UNGA-78 Side Event Highlights The Ongoing Persecution of Minorities in Iran

NEW YORK, NY – An event titled “One Year of ‘Woman, Life, Freedom’: The Ongoing Persecution of Minorities in the Islamic Republic of Iran” hosted by Human Rights Activists in Iran (HRA) in partnership with OutRight International was held in New York, at Scandinavia House. The gathering, in the margins of the 78th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA-78), addressed the ongoing human rights situation in Iran.

The event was a reminder of the challenges faced by minorities in Iran, especially in the wake of the “Woman, Life, Freedom” protests. The demonstrations, which began a year ago following the tragic death in detention of Zhina Mahsa Amini, have drawn attention to the Iranian authorities’ excessive use of force and rampant human rights violations.

Independent journalist, Deepa Parent, expertly moderated the session. Opening remarks were courageously delivered by Iranian human rights activists, who, despite the risks, provided virtual comments directly from within Iran.

Dr. Javaid Rehman, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Iran, offered insightful keynote remarks that outlined the challenges and potential paths forward for improving human rights in the country.

Dr. Javaid Rehman at the side event of the UN General Assembly (78th session)

Skylar Thompson, representing Human Rights Activists (HRA) presented three key areas the international community can urgently address the cycle of impunity in Iran including through continuing to support UN-led investigations including through the renewal of the FFMI mandate, the renewal of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Iran and steadfast support for resolutions on Iran. Second, she added the need for pursuing international pathways to justice notably through the use of universal jurisdiction in light of the unwillingness to investigate violations domestically. She concluded that the continued and united condemnation against violations of human rights and international law are essential because as she stated, “silence is complicity.”

Other panelists, including Simin Fahendej from the Baha’i International Community (BIC) and Awin Mostafazade from Kurdpa, provided rich context to the discussion, shedding light on the depth and breadth of discrimination that various minority groups encounter daily.

As the event concluded, the consensus was clear: the international community must redouble its efforts to address the plight of minorities in Iran. The event, which was open to the media, will undoubtedly leave a lasting impression on all who attended.

UNGA-78 Side Event: One Year of “Woman, Life, Freedom”: The Ongoing Persecution of Minorities in the Islamic Republic of Iran

One Year of “Woman, Life, Freedom”: The Ongoing Persecution of Minorities in the Islamic Republic of Iran

UNGA-78 Side Event

Date: October 27, 2023
Time: 12:30 – 1:30 EST
Location: Scandinavia House, 58 Park Ave, New York, NY 10016


This side event will gather States, United Nations human rights experts, and NGOs monitoring the situation of human rights in Iran and offer an update on the situation of minorities inside ofIran over the past year in the context of the “Woman, Life, Freedom” protests and beyond.

Experts will share elements of analysis and provide recommendations as to what should be done going forward, including seeking redress to victims, and holding perpetrators accountable. A particular emphasis will be placed on the specific role of minorities in Iran and the challenges they have and continue to face in light of ongoing persecution at the hands of Iranian authorities.


It has been just over one year since the death in detention of Zhina Mahsa Amini, which triggered widespread protests throughout the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI). While largely peaceful, the “Woman, Life, Freedom” protests were met with excessive force from authorities, leading to seemingly endless human rights violations and potential violations of international law.

Next to targeting women in all their diversity for not adhering to the oppressive and forced gender norms and stereotypes as decreed by the regime, the protests also shed light on the widespread discrimination against minority groups inside of the country. Ethnic, religious, sexual and gender minorities are frequently the subject of discrimination in both law and practice.

Despite longstanding and widespread calls for accountability impunity remains the norm, while pressure on minority groups inside of Iran persists and, in some ways, increases, seemingly, with the aim to discourage and crush any form of dissent and protest in the country.

Moderator: Deepa Parent, Independent journalist covering conflict and human rights

Opening Remarks: Iranian human rights activists, virtual remarks from inside of Iran

Keynote Remarks: Dr. Javaid Rehman, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Iran

● Skylar Thompson, Director of Global Advocacy and Accountability
Human Rights Activists (HRA)
● Simin Fahendej, United Nations Representative
Baha’i International Community
● Awin Mostafazade, Iranian human rights activist, Spokesperson
● +1 TBC

The event will be on the record and open to the media.