NZ suspends human rights talks with Iran

New Zealand suspended bilateral human rights talks with Iran in response to Tehran’s brutal crackdown on civil unrest.

Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta said New Zealand wants to send a “strong signal” to protest the latest repression of the Islamic Republic.

“Aotearoa New Zealand continues to be appalled by the use of force by the Iranian authorities in response to peaceful protests following Mahsa Amini’s death last month,” he said.

“Violence against women, girls or any other member of Iranian society to prevent their exercise of universal human rights is unacceptable and must stop.”

The human rights dialogue started in 2018 but met only once, last year, due to COVID-19.

New Zealand is also calling for an investigation into the use of force by the authorities, with over 200 civilians believed to have been killed in the past six weeks.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern also added her name to an open letter – signed by some of the world’s most prominent women leaders – to remove Iran from the UN Commission on the Status of Women.

Other signatories include Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton, Christine Lagarde and Malala Yousafazi.

New Zealand’s response to the human rights crisis has been shaped by the detention of two kiwis in Iran.

Travel bloggers Topher Richwhite and Bridget Thackwray were trapped in the Islamic Republic for about three months until last week, when their whereabouts and release were made public.

New Zealand media organizations have agreed not to release details as the government negotiates their exit.

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