Testimony by United Nations Watch to 52nd Session of the Human Rights Council, General Debate under Agenda Item 3, delivered by Luis Fernando Cohn Pelaez on 17 March 2023:
Thank you, Mr. President.
We commend the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders for her report. On page 13, she writes: “In the Islamic Republic of Iran, women human rights defenders have shown remarkable resilience in sustaining widespread protests for women’s rights.” And she rightly notes: “The response by the authorities has been brutal.”
In this regard, we raise before this Council, and before the world, the case of Sepideh Gholian. Just days ago, this labor rights activist was finally released from Evin prison, after more than four years of arbitrary detention.
She had been thrown into prison in January 2019, convicted on trumped-up national security charges, after she peacefully supported striking workers.
Iranian state TV aired footage of her confessing to taking part in alleged Western-backed efforts to overthrow the government. In fact, she had been beaten and was forced to make a false confession.
In January, she published on BBC Persian a letter describing the brutal methods used by interrogators to force confessions, and the screams heard within the prison.
She added: “Today the sounds we hear across Iran are louder than the sounds in interrogation rooms; this is the sound of a revolution, the true sound of ‘Woman, life, freedom’.”
A few days ago, as soon as Sepideh Gholian walked a few steps out of Evin prison, after more than four years of incarceration, defiantly not wearing the compulsory Hijab, she cried out, “Khamenei the tyrant, we’ll drag you into the ground!”
Mr. President, we now learn that the tyrants sent 10 cars to kidnap her, and have re-arrested Sepideh once again. Will this Council take action to protect her?
I thank you.
Our appeal to UN just now: “As Sepideh Gholian walked out of Evin prison on Wednesday, after 4 years of incarceration, she defiantly called out Ayatollah Khamenei as a tyrant. So yesterday he sent 10 cars to kidnap and re-arrest her. Will this Council take action to protect her?” pic.twitter.com/sSJ5zoj46M
— UN Watch (@UNWatch) March 17, 2023