During the past months the expansion of the Western sanctions against Iran has started to weigh heavily on day-to-day livelihood of the Iranian people. Since such sanctions were extended to cover the access of Iranian banks to international banking systems such as the SWIFT, their effects have extended beyond economic pressures and they have impacted the access of Iranian people to basic life-saving needs such as medications, medical devices and diagnostics. This is because, indiscriminate sanctions on the banking sector have made payments for imported medicines and medical technologies impossible and in addition, under significant political pressure Western pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers have decided to wind down or stop their operations in Iran.
According to several reports released by Iranian doctors and patient groups such as the Iranian society for Hemophilia and the Iranian Center for Special Diseases, a large number of Iranian patients with a wide range of diseases including cancers, hemophilia, multiple sclerosis, thalassemia and kidney failure face suffering or death as a result of the recent sanctions. This amounts to a total of six million Iranians. In addition, several vaccines have become impossible to procure which poses significant longer-term public health risks (for NY Times, Washington Post and Guardian coverage, please see below links).
We find these indiscriminate pressures on the Iranian people which are resulting in the suffering and death of children, women and men from all social strata inhuman and illegal.
We collectively ask international organizations representing the world society such as the United Nations and the World Health Organization to give voice to the suffering of the Iranian people. We call on these organizations to engage in dialog with and to put pressure on the Western governments, so that; they reconsider the terms of their economic warfare against the government of Iran to ensure they cause minimal indiscriminate suffering for the Iranian population.
We believe that indiscriminate Western sanctions against Iran in their current form are against the Geneva Convention and the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, because:
a. Access to medicine is a human right. The Western sanctions in their current form, given their effect on access to medicine, deprive the Iranian people of a basic human right as per article 25 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights.
b. In their current form, the Western sanctions against Iran are in breach of Article 51 of the additional protocol to the Geneva Conventions on protection of civilian population. Based on this article, the current sanctions represent “indiscriminate acts of hostility against civilian population”. The Geneva Conventions emphasize that “grave breaches of these instruments shall be regarded as war crimes against humanity”.
c. In their current form, the Western sanctions and their effects on access of the Iranian population to life saving medicines are in breach of the Article 54 of additional protocol to Geneva Convention on protection of civilian population. This article prohibits “to attack, destroy, remove or render useless objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population”. The sanctions employ methods “which cannot be directed at a specific military objective”.
Petition organized by a group of concerned Iranian medical doctors