by John J. Metzler
Weirs Times Contributing Writer
UNITED NATIONS – The human rights situation in the Islamic Republic of Iran remains grim and dire despite a number of diplomatic breakthroughs and an overall thaw in relations between the Tehran regime and the West. Thus while Iran has profited by a nuclear “deal” with key Western powers and China and has moreover been included in talks for a long overdue political settlement in Syria, the situation inside the Islamic Republic is still characterized by fear, executions and religious intolerance.
A UN report on the “Situation of Human Rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran,” paints a bleak picture of a land gripped by political and social repression, gender discrimination and increasingly so, public executions. According to the Report, “The Islamic Republic of Iran continues, however to execute more more individuals per capita than any other country in the world. Executions have been rising at an exponential rate since 2005 and packed in 2014, at a shocking 753 executions.”
The Report continues, “This spate reportedly accelerated at a further staggering rate during the first seven months of this year. At least 694 individuals were reportedly executed by hanging as of 15 September 2015.” The pace of hangings puts the execution rate at the highest in 25 years.
Ahmed Shaheed, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on human rights in Iran, adds however that the escalation in executions is “seemingly related to the response of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the increasing influx of drugs and rising levels of drug abuse in the country.” He says that “at least 69 percent of executions during the first six moths of 2025 were reportedly for drug related offenses.” Iran faces widespread illegal narcotics use, likely as a result of the depressing social and economic prospects for the population.
Dr. Shaheed, a former Foreign Minister from the Maldive islands and human rights advocate, compiled the 26 page document.
The Report adds that laws and practices “continue to undermine the rights to freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly in the Islamic Republic of Iran…at least 46 journalists and social media activists were reportedly either in detention or sentenced for their peaceful activities.”
“Journalists, social media activists and human rights defenders continued to be interrogated and arrested by government agencies,” states the survey. The notorious Revolutionary Guards Corps and cyber-policing units continue to spread this chill of suppression.
In what has become one of Iran’s rites of Autumn, protesters chanting “Death to America” and burning the US flag, marked the 36th anniversary of the seizure of the U.S. embassy in Tehran.
Sadly since the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979, women rights are under attack. Here the Report states equivocally, “Gender based discrimination in matters of civil, political, social and economic rights continue to overshadow the remarkable advances the Islamic Republic of Iran has achieved in women’s education and health. The country also remains in the bottom fifth percentile of 142 countries in overall equality for women.”
A “Plan to Protect Promoters of Virtue and Preventers of Vice” was adopted by parliament this year; in effect, according to Dr. Shaheed, the law “encourages Iranian citizens to enforce laws that prohibit acts considered to be vices under Islamic Sharia law. This includes strict enforcement of hijab (female dress) for all Iranian women.”
Current reformist President Rouhani signed an order to allow women to enter stadiums to watch the men’s national team play during the 2015 World League in Tehran. This seemingly innocuous move faced political pushback from the Interior Minister and local zealots who decried women watching men play sports and to “prevent sports authorities from allowing vice.”
And although the Iranian constitutions theoretically allows freedom of religions for non-Islamic minorities such as Zoroastrians, Jews and Christians, in fact strict restrictions and discrimination. Shaheed stated bluntly, “Restrictions on the rights of religious minorities in the Islamic Republic of Iran remain deeply concerning.”
The Report’s conclusions include encouraging the government to amend laws “that continue to undermine women’s full enjoyment of civl political, social, and economic rights, including rights in family law, the right to equal access to education and the right to work.”
Thus as Tehran’s diplomacy and image make new strides in the gullible West, largely due to the Obama Administration’s political desire to seal a nuclear deal with Iran, the grim facts remain that the Islamic Republic remains a theocratic and authoritarian regime who has not substantially changed its dour domestic policies of repression, coercion and intolerance. So what should we expect of their international intentions?
John J. Metzler is a United Nations correspondent covering diplomatic and defense issues. He is the author of Divided Dynamism The Diplomacy of Separated Nations: Germany, Korea, China.