International Human Rights Day Everywhere Except Iran
December 10th marks International Human Rights Day which will be celebrated by the United Nations and nations around the world as recognition of fundamental importance of human rights in free and open societies. The day will be observed with speeches, conferences, panel discussions, protests and solemn observances.
This year’s Human Rights Day will be devoted to a year-long campaign for the 50th anniversary of the two landmark International Covenants on Human Rights: the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which were adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 16 December 1966.
According to the UN Human Rights Office, the year-long campaign revolves around the theme of rights and freedoms — freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear — which underpin the International Bill of Human Rights are as relevant today as they were when the Covenants were adopted 50 years ago.
But respect for human rights have been found conspicuously lacking in certain parts of the world; most notably within the Iranian regime where things have gotten so grim the UN High Commissioner appointed Ahmed Shaheed as the Special Rapporteur on human rights in Iran to monitor the dismal state of affairs in the Islamic state.
Over the past year, 2015 has been a dark stain on human rights progress in Iran as chronicled in the steady stream of press releases put out by the UN about abuses there:
- January 2015: UN child rights body to investigate 12 countries including Iran for violations involving children;
- February 2015: UN experts urge Iran regime to halt immediately the execution of a juvenile sentenced by regime courts;
- March 2015: Human Rights Council adopts the Universal Periodic Review of Iran chronicling the litany of human rights lapses in the regime. The Council also discusses the annual report on human rights in Iran and extends mandates for further review of Iran;
- May 2015: UN rights experts condemn recent upsurge in executions by the Iran regime, many of them unreported;
- June 2015: UN experts warn that silencing journalists and activists weakens protections for human rights in Iran;
- August 2015: UN experts call for an immediate moratorium on applying the death penalty after regime hands downs death sentences to a prisoner of conscience and alternative health practitioner;
- October 2015: UN rights experts express outrage at the execution of two juvenile offenders; and
- November 2015: UN experts call on Iran regime to stop intimidating journalists ahead of parliamentary elections.
The UN announcements only cover a tip of the proverbial iceberg as Iranian dissident groups and international human rights groups such as Amnesty International have chronicled an ever growing list of human rights abuses by the Iran regime.
One observance was held in Paris by the Union of Iranian Associations in Europe and included former U.S. Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. Joseph Lieberman and Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, leader of the National Council of Resistance of Iran who said at the gathering:
“We honor the International Human Rights Day by paying respect to all brave men and courageous women in Iran and around the world who sacrificed their lives or have risen up to bring human rights and democratic freedoms to oppressed nations,” she said.
“Iran’s clerical regime has been condemned 62 times so far by various United Nations agencies for its gross violation of human rights in Iran. In addition, the regime and Khamenei himself, are directly responsible for the massacre of 300,000 Syrians in the past four years and displacement of more than half of the population; they are also directly responsible for the genocide of Sunnis in Iraq by the Quds Force militias,” she added.
The most recent UN condemnation came after 36 human rights organizations, led by Human Rights Watch, called on the regime to improve its human rights situation and for the international community to work together to promote human rights within Iran.
To say the situation is grim in Iran is an understatement since the regime’s revolutionary courts mete out punishment often in closed, secret sessions and impose often medieval punishments proscribed by religious doctrine which include public hangings and amputations of limbs, while also handing out no punishment to those that engage in acid attacks on women or abuse of children.
In 2014 alone, Shaheed noted a reported 753 executions, the highest rate in over a decade. This year rights groups have tallied over 1,000 executions in a staggering display of merciless regime justice.
The butcher’s bill doesn’t even include the bloodshed caused by the regime’s intervention and support of proxy wars in Syria, Iraq and Yemen that have caused the largest refugee crisis since World War II and claimed hundreds of thousands of lives of men, women and children.
But it is in the private agony suffered by individual prisoners in Iran’s notorious prisons where the true evil of the mullahs is laid bare to world scrutiny. One such story comes from Rahim Hamid who as a then 22-year old student in 2008 was taken by regime police and endured torture and abuse as he detailed in an interview with the Telegraph newspaper.
“Day and night I could hear the screaming and weeping of fellow prisoners – men, women and children – who were incarcerated and tortured there. It was the norm for guards to inflict casual cruelty, such as forbidding prisoners access to a toilet so that they were forced to urinate in the cell, which stank to a nausea-inducing extent in the heat,” Hamid said.
“Among other forms of physical torture, I was tied to a metal bed frame by the wrists and ankles and savagely whipped. If I resisted or cursed the guards, they would prolong and intensify the torture. They raped me violently and repeatedly with the large whip handle; so brutally that the rape did permanent injury to my rectum, for which I still need medical treatment,” he added.
Hamid’s tale is only one of many that are repeated every day within Iran, immune to the entreaties and condemnations of the international community by mullahs who care nothing except the maintaining of their absolute status as masters over the Iranian people.
And where does the Iran lobby stand on all this? Does it issue condemnations? Does it commemorate the suffering of Iranians? Does it demand the release of American hostages such as Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, Christian pastor Saeed Abedini or former U.S. Marine Amir Hekmati?
No. The Iran lobby’s silence is deafening.
As the world observes Human Rights Day, Trita Parsi of the National Iranian American Council, the leading Iran lobby organization, published and editorial in Huffington Post condemning presidential candidate Donald Trump.
That is the Iran lobby’s contribution to observing human rights.
By Michael Tomlinson