Ottawa – January 11, 2018
Nobel Peace Laureates Shirin Ebadi, Jody Williams, Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkol Karman, urge the Islamic Republic of Iran to conduct credible independent investigations into the use of violence, especially lethal violence, and mass arrests in reaction to protests held in 75 cities across the country, beginning on December 28, 2017. Authorities should allow Members of the Iranian Parliament and UN human rights officials, namely the Special Rapporteur on Iran, to conduct parallel investigations. The laureates also call for the immediate release of activists and protestors detained solely for peaceful expressions, opinion, and assembly, and to hold human rights violators accountable.
In seven days of protests, at least 22 people were killed in the streets, according to state reporting. A member of Iran’s Parliament confirmed that authorities have arrested about 3,700 protestors nationwide. At least two of these protestors have reportedly died while in detention. Members of Iran’s Parliament have also noted that 90 student activists were detained by security forces, most of whom were not involved in any street protests but were detained as a pre-emptive measure. Many prisoners are still being held by authorities, and little is known about the standards of their detention or whether they have been granted procedural safeguards.
Indeed, the Islamic Republic of Iran has for decades denied Iranians their rights, which are recognized under both the constitution and international human rights law. Freedoms of expression, association, and peaceful assembly are severely repressed. Authorities routinely ignore fair trial standards and mistreatment in prisons is not uncommon. People in Iran also face systematic discrimination on the basis of their gender, ethnicity, and religion.
Moreover, authorities have pursued economic policies that fail to address the needs of the population, especially in the small cities and villages where the recent protests have taken place. The state maintains a large military budget, channeling funds into regional interventions, while poverty and unemployment continue domestically. The lifting of sanctions has had little impact on the lives of those most marginalized in the country, while state officials exhibit high levels of corruption. When journalists question these policies or workers organize to demand better wages and living conditions – they are met with censorship and arrest. All these factors have led people into the streets to express discontent with the current situation.
The four Nobel Laureates support Iranians in the expression of legitimate economic and human rights grievances and call on authorities to address them. We strongly urge the Islamic Republic to:
- Respect the rights of protestors and detainees, including releasing those involved in peaceful activists;
- Investigate and punish right violations; and
- Heed the legitimate economic and human rights grievances of the people in Iran.
Jody Williams, Nobel Peace Prize (1997)
Dr. Shirin Ebadi, Nobel Peace Prize (2003)
Tawakkol Karman, Nobel Peace Prize (2011)
Leymah Gbowee, Nobel Peace Prize (2011)