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Op-Ed: World ignores Iranian human rights abuses

According to Iranian human rights activist Shabnam Assadollahi, “The international community has long ignored the suffering of the Iranian people at the hands of the fanatical religious rulers, which is a shameful betrayal.”
Executions in Iran Photo Credit: Reuters/Channel 2

While the world is preoccupied dealing with the aftermath of the Paris terror attacks, the Syrian Civil War, and the international crisis that has ensued following Turkey downing a Russian airplane, the international community appears to have forgotten about human rights abuses in the Islamic Republic of Iran.    Many Iranian pro-democracy activists are not happy about this.  According to Iranian human rights activist Shabnam Assadollahi, “The international community has long ignored the suffering of the Iranian people at the hands of the fanatical religious rulers, which is a shameful betrayal.”

Some might argue that in the wake of the conclusion of the Iranian nuclear deal, Iran is old news. However, the human rights situation has not gotten any better in the wake of the Iranian nuclear deal and the deal has not also turned the Islamist regime there into a benign entity, thus making the situation in the Islamic Republic of Iran as relevant as ever. Amnesty International has reported that there will be nearly 2000 hangings by the end of this year – while thousands of more are on death row awaiting execution, including political prisoners.

"Among those executed in Iran are members of ethnic and religious minorities convicted of 'enmity against God' and 'corruption on Earth' – including Kurdish political prisoners and Sunni Muslims," notes Amnesty. "Death sentences in Iran are particularly disturbing because they are invariably imposed by courts that are completely lacking in independence and impartiality," Amnesty has said. "They are imposed either for vaguely worded or overly broad offences, or acts that should not be criminalized at all, let alone attract the death penalty. Trials in Iran are deeply flawed, detainees are often denied access to lawyers in the investigative stage, and there are inadequate procedures for appeal, pardon and commutation."

However, Iranian dissidents on death row are not the only activists to suffer. Even Iranian political prisoners that are permitted to live face a horrendous existence, where they are often exposed to torture, are raped, and abused in other ways. This is in addition to being arbitriarlly arrested and detained for engaging in acts that would not be considered a crime in any other country. In recent days, several dissidents were arrested in front of Evin Prison. Among the arrested are Simin Eyvazzadeh (mother of civil rights activist Omid Alishenas), Hashem Zeinali (Saeed Zeinali's father), Mohsen Shoja, Reza Malek and Mohammad-Ali Taheri. The Boroujerdi Civil Rights Center reported that Hashem Zeinali was brutally beaten in the attack.

Evin prisoner civil rights activist Omid Alischenas tried to join the protest in front of Evin prison but officials responded by banning communication inside the prison; he responded by declaring a hunger strike. Following this incident, there was another mass arrest of Iranian human rights activists. According to the grassroots reports from Tehran, Mohammad Nourizad, Esmail (Zartosht) Ahmadi Ragheb, Davood (Hooshang) Ne'matifar, plus six more activists have been arrested by Iranian security forces.

However, the world does not appear to care much about their plight these days. Nobody is talking about this incident in the West. Only a Palestinian terrorist going on hunger strike would matter enough to make it into the news when the world is preoccupied with the Paris terror attacks, Syria, and the Russian-Turkish international crisis. In the Western world, the names of Palestinian terrorists on hunger strike are household names but nobody knows the names of the Iranian political dissidents imprisoned in Evin and their life stories, even when they hunger strike. Evidently, the life of an Iranian political dissident does not matter as much as that of a Palestinian terrorist in the eyes of many.

Op-Ed: World ignores Iranian human rights abuses
According to Iranian human rights activist Shabnam Assadollahi, “The international community has long ignored the suffering of the Iranian people at the hands of the fanatical religious rulers, which is a shameful betrayal.”
While the world is preoccupied dealing with the aftermath of the Paris terror attacks, the Syrian Civil War, and the international crisis that has ensued following Turkey downing a Russian airplane, the international community appears to have forgotten about human rights abuses in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Many Iranian pro-democracy activists are not happy about this. According to Iranian human rights activist Shabnam Assadollahi, “The international community has long ignored the suffering of the Iranian people at the hands of the fanatical religious rulers, which is a shameful betrayal.”
Some might argue that in the wake of the conclusion of the Iranian nuclear deal, Iran is old news. However, the human rights situation has not gotten any better in the wake of the Iranian nuclear deal and the deal has not also turned the Islamist regime there into a benign entity, thus making the situation in the Islamic Republic of Iran as relevant as ever. Amnesty International has reported that there will be nearly 2000 hangings by the end of this year – while thousands of more are on death row awaiting execution, including political prisoners.

"Among those executed in Iran are members of ethnic and religious minorities convicted of 'enmity against God' and 'corruption on Earth' – including Kurdish political prisoners and Sunni Muslims," notes Amnesty. "Death sentences in Iran are particularly disturbing because they are invariably imposed by courts that are completely lacking in independence and impartiality," Amnesty has said. "They are imposed either for vaguely worded or overly broad offences, or acts that should not be criminalized at all, let alone attract the death penalty. Trials in Iran are deeply flawed, detainees are often denied access to lawyers in the investigative stage, and there are inadequate procedures for appeal, pardon and commutation."


However, Iranian dissidents on death row are not the only activists to suffer. Even Iranian political prisoners that are permitted to live face a horrendous existence, where they are often exposed to torture, are raped, and abused in other ways. This is in addition to being arbitriarlly arrested and detained for engaging in acts that would not be considered a crime in any other country. In recent days, several dissidents were arrested in front of Evin Prison. Among the arrested are Simin Eyvazzadeh (mother of civil rights activist Omid Alishenas), Hashem Zeinali (Saeed Zeinali's father), Mohsen Shoja, Reza Malek and Mohammad-Ali Taheri. The Boroujerdi Civil Rights Center reported that Hashem Zeinali was brutally beaten in the attack.

Evin prisoner civil rights activist Omid Alischenas tried to join the protest in front of Evin prison but officials responded by banning communication inside the prison; he responded by declaring a hunger strike. Following this incident, there was another mass arrest of Iranian human rights activists. According to the grassroots reports from Tehran, Mohammad Nourizad, Esmail (Zartosht) Ahmadi Ragheb, Davood (Hooshang) Ne'matifar, plus six more activists have been arrested by Iranian security forces.

However, the world does not appear to care much about their plight these days. Nobody is talking about this incident in the West. Only a Palestinian terrorist going on hunger strike would matter enough to make it into the news when the world is preoccupied with the Paris terror attacks, Syria, and the Russian-Turkish international crisis. In the Western world, the names of Palestinian terrorists on hunger strike are household names but nobody knows the names of the Iranian political dissidents imprisoned in Evin and their life stories, even when they hunger strike. Evidently, the life of an Iranian political dissident does not matter as much as that of a Palestinian terrorist in the eyes of many.

But it is not just that the international community deliberately ignores the plight of Iranian political prisoners. Even when Kurdish political dissident Nihmat Malla managed to flee to safety in Hungary, the Hungarian officials have announced that they plan to deport him back to Iran. According to the Boroujerdi Civil Rights Center, he is now on hunger strike alongside 51 other asylum seekers within Hungary in order to protest the inhumane behavior by the Hungarian government, the lack of medical treatment, and not being granted access to a lawyer. It should be noted that Malla has dedicated his life to human rights journalism, writing, film making, and radio broadcasting over the past ten years. Even though his life would be in imminent danger if he is forced to go back to Iran, no one in the West is standing up for him and telling Hungary not to deport him. However, Israel has faced all sorts of pressure to release Palestinian terrorists held in administrative detention.

Iranian Canadian political dissident Shabnam Assadollahi is fed up with the international hypocrisy: “Many of us Iranian dissidents have spent our lives advocating for peace, justice and freedom in Iran and hoped to warn the world of the danger of this barbaric medieval regime regardless of their nuclear activities in Iran. The aim of the current Iranian regime was/ is clearly to acquire a nuclear weapons capability and to retain as much territory in Iraq as possible under Shia Islamist rule, whatever the human cost. Those aims are also the reason Iran's regime has intervened in Iraq, Syria and Yemen. Western apologists and appeasers of Iranian theocracy do no favors to the Iranian people. They distance the likelihood of positive change and undercut the hopes of the Iranian people. Of course, to Khamenei, this burlesque just makes Obama and his administration look weaker and weaker; further concessions will only reinforce that perception.”

“Today in Iran, under Hassan Rouhani, the supposed "moderate" Iranian President, political prisoners are still tortured,” Assadollahi stressed. “Bloggers, journalists and teachers remain behind bars. Sexual and religious rights are trampled. Women are treated as second class citizens and girls are forced to marry as young as 13. But sadly, the world has not demanded real improvements in human rights in Iran.”

“Thousands of activists continue to languish behind bars including several Americans citizens such as U.S. Marine veteran Amir Hekmati, Christian Pastor Saeed Abedini, Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian and former FBI agent Robert Levinson; it is noteworthy that the Obama administration has deliberately separated all human rights issues from its nuclear negotiations and it is tragic that their release was not included in the G5 group's discussions,” she emphasized. “All calls by international human rights organizations and non-governmental organizations for negotiations to be dependent the cessation of all nuclear enrichment activity -- and on Iranian assurances to release innocent political, religious and ethnic minority prisoners -- have been ignored by both the G5 + 1 and President Obama.”

In conclusion, Assadollahi noted: “Iran's human rights atrocities are ignored by the Obama administration, in favor of making a deal with the perpetrators, presumably to hand them the nuclear weapons capability they are determined to acquire. The permanent and peaceful solution to this crisis is something that only Iran's democrats -- now being silently murdered in the Iran's prisons -- along with the help of the free world, can change. Together, they can and will bring human rights back as a crucial value. When human rights are denied in one place, they can soon be denied every place.” 

 

 



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