The UN Human Rights Council meets at the Palais des Nations in Geneva (Fabrice COFFRINI)

Iran is still meting out harsh punishments on people suspected of involvement in mass protests, including “chilling” executions, a United Nations fact-finding mission said Wednesday.

Iran was rocked by demonstrations sparked by the September 16 death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian Kurd who had been arrested for allegedly violating the strict dress rule for women based on Islamic sharia law.

At a special session in November, the UN Human Rights Council voted to create a high-level investigation into the deadly crackdown.

Reporting to the council, Sara Hossain, chair of the independent international fact-finding mission, said that 10 months on, the Amini family’s “right to truth and justice remains unfulfilled”.

“The lack of transparency around the investigations into her death is further evidenced by the arrest and continued detention of the two women journalists, Nilufar Hamedi and Elahe Mohammadi, who first reported on the event,” she added.

Iran has said that 22,000 people have been pardoned in connection with the protests — which “suggests that many more were detained or charged”, Hossain said.

No official data exists on the nature of the allegations against them, or on those convicted, detained or charged in connection with the protests, she said.

Hossain said pardoned protesters were reportedly made to express remorse — “to effectively admit guilt” in signing written undertakings not to commit “similar crimes” in future.

“Harsh punishments continue to be meted out to those involved in the protests, including for exercising rights protected under international human rights law,” she said.

“Most chilling, seven men have already been executed following hasty proceedings marred by serious allegations of fair trial violations, including confessions extracted under torture.”

The fact-finding mission called on Tehran to stop the executions of individuals sentenced to death in connection with the protests, and urged Iran to release all those detained for peaceful assembly and reporting on the protests.

Hossain also urged Tehran to cooperate with the investigation.

– Iran blames West –

In response, Kazem Gharib Abadi, secretary general of Iran’s high council for human rights, said Western countries fomented the protests and “terrorists entered the scene”.

“More than 75 law enforcement forces and people were martyred by the rioters, and over 7,000 law enforcement forces were also injured,” he said.

“The policy of Iran vis-a-vis the riots was to use the minimal legal powers,” he insisted, while branding the establishment of the UN investigation “politically motivated and unacceptable”.

He claimed that one social media channel “taught how to make bombs”, and another “created more than 50,000 fake Farsi accounts to act against Iran”, while foreign “anti-Iranian” TV channels “dedicated their capacities to notorious terrorists for interviews”.

He also pointed to the recent riots against police violence in France, which he said was “witnessing the use of excessive force against peaceful protesters, widespread arbitrary arrests, and restrictions on the internet and social media”.

“It would be prudent for the Human Rights Council to convene a special session to examine the situation in France,” he said.

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