FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Stopping Iran’s Human Rights Abuses

by DR. CESAR CHELALA

The election of Hassan Rouhani’s as Iran’s President seemed to signal a dramatic change in policies regarding the previous government of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. However, while portraying an image of moderation overseas, serious human rights abuses continue in Iran, despite protests from human rights groups inside and outside the country.

Rouhani’s government had achieved a diplomatic victory when it obtained a relief of punishing international sanctions in exchange for curbing its disputed nuclear program. The agreement, which was endorsed by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, resulted in immediate economic relief and opened the way for further concessions from Western countries.

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA) reports, last September Iran increased its oil exports by 180,000 barrels per day compared to the previous year, equivalent to a 26 percent increase. At the same time, the Rouhani government is trying to change the system of contracts with foreign companies to allow them to take equity stakes in Iranian oil, gas and other projects. These measures are aimed at luring back foreign companies into Iran.

Not everybody inside the country, however, is cheered by these new developments. On December 10, Major General Mohammad Jafari, commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard forces issued a strong criticism of Rouhani’s policies stating, “The military, systems and procedures governing the administrative system of the country are the same as before, but they have been slightly modified and unfortunately infected by Western doctrine, and a fundamental change must occur.”

Declaring also that the Guard cannot remain silent in face of these changes, Jafari issued a clear threat to Rouhani. What we are witnessing in Iran is a confrontation between relatively moderate forces led by Rouhani and hardliners of whom Jafari is a leading figure. Hardliners are irked by Rouhani’s foreign policy shift and concerned that they are losing ground over Supreme Leader Khamenei, who approved those changes.

As Dr. Majid Rafizadeh, and Iranian-American scholar and president of the International American Council has stated, “The more Iran’s economy gets on track, and the more Western oil companies are lured to invest in Iran, the more the government and the hardliners will move to increase their campaigns to crackdown on ordinary people and oppositional groups.”

In just a few days at the end of October, the judicial authorities banned the reformist daily Bahar, sentenced the famous actress Pegah Ahangarani to 18 months in prison and put to death 18 individuals from ethnic minorities. Among the charges against her is that she publicly supported the opposition candidates in the 2009 presidential election.

In the meantime, close to a thousand prisoners remain behind bars, among them three leaders of the 2009 protests, Mir Hossein Mousavi, Mehdi Karroubi and Zahra Rahnavard. November 10 marked their 1000 days under house arrest. “Nearly all the opposition activists in prison before Rouhani was elected are still in prison,” declared Iranian Nobel Peace laureate Shirin Ebadi,

Human rights activists decry that there is no judicial independence or rule of law in Iran. They are outraged that Rouhani has named Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi as his Justice Minister. According to the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center (IHRDC,) Pour-Mohammadi was involved in mass executions of members of leftist political groups in Iranian prisons, in the extrajudicial assassinations of political opponents abroad and in the unlawful murder of dissidents within Iran’s borders during his tenure as Deputy Intelligence Minister from 1987 until 1999.

Licenses were revoked from lawyers who have represented prisoners of conscience and over 40 lawyers have been detained since 2009. Dr. Ahmed Shaheed, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Iran has documented widespread abuse and torture of political prisoners in Iranian prisons. In addition, members of minority groups have been imprisoned on charges that they are spreading corruption on Earth.

At a time in which Iran is trying to gain international legitimacy as a democratic country under the rule of law, it is imperative that Rouhani puts an end to those human rights abuses. As stated by Hadi Ghaemi, executive director of the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, “President Rouhani has a mandate in the votes of millions of Iranians who propelled him to office to pursue the changes he promised. Now is the time for President Rouhani to show his willingness and determination to defend the rights of the people by condemning such gross human rights violations. His silence is a tacit approval of these violations.”

Dr. Cesar Chelala is an international public health consultant and a co-winner of an Overseas Press Club of America award.

Dr. Cesar Chelala is a co-winner of the 1979 Overseas Press Club of America award for the article “Missing or Disappeared in Argentina: The Desperate Search for Thousands of Abducted Victims.”

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

January 23, 2017
John Wight
Trump’s Inauguration: Hail Caesar!
Mark Schuller
So What am I Doing Here? Reflections on the Inauguration Day Protests
Patrick Cockburn
The Rise of Trump and Isis Have More in Common Than You Might Think
Binoy Kampmark
Ignored Ironies: Women, Protest and Donald Trump
Gregory Barrett
Flag, Cap and Screen: Hollywood’s Propaganda Machine
Gareth Porter
US Intervention in Syria? Not Under Trump
L. Ali Khan
Trump’s Holy War against Islam
Gary Leupp
An Al-Qaeda Attack in Mali:  Just Another Ripple of the Endless, Bogus “War on Terror”
Norman Pollack
America: Banana Republic? Far Worse
Bob Fitrakis - Harvey Wasserman
We Mourn, But We March!
Kim Nicolini
Trump Dump: One Woman March and Personal Shit as Political
William Hawes
We Are on Our Own Now
Martin Billheimer
Last Tango in Moscow
Colin Todhunter
Development and India: Why GM Mustard Really Matters
Mel Gurtov
Trump’s America—and Ours
David Mattson
Fog of Science II: Apples, Oranges and Grizzly Bear Numbers
Clancy Sigal
Who’s Up for This Long War?
Weekend Edition
January 20, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Divide and Rule: Class, Hate, and the 2016 Election
Andrew Levine
When Was America Great?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: This Ain’t a Dream No More, It’s the Real Thing
Yoav Litvin
Making Israel Greater Again: Justice for Palestinians in the Age of Trump
Linda Pentz Gunter
Nuclear Fiddling While the Planet Burns
Ruth Fowler
Standing With Standing Rock: Of Pipelines and Protests
David Green
Why Trump Won: the 50 Percenters Have Spoken
Dave Lindorff
Imagining a Sanders Presidency Beginning on Jan. 20
Pete Dolack
Eight People Own as Much as Half the World
Roger Harris
Too Many People in the World: Names Named
Steve Horn
Under Tillerson, Exxon Maintained Ties with Saudi Arabia, Despite Dismal Human Rights Record
John Berger
The Nature of Mass Demonstrations
Stephen Zielinski
It’s the End of the World as We Know It
David Swanson
Six Things We Should Do Better As Everything Gets Worse
Alci Rengifo
Trump Rex: Ancient Rome’s Shadow Over the Oval Office
Brian Cloughley
What Money Can Buy: the Quiet British-Israeli Scandal
Mel Gurtov
Donald Trump’s Lies And Team Trump’s Headaches
Kent Paterson
Mexico’s Great Winter of Discontent
Norman Solomon
Trump, the Democrats and the Logan Act
David Macaray
Attention, Feminists
Yves Engler
Demanding More From Our Media
James A Haught
Religious Madness in Ulster
Dean Baker
The Economics of the Affordable Care Act
Patrick Bond
Tripping Up Trumpism Through Global Boycott Divestment Sanctions
Robert Fisk
How a Trump Presidency Could Have Been Avoided
Robert Fantina
Trump: What Changes and What Remains the Same
David Rosen
Globalization vs. Empire: Can Trump Contain the Growing Split?
Elliot Sperber
Dystopia
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail