Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Iran Brags About Their Human Rights Record--Here Are The Abuses They Forgot

Iran's Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi has been bragging about Iran's human rights record:
Iran has the most successful record in terms of human rights among Muslim countries in the contemporary world, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said on Monday.

Salehi made the remarks during a speech at the 19th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, which opened in Geneva on February 27 and closes on March 23.

In his speech, Salehi said that Iran has made considerable achievements in the field of human rights, adding that the elections that have been held in the country prove the democratic nature of the Islamic system.
At least he limited himself to only the Middle East--and only among Muslim countries.

Still, Salehi does seem to have a short memory.

Karim Sadjadpour, an associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, over the past 2 years has come up with lists of the various human rights abuses that Iran has been racking up over the years.

Here are a few.

In the Washington Post on September 18, 2011, Sadjadpour addressed a number of questions to Ahmadnejad about Iran's record on human rights. Among the questions:

  • Somayeh Tohidlou, a 32-year-old female sociology PhD student, recently received 50 lashes in prison for having “insulted” you by campaigning for Mousavi in 2009. Do you believe that men lashing women for their political views is an appropriate form of punishment?
  • You said last September that “freedom is a divine right.” Does that apply to Iran’s Bahais, who are persecuted for practicing their faith, discriminated against in the workplace andimprisoned for attempting to educate their youth, who have been barred from university?
  • In March you claimed that Iran is “the best example for asserting human rights in the world.” So why has your government refused to allow the U.N. special rapporteur for human rights in Iran, Ahmed Shaheed, to visit your country and investigate allegations of human rights violations?
  • In a BBC survey of 27 countries, including non-Western nations such as China, Nigeria and the Philippines, Iran ranks as “the most negatively viewed of all countries rated,” even below North Korea, with just a 16 percent favorability rating. Why?
  • Nongovernmental organizations, including Transparency International, Freedom House and the World Bank, have said that Iran’s rates of corruption, economic malaise and repression during your tenure are higher than those of Hosni Mubarak’s Egypt and Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali’s Tunisia. Are you confident you won’t share their fate?During your presidency Iran has had the highest per capita execution rate in the world, including recent public executions and executions of people accused of being homosexual. Are you proud of this record?
  • Ali Vakili Rad, who was convicted by the French in 1991 for the brutal stabbing death of 77-year-old Iranian democracy activist Shapour Bakhtiar in Paris, was given an official hero’s welcome at the Tehran airport upon his release from prison last year. Why does your government glorify assassins?

A year earlier, in 2010, Sadjadpur had again questioned Ahamadinejad about Iran's human rights abuses--this time in the Wall Street Journal, including:

  • According to human-rights organizations including Amnesty International, executions have increased four-fold since you became president in 2005, and Iran now executes more people per capita than any other country in the world. Iran also lifted its moratorium on stoning since you became president. And according to Reporters Without Borders, Iran is now the world's "biggest prison for journalists." Do you take pride in your record?
  • The prominent human-rights activist Mehrangiz Kar has reported that last August five young men in the city of Hamadan had their hands chopped off as a punishment for theft. Do you agree with such a draconian punishment?
  • Two days after the June 12, 2009, presidential election, you declared that Iran is "the most stable country in the world." But the next day nearly three million people, according to the mayor of Tehran, took to the streets to protest the election results. Given your confidence in your popular support, would you grant the opposition a permit to protest, and would you guarantee their safety?
  • According to the International Monetary Fund, Iran has one of the highest rates of brain drain in the world, with as many as 100,000 people leaving annually in search of greater economic dignity and political freedom. Economists estimate that the brain drain has accelerated during your presidency. How much does it bother you that many of Iran's top minds are forced to reside abroad?

Maybe Foreign Minister Salehi  can find some time to respond to these lists.
If so, we can give him a list of the other abuses left out of these two for brevity.

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