10/19/2022, 11.13
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Mahsa murder: Christian activists and NGOs call for enquiry into Tehran's violence

In a letter to the UN Human Rights Council 42 associations call for an "urgent" investigation and the establishment of an "independent mechanism" to guarantee justice against the repression. Yet another child victim: Asra Panahi, 16, massacred for not singing the pro-Khamenei anthem at school. The fate of climber Elnaz Rekabi, who returned home, is uncertain. 

Tehran (AsiaNews) - Iranian Christian activists in the diaspora, together with dozens of international pro-human rights NGOs, have launched an appeal to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UN HRC) for an "urgent investigation" into the violent repression of protests over the killing of Mahsa Amini.

The UN body, the signatories of the document explain, has the task of 'establishing' an 'independent mechanism' with the tasks of 'investigating, reporting and attributing' responsibility for the deaths in recent weeks. The latest victim to be reported in recent days is a young girl aged just 16, killed by the Security Forces for refusing to sing a hymn dedicated to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

'“Without concerted collective action by the international community that goes beyond statements of condemnation and long-standing calls directed at the Iranian authorities to conduct investigations, countless more men, women and children risk being killed, maimed, tortured, sexually assaulted and thrown behind bars, and evidence of grave crimes risks disappearing,' the appeal stresses. Confirming the fears, the petitioners recall that in just four weeks, the violent repression implemented by Tehran has caused the death of almost 250 people, at least 23 of them minors. 

The leadership of the Islamic Republic has repeatedly ignored calls by senior UN officials to cease the use of force against protesters. "At the local level," the associations continue, "all avenues leading to a verification of responsibility are blocked" and it is impossible to obtain justice independently. This is why, the appeal by the 42 NGOs concludes, a "decisive action" by the international community is "necessary" and has been late in coming "for too long now".

At the end of September, Iranian Christian activists had mobilised demanding "truth and justice" for Mahsa Amini and condemning the "systematic oppression" of women, an active component of society, but often the object of abuse, violence and marginalisation.

The appeal signed today by Article18 was joined by, among others: Abdorrahman Boroumand Center for Human Rights in Iran; Amnesty International; Association for Women's Rights in Development (Awid); Balochistan Human Rights Group (Bhrg); Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies; Center for Human Rights in Iran; Ensemble Contre la Peine de Mort; Gulf Center for Human Rights; Human Rights Watch; Kurdistan Human Rights Network; World Organisation against Torture (OMCT). 

Meanwhile, there are new stories of bloodshed, as revealed by the denunciation of the Coordinating Council of the Iranian Teachers' Union concerning the death of a 16-year-old girl at the hands of the police in a school in Ardabil, in the north-west. Asra Panahi had allegedly taken part in protests in recent days, refusing with other classmates to sing the hymn for the Supreme Leader. In response, the security forces beat her savagely, to the point of causing her death, although some relatives - perhaps fearing further persecution - attribute the death to a 'heart problem'. 

In the last few hours climber Elnaz Rekabi has returned to Tehran, together with the rest of the national team. She made the headlines for having competed in the Asian Games without the veil, which is compulsory for athletes when they represent the Islamic Republic in international competitions.

Welcomed by a crowd, the sportswoman, all traces of whom had been lost for several days - friends and family had been unable to contact her - repeated what she had written on social media a few hours earlier: she had not worn the hijab. "It was not an intentional gesture, but an oversight due to haste" due to a delayed communication of the competition time and, although "under stress", she reiterated that she was "serene".

On leaving the capital's airport, Rekabi was put into a van, which drove slowly through the cheering crowd. But since then there has been no news and her brother Davood also seems to have disappeared into thin air after an intelligence summons. The fear is that both are already in the notorious Evin prison, where political prisoners and activists are locked up.

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