June 26, 2019 — In response to soaring tensions between Iran and the United States, 116 Iranian human rights defenders and groups based inside and outside the country have signed a statement warning of the “devastating” consequences of a military conflict.
The impact of military action on Iran would “lead to an accelerated human rights and humanitarian crisis and would only serve to destabilize an already troubled region,” said the statement co-organized by United for Iran and the Center for Human Rights in Iran.
The signatories–including activists, lawyers, journalists, and lawyers–have long advocated for the rights of the Iranian people. Those who are based in Iran have done so despite the grave risks of arrest and imprisonment for engaging in peaceful activism.
Following is the letter, which is also available on our Persian-language website.
We, the undersigned Iranian and international human rights organizations and advocates, express grave concerns over the rising tensions between the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran, which risks a military confrontation that would cause massive human rights harms. We urge all parties and international actors to take immediate and clear steps to prevent a conflict.
The impact of any military action in Iran, as we have seen in neighboring countries, would be devastating. It would likely lead to an accelerated human rights and humanitarian crisis and could only serve to destabilize an already troubled region. Only peace-focused policies that prioritize the rights and well-being of ordinary people in Iran and the region can provide meaningful, long-term benefits.
We have a deep understanding of the problems in Iran, including human rights challenges and corruption within some government sectors. We have dedicated our lives to strengthening the rights of women and girls, ethnic minorities, religious minorities, workers, journalists, university students, LGBTQ people, artists, and political prisoners in Iran. We have fought for the freedom of speech, freedom of religion, the right to a fair trial, socio-economic rights of the Iranian people, and an end to discrimination. We have consistently opposed Iranian authorities in their abuse of power and oppressive policies. It is from this perspective that we warn against the threat posed by military conflict.
We also fear that military action against Iran will be disastrous for millions of ordinary people and could lead to the type of violent sectarian civil conflict seen in neighboring countries. The instability of these conflicts and the extent to which they pit groups of people against each other has led to immeasurable human rights abuses.
Many Iran-based human rights defenders have expressed dismay that broad economic sanctions imposed by the US and the specter of war have already made their work more difficult. Many of them are struggling to make ends meet in a depressed economy, while their activities have become increasingly risky in a heightened security environment. The threat of war has strengthened support for the Iranian state’s security approaches and has been used as a pretext to crack down on activists. Minority communities, who have little space for civic activism, suffer the brunt of crackdowns at such times. Many Iranian human rights defenders fear that an actual military conflict would give the Iranian security forces an opportunity to finally put a complete stop to their advocacy efforts.
These concerns reflect some of the likely outcomes of any military confrontation in Iran, underscoring the need for peaceful and legal solutions to any tensions between states.
We urge all parties to show maximum restraint. We ask that the United Nations Secretary-General, the European Union, and the government of Japan, as well as countries in the region that have stepped in the past to foster peace, to intervene to prevent the outbreak of war and deepening human rights and humanitarian crisis.
For a list of the 116 signatories, click here.
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