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Iranian Dissidents Urge UN to Act Against Iran

Iranian dissidents in exile are calling on the U.N. Human Rights Council to keep Iran on its watch list and take action against the country's gross violations of human rights. Saturday marks a full year since Iran's disputed presidential election, and the activists say they are worried worry the government will take further repressive action to quell dissent.

The Iranian dissidents say Iran is gripped in a state of terror. One political activist, Ebrahim Mehtari, says he was detained twice by the Iranian security for a period of 10 days. He says he was beaten, tortured and sexually assaulted.

Another activist, Hadi Ghaemi, is executive director of a leading non-governmental organization, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.

He says the government reports it has detained some 6,000 protesters since last year's election, but he believes the true figure is twice as high.

Ghaemi says at least 500 people rounded up in the protests remain in prison, and that he has information they are being brutally treated. He also says 170 journalists have been detained in the last year and about 100 have been forced to flee the country.

"Nine political prisoners since November have been executed. All of them were detained and kept in prison before [the] election," said Ghaemi. "But the fact that we have not had any political executions for years, and suddenly in the last seven months we have had nine of them, is an indication that the government is ready to resort to executions as a means of putting down the protest movement," he continued.

Ghaemi says Iranians have asked the government for permission to hold a quiet, peaceful demonstration to mark the one-year anniversary of post-election violence, but no permit has been issued. He says an atmosphere of fear pervades Tehran.

"While we find this fear througout this society, we also find a lot of anger and frustration directed at the Supreme Leader and the government in general," he said "The government is really pushing the society toward spontaneous combustion, which could be quite unpredictable," he added.

For months, Ghaemi says, Iranian activists have been petitioning the U.N. Human Rights Council to take action against the Iranian regime. They have called on the Council to adopt some kind of monitoring mechanism and to appoint a special investigator to collect evidence of abuse.

"I am sorry to say that political and economic calculations are making many members not to pursue that. We find it shameful that a full year of atrocities has gone by and this Council has not taken any action on Iran in this procedure and has not issued any statement on it," Ghaemi concluded.

Ghaemi says Iran has strong support from the Organization of Islamic States, and is protected by its political allies and by countries that are themselves human rights violators.

He is critical of the European Union and the United States for failing to lead on this initiative. He says they are sacrificing human rights concerns because of their obsession with the nuclear weapons issue in Iran.