Middle East

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LONDON: Human Rights Watch has decried another year of abuses and repression in Iran in its World Report 2022.

“Iranian intelligence and judicial authorities continued their crackdown on dissent in 2021, while lawmakers passed and debated laws that further violate human rights,” HRW said on Thursday, in a statement supporting the release of the report.

The annual World Report challenges human rights violations globally, and this year a significant portion of the 752-page paper was dedicated to Iran.

“Iranian authorities repressing popular demands for civil and political as well as economic, social, and cultural rights is causing an entire nation irreplaceable harm,” said Michael Page, deputy Middle East director at HRW. “Change, of course, is necessary, unavoidable, and urgent.”

HRW said poverty has increased and living conditions have deteriorated in Iran over the past year “due to government mismanagement, the Covid-19 pandemic, and US sanctions.”

But instead of taking constructive action to deal with the array of internal challenges such as COVID-19 effectively, Tehran has “mismanaged and politicized its response to the pandemic, especially its national vaccine procurement plan that was slow and untransparent during the first months of 2021.”

In the early days of the pandemic, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei made the controversial decision to ban vaccines made by the UK and US — then the most effective vaccines available. He later reversed that decision, but many Iranians had already died.

HRW also slammed Tehran’s continued use of arbitrary detention against human rights campaigners to quell dissent, and highlighted the judiciary’s continued opacity in its investigation of the Iranian downing in 2020 of a Ukrainian plane that killed 176 people.

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