the start of the protests to condemn “interventionist and baseless” remarks by German officials and to denounce the UN meeting.

During his news conference on Monday, the Iranian foreign ministry spokesman carried a black gas mask and held the session with the mask on his podium.

It was meant as a reminder of the use of chemical weapons by Saddam Hussein during the eight-year Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s.

Tehran has long accused Germany of supplying Hussein with chemical weapons. Kanani said up to 80 percent of the chemical weapons used during the war were supplied by German companies.

In its blacklisting of European individuals and entities in response to European Union sanctions last month, Tehran imposed sanctions on two German companies that it said were responsible for “delivering chemical gases and weapons” to Iraq during the war.

Source: Al Jazeera