National, ethnic, religious and linguistic minority rights in Iran, 20 years after its adoption at the UN


In a special page dedicated to the 20th anniversary of the adoption of Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities, OHCHR of the UN had this to say:

Every country has national or ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities within its borders. Persons belonging to minorities aspire to participate in the public, social, economic, cultural and religious life of the societies in which they live, on an equal footing with the rest of the population.

Twenty years ago, UN Member States adopted unanimously the Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities, an acknowledgment that a gap existed in minority rights protection. This gap persists today.

The Minority Rights Declaration established that States have an obligation to acknowledge and promote the rights of minorities to enjoy their own cultures and identities, to profess and practice their own religions and use their own languages.

The Declaration ushered in a new era for minority rights. It sets essential standards for protection and offers guidance to States as they seek to realize the human rights of minorities.

Although the regime of Islamic Republic of Iran is a signatory to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities (English | French | Spanish), Iran continues to deny nationally deprived nationalities their basic basic rights accorded to them by the Declaration.

-The current constitution in Iran vaguely allows for the use of “tribal” and “regional” languages ” in the press and mass media, as well as the teaching of their literature in schools alongside Persian”; however, even this downgraded and restricted right has not been allowed to be exercised by millions of people speaking languages other than the official language, Persian or Farsi after more than 3 decades of this regime’s reign and 2 decades following becoming signatory to the Declaration.

-Article 19 of the constitution considers everyone “regardless of ethnic group or tribe” equal; however in practice people belonging to Kurdish, Azeri, Baluchi, Arab and Turkmen nationalities who, according to unofficial estimates, make up more than half of Iran’s population are under-privileged, and enjoy little human, political, economic, social and cultural rights compared to the dominant Persian nationality who are also suffering from the reign of this dictatorship to some extent.

-Women who make-up more than half of the population in Iran enjoy little or no rights under the existing laws, making them half humans under the law and depriving them from the right to be elected to the high offices such as the presidency.  Sunnis who make up the largest religious minority in Iran are not recognized under the law and suffer similar discrimination as women.  Some of the other religions such as Baha’is and Yarsans and others are heavily suppressed and their rights are violated.

- Christians in Iran suffer greatly for their faith and risk grave danger.  There are reports that Christian Monuments and Churches Destroyed and Neglected by Iranian Government.  Other reports indicate that there has been a spike in the arrest of Christians Iran and  Iranian pastors faces death in prison all of which, according to accounts, have led to the mass exodus of Christian from Iran.

- Jew in Iran have long complained of harassment and intimidation under the Islamic regime in Iran.  Since the revolutions many of them have been imprisoned and executed on trumped-up charges of spying for Israel.  The Jewish community in Iran is under constant pressure to convert to Islam.

Baha’is in Iran long have been subject to particularly severe religious freedom violations. On November 27, by a vote of 83 to 31 with 68 abstentions, the UN General Assembly’s Third Committee passed a resolution calling attention to widespread and severe human rights abuses in Iran. The resolution specifically mentioned “[i]Increased persecution and human rights violations against persons belonging to unrecognized religious minorities, particularly members of the Baha’i faith and their defenders, including escalating attacks, an increase in the number of arrests and detentions, the restriction of access to higher education on the basis of religion, the sentencing of twelve Baha’is associated with Baha’i educational institutions to lengthy prison terms, the continued denial of access to employment in the public sector, additional restrictions on participation in the private sector, and the de facto criminalization of membership in the Baha’i faith.


Recent reports on the gross human rights violations in Iran under the regime of Islamic Republic of Iran:


>> Report of the SR on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran (A/HRC/19/66)

>> Note by the Secretary-General on the situation of Human Rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran (A/66/374)

>>Human Rights Watch reports on the steady stream of Iranian political, civic and human activists, especially Kurds seeking refuge abroad.  Click here

>> The Hidden Side of Iran: Discrimination against ethnic and religious minorities by International Federation for Human Rights.  Click here

>> In Their Own Words: Human Rights Violations against Iran’s Kurdish Minority by Iran Human Rights Documentation Center.  Click here

>> European Parliament debate on ethnic minorities in Iran.  MEPs send out an strong and unequivocal message to the Iranian government that its ongoing persecution of ethnic minorities cannot be tolerated and should be dealt with.  Click here

>> The latest report on Human Rights conditions in Iran by the U.S. State Department’s points a dark image of violations and mistreatment by Iranian regime. (News link  |  U.S. State Department annual report)


Also see related documents:

>>United Nations Forum on Minority Issues – Compilation of Recommendations of the First Four Sessions 2008 to 2011 English | French | Spanish

Prepared by Sharif Behruz


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3 Responses to National, ethnic, religious and linguistic minority rights in Iran, 20 years after its adoption at the UN

  1. SHARIF BEHRUZ says:

    From Gerald A. Honigman:
    Take 2–trying to get the urls to be “live”: Sharif…What a pleasure reading your material here…On this same general subject, please see these related articles by myself and a YouTube I made on this as well.

    and a timely, updated version of the article with its accompanying You Tube video.
    Reply · Like · Follow Post ·

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