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09/10/2023 English

HRC54 Side Event with KMMK-G, Minority Rights Group, ECPM, and IED: Statement from Sabah Bandoui

Statement from Balochistan Human Rights Organization’s Sabah Bandoui, from side event “IRAN’S WOMEN, MINORITIES AND THE FIGHT FOR RIGHTS · One Year After Jina Mahsa Amini’s Death in Custody”. Find our recap of the 54th session of the Human Rights Council for more information.

Ladies and gentlemen, honourable guests,

Balochistan Human Rights Group is thankful for the organisers of this event to allow to voice the struggles of the Baluch people.

On September 16th, 2022, Jina Mahsa Amini’s death in Tehran police custody ignited nationwide protests, thrusting Iran’s human rights struggle onto the global stage. Less reported were concurrent protests in Baluchistan, sparked by the rape of 15-year-old Mahoo by a local police chief in June 2022. When the wave of unrest from Jina Amini’s death reached Baluchistan, civilians then joined the Women Life Freedom Movement, enduring heavy costs.

On September 30th, 2022, known as “Bloody Friday,” state forces brutally targeted peaceful Baluch protesters in Zahedan after Friday prayers in broad daylight, resulting in approximately 135 deaths, including women and 20 children. This marked the deadliest day of repression in the movement’s history. Innocent people were shot indiscriminately as they left Friday prayers on their way to join peaceful demonstrations. Amongst the victims includes a child with bullets in the back of their head and another dead as a result of gas inhalation.

The Islamic Republic has embraced a totalitarian approach, leading to severe oppression and a division between “ingroup” and “outgroup.” The Baluch people have borne the brunt of this oppression, facing gross human rights violations. Many Baluch individuals are denied national identification, which hinders their access to education, healthcare, and social services. Hundreds of thousands lack formal identification, such was the case of  Khodanoor Lagahi. This population control tactic by the Iranian regime makes it impossible to determine the exact population of Baluchistan, requiring us to rely on estimates.

In minority areas like Baluchistan and Kurdistan, the situation is dire. Baluch people endure disproportionate state repression, making up about 30% of those executed as reported in a recent UN report, even though they constitute only 4% of Iran’s population. On top of this, Baluchistan, Iran’s poorest province, grapples with severe socio-economic challenges.

Iran’s marginalised and minoritised communities, like Baluch and Kurdish ethnic minorities, plus religious groups such as the Baha’i and Yarasani, suffer severe state oppression due to historical neglect. The government treats them as unequal due to cultural, religious and linguistic differences, with limited international scrutiny, creating a global accountability problem.

In Baluchistan and Kurdistan, ethnic and gender apartheid is evident. Minority women, particularly Baluch women, face profound discrimination. Born into poverty, lacking basic rights, and often without birth certificates, their future opportunities for education, voting, and banking are grim. Forced into early marriages, often with partners who share their educational, social and legal disadvantages. These men have no choice but to enter perilous professions like fuel transportation, known for its high mortality rates due to attacks and mines. These attacks reveal the regime’s intent to cause death and destruction. Survivors may face execution in sham trials, perpetuating a cycle of oppression and poverty resulting from widespread human rights abuses. Baluch women, tired of generations of injustice, courageously protest in major Baluchistan cities, demanding basic human rights, regardless of the potential costs.

So the question comes: what can the international Community do to help?

Despite the grim circumstances, voices within Baluchistan are growing stronger. BHRG calls on the international community to resume its responsibility and to put an end to the regimes systemic violations against the Baluch people and all Iranians exercising their fundamental rights.

Please support efforts for accountability in Iran, including the investigation by the International Fact-Finding Mission on the Islamic Republic of Iran and prosecutions in third countries using universal jurisdiction.

Lastly, we encourage you to utilise all available UN avenues, including the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly, to mobilise international pressure for change and end the repression of the Baluch and other Iranians.