UN says social change in Iran is inevitable
©2002 IranMania & AFP
Ayatollah Mahmud Hashemi-Shahrudi has overseen the imprisonment of numerous journalists and political dissidents during his time as the head of the judiciary.
GENEVA, March 20 (AFP) - A United Nations human rights expert signalled on Wednesday that political and social change in Iran had reached the stage where it was unstoppable.
Maurice Copithorne, special representative of UN commission on human rights, said in a report that the judiciary, which is dominated by conservative clerics, was largely responsible for ongoing abuse.
But he described transition in Iran as inevitable despite strong opposition and hinted at sympathy for "the president's aspirations for his country".
Reformist President Mohammad Khatami is locked in a struggle with conservative clerics led by the country' supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
"The special representative believes that Iranian society has been evolving over many years and this momentum cannot now be turned aside," Copithorne said in his report to the annual meeting of the 53 member commission here.
"Change is inevitable," he said, adding that most of the pressure for reform, especially concerning the treatment of women, was coming from within Iran.
He noted that "the principal obstacle to reform, to the introduction and nourishment of a culture of human rights, is the judiciary, its patrons and its supporters."
"It is a group that bears a heavy responsibility for the ongoing violations of human rights in Iran," he went on.
Among the obstacles, Copithorne listed the clampdown on the reformist press, the situation of women, slow reform of the judiciary and discrimination against ethnic and religious minorities.
His concern focused on the situation of the Bahai religious minority despite progress in recent years, and of ethnic Persian Christians. The report also highlighted complaints of discrimination against ethnic minorities, including Kurds and an estimated 30 million Azeris.
"Twenty-two years later, revolutionary truths are simply not adequate tools to meet Iran's many problems, no least of which is the need for a tolerant diverse society."
Copithorne's mandate is due to end at the commission session, which ends on April 26.
Iran has asked to be removed from special scrutiny at the UN human rights commission after 19 years of facing condemnation for its human rights record.
©Copyright 2002, IranMania