Analysis: Iranian human rights situation following Iran deal
Following the Iranian nuclear deal, the human rights situation in the Islamic Republic of Iran has continued to deteriorate. Sanctions relief has not improved human rights for average Iranian citizens.
Oct 26, 2015, 06:00PM | Rachel Avraham
Photo Credit: Channel 2
A recent report by the Boroujerdi Civil Rights Group has documented that in spite of Iranian promises in the wake of the Iran deal, the rate of executions remains high, the jailing of journalists and human rights activists continues unabated, and the lack of freedom of expression and discrimination against women continues to be widespread: “The five main reasons for death penalties in Iran are heresy, rape, murder, drug smuggling and armed struggle. Capital punishment has spiked under Rouhani. More than 2000 executions were carried in Iran during President Rouhani’s period since October 3, 2013. The human rights situation has not improved since Rouhani became President two years ago.”
The Boroujerdi Civil Rights Group noted that the rate of executions in Iran has risen by 16% since the last year of Ahmadinejad’s presidency, despite the perception in the West that Rouhani is a moderate and Ahmadinejad was a hard core extremist: “Furthermore, Iran has the horrible status of being the world’s last official executioner of child offenders, people convicted of crimes when they were under the age of 18.”
The report noted that the UN confirmed that the Bahais are still persecuted in Iran despite claims by the Iranian government to the contrary: “Bahai citizens continue to face discrimination, arrest and arbitrary detention in connection with their religion. Bahais have been systematically persecuted since 1979; extremist Islamic groups close to the regime have confiscated their property and assets.” The report also noted that Bahais are not given work permits, are deprived of the right to attend university, and have any representative in parliament, a privilege that is given to other religious groups within the country. They stressed that Bahais aren’t even permitted to bury their loved ones in public cemeteries: “Since 2005, more than 800 Bahais have been arrested. Over the years, thousands of pieces of anti-Bahai propaganda have been disseminated in the Iranian media.”
According to the report, Iran treats the Baloch nation living with her border like second class citizens: “Balochistan has the lowest economic participation in the country, the highest illiteracy rate, the highest unemployment rate, the highest percentage of poverty, the highest rate of executions, the highest mortality rates for mothers and children, and the highest percentage of malnutrition. Living in the poor region of Balochistan is a torture in itself, but the people of this region go through different types of tortures and persecutions. The medieval tortures are a bitter memorial that Iran’s officials have been using against Baloch dissidents in the regimes detention centers.” According to the report, the methods of torture employed against Baloch dissidents include waterboarding, pulling out fingernails, cutting off fingers, hanging the dissidents from the ceiling, lashings, high voltage shocks, shoving sharp objects into sensitive organs, burning sensitive organs, rape, roast chicken torture, mock executions, sexual harassment, hanging objects from the testicles, and lethal injection.
The report that the Kurds suffer like the Baloch: “The cross-border carry trade is the main source of income of some for the Kurds due to the unemployment which forces them to face serious risks of climbing the impassable mountains and covering more than 300 kilometers while carrying stuff on their backpacks. This is perilous due to landmine explosions, gunfire by snipers and Border Security forces, and the danger of falling into the valleys or rivers where they are located. What the ethnic and religious minorities are asking for is an end to discrimination, the creation of employment opportunities for the minorities, and the right to teach in their native language, things that are the people’s natural right.”
However, Iran’s ethnic and religious minority groups are not the only ones that are still suffering following the Iran deal. “The executions and violations of human rights in Iran is politically motivated,” Iranian dissident Shabnam Assadollahi stressed. “According to data gathered by the United Nations, Iranian officials have pushed for the execution of those they see as a threat to their system. Iran's President Hassan Rouhani's promises of bringing dignity and hope to the nation, freeing political prisoners, promoting civil rights, and bringing moderation for Iranians were broken almost immediately upon his taking office. Not only have the promises made by Rouhani to the UNHCR never been kept, but since Rouhani took office in August 2013, executions, persecution and human rights violations have significantly increased. Human Rights organizations including Amnesty International report that at least 2000 individuals, including juveniles, were executed by hanging since June of 2013.”
Assadollahi stressed that UN Human Rights Rapporteur Dr. Ahmed Shaheed noted that Iran now has the highest death penalty rate per capita: “At a meeting in Ottawa, Dr. Shaheed expressed his concerns to me about the increasing number of child bride marriages among 14-16 year-olds under Rouhani’s Presidency. Shaheed also expressed alarm about the pretext for the executions in Iran: ‘We have seen a person executed for making a donation to a foreign organization.’ Shaheed also said that has was ‘shocked’ by the hanging of 26-year-old Reyhaneh Jabbari, (the one year anniversary of her execution was yesterday) who was convicted of murdering a former intelligence officer she said had tried to sexually assault her. Shaheed said that he had repeatedly raised with Tehran questions about the fairness of her trial.”
“While the international community including the newly elected Liberal Government of Canada under the leadership of Justin Trudeau are focused on releasing sanctions and having a relationship with Iran, it is easy to ignore the fact that Iran is also one of the world's worst human rights violators,” Assadollahi emphasized. “When the constitution of a country and the law of the land are based upon Sharia and Islamic law, inequality between men and women, Retribution Law, executions for being enemy of God (Mohareb), and death by hanging, there is little hope of anyone condemning these acts.”
“After Rouhani became President of Iran, the U.S administration of President Obama and the EU under the pretext of diplomacy, took advantage of just engaging in negotiations to bring economic advantages to all three parties,” Assadollahi proclaimed. “The U.S. and private Western businesses, as well as the regime of Iran, took advantage of the sanctions loosened by the U.S. to sell to the freshly-opened market. And Iran, absolved of sanctions, kept developing the nuclear program and increasing centrifuges as well as receiving billions of dollars.”
“As for the West, when the Iranian regime accelerated its nuclear program, people went the usual route, from being concerned to being indifferent to being complicit,” she noted. “The U.S. did not bring up the issue of human rights or even releasing innocent prisoners. The West seems so desperately eager to give Iran nuclear capability -- perhaps from the pressure of business lobbies and perhaps out of Obama's panic-stricken need for a legacy. What Obama does not realize is that if he does let Iran acquire nuclear capability, his ‘legacy’ will be just like that of Britain's Neville Chamberlain -- a laughing-stock, who held up a piece of paper he thought assured peace with Hitler.”
“Iran's human rights atrocities are being fanatically ignored by the Obama administration in favor of sitting down at the negotiating table with those who are causing them,” she declared. “The U.S. does not seem to realize, as the former Soviet dissident Nathan Sharansky said, that a country that does not treat its own citizens well will probably not treat its neighbors well either.”
“The regime of Iran needs to know that the international community is serious and Iran's human rights abuses will not go unnoticed,” Assadollahi noted. “But clearly the P5+1 group were not serious. They eliminated the only non-military means of inducing the Iranian regime to honor its international obligations: they lifted the sanctions.”
As the Honorable John Baird, Canada's former Minister of Foreign Affairs stated: "All who have long despaired about the Iranian regime, want to believe that Iran is genuinely committed to positive change. But we do not have the luxury of being naive, nor do the Iranian people, who have suffered for far too long under the regime's nuclear ambitions. Human rights, particularly executions, are actually getting worse under his watch and at the hands of Iran's so-called Minister of Murder. Kind words, a smile and a charm offensive are not a substitute for real action, nor are they an effective mask to disguise the old hatred. That's why I'm deeply skeptical about Iran's intentions. Until we are given real reasons to trust their words, Canadian sanctions will remain in full force. I believe there remains a strategic problem with the very nature and conduct of this belligerent regime—a regime that oppresses with terror at home and sponsors it abroad. And until the Supreme Leader's words and actions produce the human rights that the Iranian people deserve, or until he ceases his sponsorship of terrorism abroad in Syria, Lebanon and elsewhere, Canada will remain skeptical of the regime's intentions." But regretfully the new Liberal Government of Canada has promised to revoke Bill C24 and C51 and to have the reopening of the Islamic Regime of Iran’s embassy.
“I am a Canadian citizen and live in Canada, but I closely follow the U.S. policy in Iran and the Middle East,” Assadollahi explained. “In the U.S., Republicans and the Iranian-American community have been extremely helpful in bringing Iran's horrific human rights record to the forefront. Senators Mark Kirk and Marco Rubio introduced Iran Human Rights Accountability Act of 2014, not only to crack down on Iranian human rights abusers including Khamenei and President Rouhani, but also to support the Iranian people's hopes one day to have a democracy.”
“What did the P5+1's desperation to get a nuclear deal ‘at all costs’ say to the modern-day Iranians rotting in Evin prison,” Assadollahi asked rhetorically. “Or to the young social-media generation who took to the streets in 2009 after Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's fraudulent re-election? President Obama left these Iranians questioning — apparently correctly — the United States of America's commitment to their cause.”
“The Islamic Republic of Iran continues to arrest journalists, members of student organizations, teachers, and labor unions, lawyers defending dissidents, members of minority faiths and cultural groups, and civil rights activists and even the ordinary Iranian citizens who and speak out and write their opinions on their social media accounts,” Assadollahi emphasized. “Iran ranks second only to China in number of executions. In the execution of juveniles, it leads the world. Gender discrimination continues to deny women educational, legal and professional opportunities. Public events, such as sports matches, remain segregated.”
“The permanent and peaceful solution to this crisis is something that only Iran's democrats -- now being silently murdered in the Iran's prisons -- along with the help of the free world, can change,” Assadollahi concluded. “We just saw in the U.S. how tired they are of being lied to by government operatives who call them ‘stupid.’ Together, they can and will bring human rights back as a crucial value. When human rights are denied in one place, they can soon be denied in every place.”