Op-Ed: Stop Hailing Brutal Dictators

The time has come for the Trump administration to treat other dictatorships in the same manner that they relate to the Iranian regime. 
Supreme Leader of Iran Ali Khamenei Wikimedia Commons

In our day and age, brutal dictatorships appear to be on the ascent and the tentacles of tyrannical regimes can be felt across the globe.  Among such tyrannical governments, it is common knowledge that the Iranian regime is horrible for their own people, for Israel, for the US and for various countries across the Middle East region.  Based upon this conviction, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is now taking a strong stance against the Iranian regime.

Pompeo understands that the only way that we can bring such brutal repression to an end is by opening up our mouths and standing in solidarity with those who are oppressed by regressive regimes that routinely abuse human rights.   Around fifty years ago, the New York Times distributed an essay by Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov, who wrote, “Freedom of thought is the only guarantee against an infection of mankind by mass myths, which in the hands of treacherous hypocrites and demagogues, can be transformed into bloody dictatorships.”  Empowered with such words of wisdom, numerous Soviet dissidents fought for their rights.   With that same line of thinking, Pompeo now wants to empower the Iranian people to fight for their right to think what they please and to topple the regime that is oppressing them.  

As we speak, Human Rights Watch reported that Iranian state television got several women to apologize for posting videos of themselves dancing on Instagram while simultaneously, Shaparak Sharajizadeh, who protested against Iran’s hijab laws, announced that she will spend 2 years in prison for this act in addition to receiving an 18 year suspended sentence.  The Alliance for the Rights of Minorities in Iran (ARAM) reported that Alizadeh Tatabaei, an Iranian mystic and practitioner of alternative medicine, spent 5 years in prison for “spreading corruption on earth.”  His death sentence was revoked only due to international pressure but the legal battle against him continues.  ARAM also noted that Sogol Zabihi Sistan, a Bahai student at Rassam University, was expelled merely because she was practicing the wrong religion and no other reason.

However, the Iranian people themselves are not the only ones who are being brutally repressed by the Iranian regime.  One of the greatest victims of the Iranian regime is the Kurds.  Crushed between Abadi in Baghdad, Assad in Syria and the Iranian regime, the Kurdish peoples’ hopes and aspirations for a better future is being repressed around them.  As Seth Frantzman noted in the Jerusalem Post, on all fronts, Kurdish political groups have lost influence and power.  Nevertheless, as the killing of 11 Iranian Revolutionary Guards in Marivan highlights, the Kurds have not given up the fight against the mullah’s.

The Kurds got no reason not to fight against the mullah’s.  According to Iran News Update, in Iranian Kurdistan, the Iranian regime has banned Kurdish dress and language in public.  Kurdish dissident Kajal Mohammadi noted that Kurdish is not being taught systematically in schools and that there are few to no publications in the Kurdish language on TV, radio, press and in other public spheres.  In addition, she noted that the Iranian regime has oppressed Kurdish ethnic musical expression, “disrupting and forcefully cancelling performances including some licensed by the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance.”  According to Amnesty International, any minority group that protests against this repression faces arbitrary arrest, torture, imprisonment and in some cases, even the death penalty.

The threat posed by the Iranian regime is global.  From Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen, the tentacles of the Iranian regime and its malicious influence can be intensely felt.  This Shia Crescent poses a strategic threat to the State of Israel especially when one considers how the Iranian regime is utilizing the Palestinian front in order to further widen their sphere of influence. Iranian investigative journalist Neda Amin on behalf of the Center for Near East Policy Research and Israel Resource News Agency discovered that Iran stands behind funding a Hamas summer camp for children in Gaza, which teaches them, “How shall we kill an Israeli?”  Some of the children attending the summer camp are of elementary school age.  With Iranian funds and training at their disposal, Palestinian terror groups are being empowered to further threaten the State of Israel.

Given the threats that the Iranian regime poses to the free world, one must commend the Trump administration for taking such a strong stance against the mullah’s.  At the same time, it is important to remind the Trump administration that the mullah’s do not have a monopoly on tyranny.  The North Korean dictatorship is also horrific both to its own people and to the rest of the world.  Yet, Mr. Trump claimed that North Koreans support Kim Jong-Un with “great fervor,” an assertion that dissident Nathan Sharansky proclaimed in the New York Times “undermined America’s moral standing, sabotaged North Korean dissidents and legitimized an evil dictator.”

Furthermore, Mr. Trump has lauded the Sheikh Hasina government for housing the Rohingya while systematically being silent over how the Bangladeshi government has oppressed both the Rohingya Hindus and local Bangladeshi Hindus and Christians.  Just recently, Shipan Kumer Basu, the President of the World Hindu Struggle Committee, reported that a statue of the Virgin Mary was vandalized in the country: “Countless Hindu girls are being raped.   A Hindu widow and her daughter recently were raped in Bangladesh. No one wants to open up their mouths due to the influence that the rapists have over the local Awami League leaders.  Such kinds of rapes are happening all the time but the world is silent.”   The time has come for world leaders to stop hailing brutal dictators and to start standing up for the oppressed of this earth. 

Rachel Avraham is a senior media research analyst at the Center for Near East Policy Research and a correspondent at the Israel Resource News Agency.  She is the author of “Women and Jihad: Debating Palestinian Female Suicide Bombings in the American, Israeli and Arab Media.”

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