FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Death to No One

Today marks the 30th year since the 444 day Iran Hostage Crisis began in 1979. On this day the media traditionally offers us images of Iranians burning American flags and effigies of Uncle Sam. We are reminded of the great chasm of mistrust and misunderstanding that has marked the last three decades of US-Iranian relations. But, in the past year both Americans and Iranians have asked for something new. Americans have elected a president that promises to pursue diplomacy and Iranians have given birth to a popular democratic movement. So, we should not use this 30th anniversary of the hostage crisis to simply re-live tragedy and tension. Rather, today Americans have an opportunity to honestly reflect on our relationship with Iran and think about how to move forward.

For the past 30 years our government has dealt with Iran through policies of isolation and sanctions.

As we all witnessed amidst post-election unrest, Iranians have created a new dialogue within their country about respect for human rights and the democratic process. Now, those of us concerned with human rights must drastically alter our own dialogue towards Iran. If we herald the bravery of the “Green Movement,” we should ask what effect crippling sanctions would have for Iran’s human rights prospects?

Days before the United Nations General Assembly opened in September 2009, Human Rights Watch, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi and thousands of Iranians standing in solidarity with the Green Movement, called on the United Nations to prioritize human rights in discussions about Iran. The Preamble of the Universal Declaration for Human Rights avows that all Member States have pledged themselves “to achieve, in co-operation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms.”

Yet, in recent discussions regarding Iran, the United Nations Security Council plus Germany focused on the nuclear issue in every instance. In doing, so they have consistently neglected all critical and serious conversations about Iran’s human rights violations.

Furthermore, the negotiating states chose to threaten the very fabric of the domestic resistance with “crippling sanctions.” Economic sanctions that directly affect and isolate a civilian population weaken the ability of people committed to creating a better, more just governance.

Consider, for example, the effects of comprehensive sanctions imposed on Iraq for a period of 13 years. Those who bore the brunt of brutal and lethal punishment caused by economic sanctions were the elderly, the sick, the poor and the children. The economic sanctions directly contributed toward the deaths of hundreds of thousands of children. We should also remember that imposition of comprehensive, multilateral sanctions against Iraq proved to be a rallying cry for support of Saddam Hussein in countries where there was high antagonism against the United States. Saddam Hussein could claim to provide for the Iraqi people while the Americans insisted on starving them.

What effects would greater sanctions have on Iran? The Iranian regime has had years of practice in avoiding sanctions by relying on economic relations with China and Russia. The rising revenue and power of the underground economy has bolstered Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s allies who control it.

Meanwhile, sanctions leveled against Iran are creating hardships among the poorest communities in Iran. In 2007, the Iranian government announced fuel rations for private drivers. Due to Iran’s limited refining capabilities, Iran is not energy independent, despite its vast oil resources. The decision to create rations has led to massive uproar and protest for a people who have already suffered extreme rates of unemployment. Inflation has soared to twenty-five percent. Also, in the last year, Iran has faced a serious drought. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has estimated Iran’s loss of wheat production at thirty-three percent. The USDA also noted that, due to the drought and reduced reservoir levels, Iran’s hydroelectric generation capacity and supply have been severely cut. These conditions will lead to severe agricultural problems and possibly to food shortages.

Furthering morally bankrupt policies that focus on the nuclear issue and greater sanctions against Iran will harm the Green Movement’s capacity to struggle for democracy and human rights.

Iran has become the world’s poster child for the deficit of democracy that plagues many nations. Citizens of all nations understand justice and agree upon its terms with remarkable consistency across borders. “The arc of history is long,” Dr. Martin Luther King wrote, “but it bends towards justice.” For 30 years our policies have failed to stand up for truth or justice.

A flyer from Tehran University marking this anniversary declares “Marg bar hich kas”, “Death to no one”. The Green Movement is turning a page in Iran’s history, creating an opportunity for us to stand up for new policy based on human rights and the will of the people.

Bitta Mostofi is co-founder of Where is My Vote, New York. She is an immigrant and civil rights attorney who can be reached at bittamostofi@gmail.com.

Kathy Kelly, a co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence, contributed to this article.

 

 

More articles by:

KATHY KELLY co-coordinates Voices for Creative Nonviolence and has worked closely with the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers. She is the author of Other Lands Have Dreams published by CounterPunch / AK Press. She can be reached at: Kathy@vcnv.org 

August 15, 2018
Jason Hirthler
Russiagate and the Men with Glass Eyes
Paul Street
Omaorosa’s Book Tour vs. Forty More Murdered Yemeni Children
Charles Pierson
Is Bankruptcy in Your Future?
George Ochenski
The Absolute Futility of ‘Global Dominance’ in the 21st Century
Gary Olson
Are We Governed by Secondary Psychopaths
Fred Guerin
On News, Fake News and Donald Trump
Arshad Khan
A Rip Van Winkle President Sleeps as Proof of Man’s Hand in Climate Change Multiplies and Disasters Strike
P. Sainath
The Unsung Heroism of Hausabai
Georgina Downs
Landmark Glyphosate Cancer Ruling Sets a Precedent for All Those Affected by Crop Poisons
Rev. William Alberts
United We Kneel, Divided We Stand
Chris Gilbert
How to Reactivate Chavismo
Kim C. Domenico
A Coffeehouse Hallucination: The Anti-American Dream Dream
August 14, 2018
Daniel Falcone
On Taking on the Mobilized Capitalist Class in Elections: an Interview With Noam Chomsky
Karl Grossman
Turning Space Into a War Zone
Jonah Raskin
“Fuck Wine Grapes, Fuck Wines”: the Coming Napafication of the World
Manuel García, Jr.
Climate Change Bites Big Business
Alberto Zuppi - Cesar Chelala
Argentina at a Crossroads
Chris Wright
On “Bullshit Jobs”
Rosita A. Sweetman
Dear Jorge: On the Pope’s Visit to Ireland
Binoy Kampmark
Authoritarian Revocations: Australia, Terrorism and Citizenship
Sara Johnson
The Incredible Benefits of Sagebrush and Juniper in the West
Martin Billheimer
White & Red Aunts, Capital Gains and Anarchy
Walter Clemens
Enough Already! Donald J. Trump Resignation Speech
August 13, 2018
Michael Colby
Migrant Injustice: Ben & Jerry’s Farmworker Exploitation
John Davis
California: Waging War on Wildfire
Alex Strauss
Chasing Shadows: Socialism Won’t Go Away Because It is Capitalism’s Antithesis 
Kathy Kelly
U.S. is Complicit in Child Slaughter in Yemen
Fran Shor
The Distemper of White Spite
Chad Hanson
We Know How to Protect Homes From Wildfires. Logging Isn’t the Way to Do It
Faisal Khan
Nawaz Sharif: Has Pakistan’s Houdini Finally Met his End?
Binoy Kampmark
Trump Versus Journalism: the Travails of Fourth Estate
Wim Laven
Honestly Looking at Family Values
Fred Gardner
Exploiting Styron’s Ghost
Dean Baker
Fact-Checking the Fact-Checker on Medicare-for-All
Weekend Edition
August 10, 2018
Friday - Sunday
David Price
Militarizing Space: Starship Troopers, Same As It Ever Was
Andrew Levine
No Attack on Iran, Yet
Melvin Goodman
The CIA’s Double Standard Revisited
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: The Grifter’s Lament
Aidan O'Brien
In Italy, There are 12,000 American Soldiers and 500,000 African Refugees: Connect the Dots 
Robert Fantina
Pity the Democrats and Republicans
Ishmael Reed
Am I More Nordic Than Members of the Alt Right?
Kristine Mattis
Dying of Consumption While Guzzling Snake Oil: a Realist’s Perspective on the Environmental Crisis
James Munson
The Upside of Defeat
Brian Cloughley
Pentagon Spending Funds the Politicians
Pavel Kozhevnikov
Cold War in the Sauna: Notes From a Russian American
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail