A Letter to the UN HRC

To Federico Villegas, President of the United Nations Human Rights Council:
[Read the summary in Farsi]

We write to bring your attention to the ongoing human rights violations committed by the Islamic Regime in Iran in response to the peaceful “Woman Life Freedom” revolution that has been taking place for the past four months. This revolution was sparked by the murder of Mahsa Jina Amini, and has been met with a wave of sham convictions of hundreds of detainees, including many executions. The regime has resorted to such tactics to spread fear and intimidation, but the Iranian people's determination to see real change remains strong.

Although the United Nations Human Rights Council and other human rights bodies have warned the Iranian government numerous times to end its human rights violations, these requests have not resulted in any change in the regime's behavior. In light of the current uprising, it is time for taking more serious and effective actions to end this tragedy. The appointment of three respected women as members of the United Nations Human Rights Council's fact-finding committee is a welcome development, and we hope that the committee will be able to achieve its goals. However, more needs to be done to hold the regime accountable for its actions and to bring this crisis to a close. The people of Iran deserve to live in a country where their basic human rights are respected and protected.

Human rights violations have been a regular agenda for the regime since its establishment. The regime has relied on a mix of lawless governance and inhuman decrees to protect the interests of those who control the military and much of the country's economy. Doing this, they ignored most of the rights of the Iranian people, including those guaranteed by the Islamic Republic of Iran’s own constitution such as the judicial due process. Furthermore, the regime has violated many articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

During the recent revolution, the regime has brutally cracked down on any form of peaceful assembly or demonstration, including on schools and university campuses. People have been beaten, abused, injured and killed for exercising their basic human right to protest. Many, particularly women, have been blinded by pellet guns fired at close range by the regime's forces. The regime has provided no compensation for these acts, and there is no recourse for the affected individuals and families. Instead of holding the officers responsible for the death of Mahsa Jina Amini accountable, the regime has arrested and detained journalists who reported on her case, accusing them of espionage.

No form of support for the protestors, either from medical staff or the attorneys of the protestors, is tolerated by the regime. For example, celebrities who showed sympathy for the protestors have been threatened, put under house arrest, or detained. Remarkably, medics who provided medical services to injured demonstrators have been arrested, and one female physician was allegedly raped and murdered. Beyond that, the bodies of the deceased have been taken from hospitals and buried without the knowledge or consent of their families, or the families have been pressured to sign papers stating that their loved ones were not killed during protests. Additionally, the regime closed shops that went on strike and threatened to revoke their licenses.

Injustice in Iran continues through the government's judicial system. With no regard for due process, the regime’s forces arbitrarily arrest and detain people at any time and place, often using brutal force and without a written warrant. Detainees have no access to legal representation, are denied necessities and proper medical care, and are subjected to torture; children and juveniles are no exceptions. Instead of public trials with impartial tribunals, there are sham trials featuring forced confessions obtained through torture, aired on state television before any conviction has been made. These courts are headed by judges who openly support the regime and act on behalf of security forces instead of being independent, are staffed with regime-approved attorneys, and may be held for just a few minutes without any attorney. The regime also refuses to provide regular and reliable information on the status of detainees and, at the same time, threatens the families of detainees to remain silent and not speak to news outlets or seek support, warning that to do so could result in a harsher verdict. Because of these actions, it is impossible to consider the Islamic Republic a civilized government; it is a tyrannical and evil regime. The regime has demonstrated such behavior in the past, such as the crackdowns and massacres in 1988, 1999, 2009, and 2019.

The regime has engaged in tyranny by steadily increasing its control over the country. It severely suppresses the rights and freedoms of its citizens and systematically imposes gender, ethnic, religious, and other forms of discrimination and denial of equal rights. There is no respect for people's desire to choose and enjoy their way of life, including simple things like what they wear, and this lack of respect extends to the visitors from other countries and Iranians abroad. No freedom of thought, religion, opinion or expression exists, and books and publications are censored or banned. 

The regime does not tolerate any deviation from its principles. It suppresses academic researchers who do not conform to the regime’s doctrine and crushes any political party deviating from it. There is only one state-controlled broadcasting corporation, which relays the regime’s propaganda and censors alternative viewpoints. The media is either controlled by the government or at risk of being shut down if it deviates from the regime's intentions. The government shuts down the internet intermittently, and is implementing a national intranet to completely cut off Iranians from the global internet.

Any opposition to the regime, whether political or non-political, is ruthlessly suppressed. Criticizing the Supreme Leader, even in a social media post, can result in arrest, torture, long-term imprisonment, or even death during interrogation, with no accountability for the perpetrators. The regime has also been known to commit gross human rights violations with impunity. As an instance, a group of renowned Iranian environmental scientists and activists who worked with the United Nations were arrested, tortured and kept in solitary confinement. One was killed in prison before trial, and the others were convicted based on coerced confessions.

The government in Iran is not representative of the people and lacks accountability. Elected officials are not freely chosen by the people and are heavily screened by the regime. The Supreme Leader holds absolute power and is not held accountable to the people. The regime has established a series of councils controlled by the Supreme Leader that can override and nullify the actions of executive officials or members of parliament. He also chooses the head of the judiciary and controls the military and security forces. The regime promotes its ideology through all institutions, including universities, and allows only individuals who fully align with their agenda to serve in public institutions. 

The regime's corruption, funding of proxy wars and unofficial militias in other countries in the region, and decades-long mismanagement and international tensions have led to increasing poverty and social inequality in Iran. A small minority of the wealthy have access to luxury, while millions of people have lost hope for a decent living. Despite this, the people of Iran unitedly desire peace, respect, prosperity, and contributing to the global community. 

The regime refuses to take any action addressing people’s demands through all peaceful measures such as voting to reform, writing open letters, civil disobedience, non-violent demonstrations or international mediation. As a result, people are left with no choice but to consider rebellion as a last resort, which is their right when facing a tyrannical state that violates their inalienable rights.

As the Iranian Scholars for Liberty, a group comprising scholars from over 300 universities worldwide, we believe that responsible nations and institutions such as the United Nations play a significant role in protecting human rights globally. This role is not only a moral obligation, but also has the potential to promote the stability of the region and reduce international tensions.

The Iranian people want their voices to be heard and to receive support in their fight for freedom. Therefore, we invite the international community to pay attention to the dire situation in Iran, and request that the United Nations Human Rights Council make a statement addressing the longstanding human rights violations perpetrated by the ruling regime. We also ask that the Council initiate a new and effective process to hold the Islamic Republic accountable for its crimes and oppressive governance against the Iranian people, and that it support Iranians in changing the regime.

Many Iranian scholars and activists are willing to provide support and factual evidence from credible sources to expose the crimes of the regime and counter its propaganda. We, members of the Iranian Scholars for Liberty, stand ready to cooperate and fulfill our duty in advancing the "Woman Life Freedom" revolution. Let us work together to bring about positive change for Iranians and the world in this new year. 


The Iranian Scholars for Liberty

Jin Jian Azadi

Zan Zendegi Azadi

Woman Life Freedom

As of January 17th, 2023 - 11:59pm: 563 scholars (students, faculty, staff and alumni) from 256 institutes, listed below, have signed the letter. Due to security reasons, we have hided the names of universities inside Iran; overall, scholars from 55 universities inside Iran have signed the letter. These institutes have no responsibility towards this letter nor the signers.

List of Universities Supported the Letter to UN HRC

Dear fellows, we would like to ask you to kindly join us to support the brave people of Iran and all those fighters we lost in the past four months, via signing this letter. We believe in unity and TOGETHER we are STRONGER.