Throughout the past two weeks, there have been continued calls for the cancelation of Iranian Minister of Justice Ali Reza Avaei’s speech at the UN Human Rights Council, which is scheduled for February 27. The Iranian opposition has also called for Avaei to be arrested and charged for his participation in the 1988 massacre of political prisoners, which meets the definition of a war crime.
Now the United States is weighing in on Avaei’s speech, as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley commented, “The Human Rights Council should be ashamed to allow Mr. Avaei to address its membership Yet again, the Council discredits itself by allowing serial human rights abusers to highjack its work and make a mockery of its mandate to promote universal human rights. This does nothing but reinforce the United States’ call for much needed reforms at the Council for it to be viewed as a good investment of our time and money,” said Haley.
Additionally, the Justice for the Victims of the 1988 Massacre in Iran (JVMI) has issued an appeal to ban Avaei from speaking and they outline his deplorable record of human rights abuses and violations.
“Avaei was Prosecutor-General and member of the 1988 Death Commission in Dezful, south-west Iran, that extra-legally sent large numbers of political prisoners to their death. At a civil society hearing in Geneva on February 1, 2018, survivors of the massacre and international human rights experts testified about the massacre, which under the Rome Statute constituted a crime against humanity. Avaei’s name was repeatedly brought up over his role in the massacre,” said the JVMI statement.
The Iranian Justice Minister has also been included on the European Union’s sanctions list for human rights abuses as of 2011, although it has been indicated that he will be allowed to travel to Geneva to speak to the council. Avaei is also on the list of financial sanctions for the UK regarding his human rights violations.
France Libertés also strongly denounced Avaei’s speech in a statement. “France Libertés is deeply concerned that the Iranian Minister of Justice…is on the list of speakers during the high-level personalities segment at the opening of the next session of the Human Right Council,” said Gilbert Mitterrand, President of France Libertés.
These are just a few of the calls for his speech to be canceled, but if Avaei gives his scheduled speech, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) indicated that they would be holding a protest in front of the UN headquarters in Geneva during his presentation.