By Hossein Beizayi
Human rights and human dignity are God-given non-negotiable rights for all human beings. In fact, human rights, in its many forms and shapes are the metrics that a country’s judicial system and its other branches of government could be gauged and judged.
Iran’s report card on human rights has gained another failing mark in 2021. The Iranian regime’s dire human rights record has only worsened in 2021, with growing numbers of violations, particularly in the months since Ebrahim Raisi, or the “Butcher of Tehran,” was installed as the newest president of the country.
Ebrahim Raisi, one of the key violators of human rights in Iran
Raisi is known for his role in the massacre of more than 30,000 political prisoners in Iran in the summer of 1988. At the time, Raisi was Tehran’s deputy prosecutor when Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini tasked him with serving on a Death Commission that sent prisoners to the gallows after mock trials that lasted just minutes. Before becoming president, Raisi was Iran’s judiciary chief. Under his reign, the judiciary and security forces launched a brutal crackdown on peaceful protesters in November 2019, killing an estimated 1,500 anti-government demonstrators and dissidents and detaining and torturing thousands more with total impunity. The fatal crackdown of peaceful protests of the people of Khuzestan, the farmers of Isfahan, and the teachers and educators across Iran have all been happening under the presidency of Ebrahim Raisi and by order of his superior, Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader. One has only to imagine the state of human rights in a country that one of the supreme violators of human rights is its sitting president.
UN and Human Rights in Iran
Referring to the growing use of capital punishment and the alarming rate of executions in Iran, Mr. Javed Rehman, the UN special rapporteur on human rights in the country, informed the UN General Assembly that “there are extensive, vague and arbitrary grounds in Iran for imposing the death sentence, which quickly can turn this punishment into a political tool.”
Delivering his fourth annual report on Oct. 25, 2021, Mr. Javed Rehman warned: “In addition, the structural flaws of the justice system are so deep and at odds with the notion of rule of law that one can barely speak of a justice system. The entrenched flaws in the law and in the administration of the death penalty in Iran mean that most, if not all, executions are an arbitrary deprivation of life.”
Mr. Javed Rehman urged the Iranian authorities “to undertake further reforms in order to end the imposition of the death penalty in violation of international law, in line with consistent recommendations made year after year to Iran by international human rights mechanisms.”
In its 76th session, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution condemning the Iranian regime’s human rights abuses. Passed with 78 affirmative votes, this is the 68th UN resolution on the human rights situation in Iran since the mullahs rose to power in 1979.
The resolution expresses serious concern at the “alarmingly high frequency of the imposition and carrying-out of the death penalty,” “widespread and systematic use of arbitrary arrests and detentions,” “deliberately denying prisoners access to adequate medical treatment and supplies,” and “appalling acts committed by prison guards at Evin prison,” “harassment, intimidation, and persecution, including abductions, arrests, and executions, of political opponents, human rights defenders,” and “arbitrary arrest and detention, and torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment against peaceful protesters,” and “the use of torture to extract confessions, and cases of suspicious deaths in custody.”
Violation of Human rights in Iran, broader than one may imagine
It is not only the number of executions and other forms of human rights abuses that are appalling in Iran but also the nature of some of these killings and abuses. Arbitrary arrests, unthinkable forms of tortures, extended solitary confinements, forced confessions and TV interviews, arrest and punishment of family members, void of proper and standard court hearings, etc., are part of a long list of examples of human rights abuses in Iran. On the other hand, executions have involved juveniles, women, and individuals from ethnic and religious minority groups, including Kurds, Arabs, and Sunnis. Although Iran is a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the government has made no effort to alter the country’s penal code, which allows girls as young as nine to be executed.
The word “mercy” is non-existent in the mullah’s vocabulary. As the Iranian people become more dissatisfied with the government and choose to show their discontent by organizing social protests and assemblies, it is anticipated that the human rights abuses in Iran to climb and take new forms and shapes. The world should place the issue of human rights in Iran in its dealings with Iran. I bring this note to an end by a poem from Saadi, a popular Persian poet of the past, that prescribes a remedy for what may be a dignified cure for what humanity is experiencing now.
“Human beings are members of a whole, in creation of one essence and soul.
If one member is afflicted with pain, other members uneasy will remain.
If you have no sympathy for human pain, the name of human you cannot retain.”