A man is lashed in Iran (Photo: © Reuters)
The Islamic Republic is a state sponsor of terrorism—that’s why Canada shut down the Iranian embassy in Ottawa in September 2012 . However, attention must be drawn to some of the more particularly inhuman and nefarious activities of the Iranian regime.
The Islamic Republic started with an officially-approved massacre of all sorts of dissidents. Along with the functionaries of the former monarchy, thousands of revolutionaries whose views differed from that of the Islamic Republic, were either hanged or shot dead after sham trials -- or even without them.
Later, the Islamic constitution that was established in Iran effectively brought a fundamentalist Islamist regime to power which systematically suppressed all other voices and sociopolitical constituencies like liberals, socialists, women, and religious and ethnic minorities. This has led to a vicious process of violation of human rights in Iran since the establishment of the Islamic regime; a process that still vigorously continues, even after the presumably “moderate” President Hassan Rouhani took office.
In truth, the violation of human rights in Iran has skyrocketed since Rouhani became president in 2013. Over 2,000 Iranians have been hanged under this “moderate” president’s watch, the largest number of executions in Iran in the past 25 years. Indeed, the execution spree in the first half of 2015 was not overlooked by Amnesty International, which noted that “death sentences in Iran are particularly disturbing because they are invariably imposed by courts that are completely lacking in independence and impartiality.”
Amnesty International also added: “[Death sentences] 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.”
As a result, Iran has become the top country committing executions per capita, under Rouhani’s watch.
One of the “legal” pretexts of the Islamic regime for executing dissidents is the common charge of muharebeh or “enmity towards God, which is routinely used against all sorts of human rights activists and dissidents and which invariably receives the death penalty, sometimes administered in public by mass hangings on cranes – although even stoning is not ruled out legally.
Many of those hanged take up to 20 minutes to die slowly and painfully from strangulation. The victims’ bodies are typically left hanging for some time before being removed as a way of intimidating the public into silence.
Many of those who are executed come from minority communities such as the Ahwazi Arab-Iranians – who are predominately Shia – as well as Kurdish and Baluchi Sunnis. The targeting of minorities has not changed since Rouhani’s assuming office. Over the past decade, many Ahwazi Arab political prisoners, ranging from poets and teachers to bloggers and human rights activists, have been executed on trumped-up charges in kangaroo courts.
Rather than finding reasonable evidence for the committing of a crime, judges rely on “confessions” which have been extracted from the accused through physical and psychological torture. Meanwhile, friends and relatives of the accused are kept in the dark, often not informed of where their loved ones have been imprisoned, executed or even buried. Again, nothing has improved under Rouhani.
Never mind that Iran is one of the few countries that continue to execute juvenile offenders, where according to the UN at least 160 are languishing on death row for crimes committed under the age of 18. The number of child offenders executed in 2014-15 – under Rouhani’s watch – is higher than at any time during the past five years. According to an Amnesty International report released a few days ago, Iran’s authorities have sought to “whitewash their continuing violations of children’s rights and deflect criticism of their appalling record as one of the world’s last executioners of juvenile offenders.”
Such kinds of reports, however, have failed to prevent Rouhani from receiving a warm welcome on his European tour, as top politicians, as well as the pope, were eager to meet him. Surprisingly, these days, even the prominent opposition voices in the West, who often complain about their own governments’ disregard of human rights, don’t see a necessity to voice any substantial criticism against the abuses of human rights by the regime of Iran.
The reason why is because much of the world wants do business with the Iranian regime, and they don’t want any fuss over rather “trivial things” such as the violation of human rights by that regime. Indeed, it seems that the rush to conclude a nuclear deal with Iran has twisted and bound all tongues in the West.
How can we possibly improve the condition of human rights in Iran by holding the Iranian regime accountable when, at the same time, the Liberal government of Canada -- as well as other governments around the world -- implicitly legitimizes that regime’s violation of human rights by reestablishing diplomatic relations with it?
Shabnam Assadollahi is a multi-award-wining Canadian human rights activist and freelance writer/journalist of Iranian origin who was locked up at age 16 for 18 months in Iran's most notorious prison, Evin. She has a Master’s degree in Social Anthropology. Assadollahi has worked extensively helping newcomers and refugees resettle in Canada. Assadollahi’s primary focus is on the Iranian community and world events effecting women and minority communities.