By Hossein Beizayi
According to the UN Human Rights Office, the UN Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights will visit Iran from May 7 to 18 to assess the impact of sanctions on human rights. In a world where the Russian invasion of Ukraine has brought about a human and economic disaster, Alena Douhan’s trip to Iran for 11 days raises eyebrows. The role of this Special Rapporteur was created by a 2014 resolution at the UN Human Rights Council introduced by Iran on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement.
Alena Dohan is a Belarusian lawyer. Before her current post, she served as the UN rapporteur on US unilateral sanctions against Venezuela and Saudi Arabia’s sanctions against Qatar.
Her trip was facilitated by a private pro-regime law firm, and after attending an online conference on the effects of US sanctions on Iran, Tehran officials appear to have been encouraged to invite her to Iran.
Iran’s hidden agenda behind the visit
With growing international concerns regarding the appalling violation of human rights in Iran and a pledge for a UN inquiry into the 1988 massacre of 30,000 political prisoners, the regime’s invitation to the Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures is a shameful attempt at circumventing sanctions.
By inviting the UN Special Rapporteur, Iran’s ruling clerics, which have been condemned 68 times by the United Nations for brutal and systematic human rights abuses, seek to undermine international sanctions and dodge blame for their incompetency and shortcomings. It is important to note that the regime has disobeyed and ignored the recommendations mentioned in these 68 resolutions. For the past 26 years, the ayatollahs have banned the entry of the UN Special Rapporteurs on the Situation of Human Rights in Iran.
Why the Islamic Republic has banned the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights from Iran
In all of his reports, Professor Javed Rahman, UN’s Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Iran, has described the situation of human rights in Iran as “worse” than in his previous reports. The Iranian regime has called all these reports “political” and “biased.” All UN Special Rapporteurs on Human Rights in Iran have repeatedly asked the regime to allow them to visit Iran.
In the past, when UN Rapporteurs on Human Rights in Iran were not Muslims, Iran used their faith to accuse them of ignorance of Islamic law and Shiite jurisprudence. However, in the last 11 years, all of Iran’s Special Rapporteurs have been Muslim jurists from the Maldives and Pakistan, specializing in the Islamic rights and Sharia that the Iranian regime claims to observe. In their reports, the rapporteurs have all agreed on violations of international law and even Islamic law in Iran.
By inviting Alena Douhan to Iran, the clerical regime is also trying to cover up the astronomical plundering and widespread corruption by its officials and their squandering of the Iranian people’s wealth and resources on developing nuclear and missile projects and the expansion of its warmongering policies in the region. The mullahs will use the opportunity to hide their human rights abuses under the excuse of “sanctions.”
The Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures is set to submit her conclusions to the 51st Session of the Human Rights Council in September 2022. This sugar-coated report will give the Islamic Republic a propaganda opportunity to attribute a series of inefficiencies, civil rights violations, and severe administrative and financial corruption of its elites and officials to US sanctions through the mouth of a UN official.
Any dictatorship will welcome the tiniest chance for positive publicity and any ounce of approval, especially when the source is the UN. Even ordinary Iranians who are suffering the most from poverty recognize that their source of misery is not the sanctions. During many of their protests for higher wages or when expressing their economic grievances, they chant, “Our enemy is right here, they lie when they say it is the US,” and “One less embezzlement will solve our problems”.
It is the UN’s moral responsibility to listen to the people of Iran and stand on their side. Whatever decision, policy, or statement that benefits the barbaric regime in Tehran is in contrast to the wishes of the Iranian people.