In a report to the Human Rights Council, the United Nations Secretary General has highlighted Iran’s government’s absolute failure to investigate violations of November 2019 protests and for harassing those seeking accountability, especially witnesses who testified at the Iran Atrocities (Aban) Tribunal.


The report pointed to tactics such as intimidation, threats, violence and imprisonment against those who called for accountability.


The Secretary General made use of examples such as the Ansarifars, who have been harassed and persecuted since the day Farzad Ansarifar, a 27-year-old tile-layer, was killed in the November 2019 protests.


His father, Amin Ansarifar, testified at the Tribunal in November 2021, and has since been detained and interrogated. Ansarifar’s daughter, Farzaneh, was sentenced to four years and six months imprisonment for seeking the truth about her brother’s death.


Though the Iranian government has a long history of persecution and prosecution of those seeking truth and justice, the insistence on burying the alleged crimes of November 2019 has intensified the harassment.


“The Secretary General’s assertion in showing that the Iranian government has taken no steps in breaking the cycle of impunity has left no excuse for the UN to not establish an independent investigatory mechanism to hold those responsible for heinous crimes accountable,” says Shadi Sadr, the Executive Director of Justice for Iran, co-organiser of Aban Tribunal.


Earlier this year, Justice for Iran, along with Amnesty International and 13 other human rights organisations, released a joint statement bringing these practices to light and calling for the UN to take the necessary steps.


The statement presented a pattern of persecution, harassment and ill-treatment against the families of those who testified at Aban Tribunal, as well as the other families of victims and human rights defenders who have called for accountability, and saw an increase after the second hearing in February 2022.


The Iran Atrocities (Aban) Tribunal is an international people’s tribunal formed as a response to the unprecedented crackdown on the November 2019 protests in Iran. Over 400 people contacted the Tribunal, wanting to testify against Iranian authorities (160 of whom have been accused) for their role in the murder, injury, torture, sexual abuse and rape, and other mistreatment of protestors, bystanders and their families.


The Tribunal heard 59 witnesses in 2021 and 2022, and has taken written testimony from over 200 others. The Tribunal is not only a way for victims of grave human rights abuses to be heard, but also the first step in pushing for official investigations and for the perpetrators to be held accountable.