It's Time

... for Obama to support a UN rights monitor on Iran


It's Time
by Dokhi Fassihian

Over the past year, the Obama Administration has missed successive opportunities to bring real international pressure on the Iranian government to address the severe human rights crisis gripping the country. Instead, it has focused its political muscle on the singular objective of convincing Iran's leadership to stop nuclear enrichment. The result has been an almost cruel disregard for the plight of the Iranian people and their urgent need for international attention to their human rights situation.

Since joining the UN Human Rights Council in June 2009, the United States has worked to address crises in places as diverse as Haiti, Honduras, Burma, Sudan, Guinea, Kyrgysztan, Somalia, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Yet, since the Green uprising started last summer, not a single resolution has been presented by the United States or European states on the brutal repression taking place in Iran.

By November 2009, five thousand Iranians were in prison, hundreds tortured and raped, and dozens put on show trials and sentenced to death or long prison terms solely for their peaceful demands for free and fair elections. Iran's leading human rights defenders, including Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi, and over a hundred human rights organizations from each corner of the world, called urgently for the UN to increase its attention on the human rights situation in Iran.

These fervent pleas went unheeded as the United States focused solely on securing nuclear concessions through its new engagement policy with Tehran. The idea of including human rights as an additional issue on the P5+1 agenda was also rejected for fear of compromising the negotiations. The lack of a strong international response served as a green light to Iran's leaders that there would be no serious consequences for more brutality against its population.

The Iranian people made two more attempts to show the world that they were ready to fight for their rights -- in December during the Ashoura protests and in February during the anniversary of the Islamic Revolution. They were met with deafening silence abroad and more repression at home. More calls for a UN special session were disregarded despite more deaths, detentions and executions of political prisoners. This time, Iran's imprisoned youth were told they should wait for the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review, a new UN mechanism designed to examine the records of all states on a four-year cycle, but not equipped to deal with human rights emergencies.  

At its review in February, the head of Iran's delegation, Mohammad Larijani, told the Human Rights Council that universal human rights standards such as equality under the law were Western concepts not in line with Iranian values and inconsistent with international law. He also stated that torture did not exist in Iran despite the fact that torture victims were sitting in the UN hall.

Unsurprisingly, Iran rejected 45 critical recommendations based on international law, including: to end discrimination against women; to end juvenile executions; to investigate torture in prison, including rape; to amend its penal code to remove vague "national security" crimes against dissidents; and to ensure the independence of its judiciary. At the same time, Iran lobbied governments to win a seat on the Human Rights Council to promote and protect human rights. In March, another session of the Council came and went with little to show for it. While the United States deserves credit for forcing Iran's withdrawal from the Human Rights Council elections in April, this tactical victory against abusive governments did nothing to afford protection for the Iranian people.  

In June, another effort to secure a UN mandate on Iran to investigate abuses was rebuffed. This time, the United States worked with the government of Norway to deliver a statement on the anniversary of the elections crackdown. Withstanding intense pressure from the human rights community, the Obama administration decided not to pursue stronger international action that would jeopardize its campaign to build support for another round of UN sanctions. Yet most observers, including Iran's embattled opposition, believe the policy of broad sanctions to punish Iran solely for its nuclear program -- without any mention of abuses against its citizens -- is, in fact, helping the Ahmadinejad government win support at home, not hurting it.

We know the pattern. Strong, consistent international pressure on the Iranian government to improve its record on human rights works. From 1984 to 2002, the UN Commission on Human Rights mandated a special representative on human rights for Iran. Toward the end of that period, the country saw modest and gradual improvement, particularly under the reformist presidency of Mohammad Khatami. Ever since that mandate was discontinued by a slim margin in 2002, conditions have dramatically deteriorated.

Today, over five hundred political prisoners languish in Iranian prisons, including three American hikers held unjustly for over a year. Iran executes more people per capita than any country in the world -- a number which has increased four-fold under Ahmadinejad. Iran leads the world in jailing journalists, and leads Saudi Arabia by a wide margin as one of two countries left in the world that still executes juvenile offenders. Persecution of religious minorities and women's rights activists have worsened so significantly that punishments include virtual life imprisonment and possible death sentences, and inhumane punishments such as stoning, flogging, and amputation continue to be sanctioned by the state.

What is lacking today is the moral resolve to elevate the rights of Iranian citizens as a matter of international priority. But this is not just a moral issue; it is a legal issue. Iran has legal obligations to uphold the rights of its citizens, and states have an international obligation to address their conditions appropriately. The Obama administration's single-minded focus on the nuclear issue has come at a very high cost for Iranians who risked their lives to attain their democratic rights. Iran's theocracy, seemingly the only beneficiary, has gotten a free ticket to punish them viciously.

On June 20, 2009, the day Neda Agha Soltan was gunned down on a Tehran street, President Obama quoted Martin Luther King when he said "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice." The first step to attaining justice is to build recognition of injustice. The Iranian people need the UN's help -- as did the citizens of Chile, South Africa, and Hungary -- to attain justice. At the UN General Assembly meeting this fall, the United States has another opportunity to help them by ensuring the establishment of a UN mandate that will investigate abuses and encourage accountability for those perpetrating crimes in Iran. We should not miss it again.

First published in

Dokhi Fassihian is the executive director of the Democracy Coalition Project.


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more from Dokhi Fassihian

Opposition to Mullahs And Their Oil Income

by AlexInFlorida on

100% cutting off Regimes supply to money and ability to run.

Then Orgaizing a small but limited war only on Basiji's/Pasdaran, while supporting forces that were loyal to the previous Regime and are still prepared to fight and die for it.  US Support in the Air.  Iranian Army on the ground.  Queen Farah from abroad to unite people to pass the throne to her son. 

The real Patriots and Nationalists of Iran, that want Freedom first and then gradual democracy based on evolution not force.  So One Party, Then 2 Parties based on the opposition to the first and then a third party with an alternative vision. 

But we have to stand together at a starting point and say one nation, one shah, one government, one party, freedom of religion, speech, expression, personal choice and action with harm to none. Vision of gradual reform.


Moosir - Thank you

by Simorgh5555 on

Thank you for your comments and your article. I have not read them yet but I will soon. Hopefully, I'll discuss them later with you.


I posted this in the "news" section

by Onlyiran on

and was called...what Israeli agent....(yawn)... for doing so by "IRI" funny...and ironic 



There are no good options


There are no good options here Fred. Only picking bad vs worst. And numbers are on my side. More people will suffer for a longer time because of the policies you advocate than my proposals.

An economically independent strong middle-class is a must for any regime to be susceptible to pressure by its own people. right now all you are advocating is going to destroy the very middle-class who wants to fight the regime. when they have no food and basic necessities of life, how on earth are they going to stand up and fight? 

As realists say, we do business but our ultimate goal is regime change. Your method is entirely deluded and based on some fantasy that the regime and its supporters will somehow give up, pack their bags and go to syria, russia or wherever. its entirely unrealistic. You look to South Africa for sanctions regime gone right, but you ignore more comparable countries like Iraq and North Korea, or Cuba that have had devastading effects for DECADES without much change in the direction of their respective regime. and in the end,  we went and devastated Iraq with our military force.


today Cuban exiles are exactly like some of our own hamvatans. They sit comfortably in the west, and yet after decades of failed policies and misery for the cubans inside cuba, they still have the gal to lobby the congress to keep those sanctions in place and go for regime change! 


Economic isolation of Iran simply put, does not WORK! you are going to bleed the society slowly to death.  in my previous post i said what i was for, now im saying this is what im against.



by Fred on

Having cozy relationship with official(s) of the Islamist Rapists Republic & arranging meetings for U.S. Congress people to meet with IRR official(s), getting positive feedback on IRR friendly articles from IRR official is not "legitimizing".

Trying to prolong the indesputable suffering of the Iranian people by advocating business with IRR which owns the economy to keep it afloat is not "legitimizing".

It is just lobbying which is technically different than “legitimizing”.


Simorgh, here is what i believe in


a compilation of some posts i made earlier on


the best way to destabilize a
ponderous, oppressive government such as Iran's is to ensure the growth
of a strong middle class in the target country with an educated and
politically active youth. Sanctions tend to do the opposite by denying
(or reducing) a country's access to trade, economic growth,
pharmaceuticals and health benefits, knowledge and innovation. It
stigmatizes countries' populations against the world, which often
entrenches hard-line governments with staunch supporters. Sanctions
also reduce positive effect of the global community's political
feedback: if a country is already a pariah, their leaders have little
incentive to conform to accepted norms (e.g. human rights).


In our quest to punish the regime for its behavior we are
economically isolating Iran and Iranians from the liberal democracies
that are the western world. In the long term this could destroy the very
middle-class that made the June uprising of '09 possible. It could help
to cement the tyrannical regime's reign over the Iranian people,
prolonging its shelf life. And naturally IRI is forced to deal with
non-western powers, moving Iran further towards questionable regional
actors like Russia and China.


"Criminalizing Consequences of
Sanctions," Peter Andreas,
Studies Quarterly
49 (June
2005): pp. 335-60.


One of the biggest flaws of the sanctions literature has been the
failure to discuss unintended consequences. Humanitarian costs have been
raised above, but what about other side effects? Peter Andreas looks at
the consequences of the multilateral sanctions directed at the former
Yugoslavia during the 1990s and finds a disturbing legacy. Economic
sanctions, it turns out, can unintentionally contribute to the
criminalization of the state, economy, and civil society of both the
targeted country and its immediate neighbors. By trying to evade the
sanctions, private entrepreneurs and public officials are encouraged to
disregard the rule of law. This fosters an unhealthy symbiosis among
political leaders, organized crime, and transnational smuggling
networks. These criminal networks can persist even after sanctions are
lifted, contributing to public corruption and undermining governance.


"Are Smart Sanctions Feasible?" By
Arne Tostenson and Beate Bull.
World Politics 54
(April 2002): pp. 373-403.


The comprehensive United Nations sanctions on Iraq during the 1990s
were a humanitarian disaster, leading policymakers to recognize that for
any future sanctions regimen to be politically sustainable its human
costs would have to be limited. Thus was born the concept of "smart
sanctions" -- tailored measures, such as asset freezes, travel bans, and
arms embargoes, that would supposedly target an offending regime while
minimizing collateral damage to the country's population at large. The
question now is whether smart sanctions can achieve significant results
with fewer downsides than more conventional forms of economic coercion.
Arne Tostenson and Beate Bull review the evidence and conclude that the
answer is no: "Although smart sanctions may seem logically compelling
and politically attractive, such regimes are difficult to establish and
enforce because of numerous inherent operational problems and the
intricacies of the Security Council's political processes."




Today, Iran is facing grave danger because of the Islamist regimes
adventurous and dangerous foreign policies. We cant change IRI while
they are holding 70 million people hostage, but we can influence the way
US is dealing with the regime. If they dont talk, make no mistake, the
only other path is confrontation and full fledged war. Now NIAC is
argueing for engagement precisely because the alternatives are not in
Iranians/Americans interests. The engagement policy is not about
legitimising the brutal regime but avoiding something that is going to
make the livelihoods of Iranians even worse than already is. 

Hyping up a threat that does not exist is detrimental to the interests of any democracy movement in Iran. 

People like you and me need to publicly advocate moderation while doing
our own thing to bolster the democratic movement in Iran.

We need to call up our representatives, organise and make our voices
heard. Only then will be able to give the moderate voices in washington
the political capital needed to stand up to the hawks. 




With the recent increasing trend of IRI incompetency, they will run the
country into the ground themselves soon and more people in Iran will
depart from the IRI ways and we will see even more cracks in the

We have a pro-democracy movement of Iranians, and I'm not talking about
the ones living comfortable lives outside,  that can work their way in
through the cracks and lead for truly effective and lasting change.

No need to have foreigners do it for us and let IRI mask the truth. No
need to have foreigners engineer democracy like they did with Iraq. 


Those of us living outside need to stop with our selfish desires to have
a "quick" fix for Iran. This isnt something you can fix overnight.



Certain things that can be done to help Iranians inside:(I'll borrow Amir's post and add some of my own)

1) Sanctions on sales of anti-riot gear and electronic surveillance equipment. freezing assets of persons connected to the regime. (not entire banks)

2) Funds to help striking workers

3) Crimes against humanity charges filed in international courts against regime actors responsible for such crimes

4) Anti-filter software and other such technology to allow people to use
the Internet and cell phones without being blocked or tracked down by

5) Increased civilized demonstrations against IRI organs and broadcasts from
Iranians living abroad--that will show Iranians that they have the moral
support of their compatriots living outside the country as well as
others, and that they are not alone. 

6) Increased assistance from human rights, civil society, and NGOs to
similar organizations and individuals inside the country to augment and
expand their civil disobedience and resistance against the regime


If there was to be any help from outside forces it needs to originate
from the civil society, non-governmental entities with geniune interest
in helping and forming relations with Iranians. bolster the independent trade unionists and help with forming
aliances with those in western countries. 

All this of course is where we the Iranian diaspora come into play. We need to recruite people - not governments - to our cause.


As I said before, it takes a while but it can be done if we stop the war talk first and foremost, drop economic sanctions and specifically target regime's people instead of entire organs. As difficult as it is we have no choice but for regime to prosper along side normal Iranians for a while. but make no mistake, once the middle-class is strong and independent, its when the tough fight begins. 



Moosir - just what do YOU believe in?

by Simorgh5555 on

I am trying hard to understand your thought process here. You are opposed to sanctions. You are opposed to any form of military action. You are not even in favour of changing the regime because you belive things can worse. I put it to you again, what are your 'solutions' which would aussage the suffering of millions of Iranians. 

I am relatively new to IC forum and therefore I have not had the pleasure of being familiar with your 'solutions'. If you could grace me with an article or link to your comments which could enlighten I would be most grateful. Until then muy impression is that  you have an axe to grind against anyone who proposes realistic but hard hitting solutions and Iranians should simply resign to their fate. 

I don't want this to sound like a personal attack but your attidue is like the Heradi Orthodox Jews who denounce Israel (even though they live there)and believe only the Messiah can return them to the Promised Land even if it takes until the end of time. Meanwhile, they sit and pray incessantly until a miracle comes.



Excellent article

by Simorgh5555 on

All US administratiosn past and present have shown a blatant disregard for human rights. Even the targeting of the nuclear facility positions in Iran will not guarantee human rights or enhance the security of the world. Even without the nuclear facilites the Islamic terrorist regime will fight through its proxies Hezbollah and Hamas and engage in the guerilla style warfare and bombing which is its stock in trade. The only way to deal with the mullahs is to kill its rulers through either precision bombing or arming an Iranian liberation army.




"Americans" do not care...

by Sirius on

"Americans" do not care... about the fate of the Iranian people, same as they do not care at all about the much worse human rights situation of the normal people of their ALLIES Saudi Arabia or Egypt.

When "operations" in Iraq were raging and thousands of civilians were murdered daily, in their racist TV was most important if they disconnected or not the vegetal Terri Schiavo.


Only Iranians could really care for Iranians. If the Iranians, even when this is not know in the USA, still have elections, what they have to do is to continue to improve their own political system, and do not expect that a foreign power will exert preasure for the benefit of the Iranian people.

The USA is only interested in oil and the well being of Israel, no matter what they say, or what some Iranians want to believe.

By the way... sometimes there are glimpses through all the fog of lies about Iran, that many people of the so called "West" do not swallow all the garbage that is said about Iran and its leaders.


Greetings from Mexico.

Hoshang Targol

پس حقوق بشر کجاست؟ کجاست؟

Hoshang Targol

Another ground breaking philosophical, immanent, critique, by the renowned Iranian philosopher Prof. Hadi Khorsandi ( only because its in poetic format, the substance of the message shall not be overlooked!) 

با پوزش از هموطنان عزیزم و همزبانان سعدی و عبید و ایرج میرزا... (اگر لازم است!)

پس حقوق بشر کجاست؟ کجاست؟
نکند لای پای اوباماست

يا مگر غفلتاً شبی، روزی
رفته راحت به کون سارکوزی

نکند هيلاری ترش کرده
توی ماتحت شوهرش کرده

يا مگر کرده آنجلا مرکل
توی خيک وزير صاحبدل

يا که پوتين نموده صاف آن را
مدودف نيز کرده شاف آن را ....

(- "هاديا عفت کلام چه شد؟
ادب و شأن و احترام چه شد؟

شاعر اين بار در غضب شده است
ادبيات بی‌ادب شده است!")

- گور بابای عفت و عصمت
ديگرم نيست فکر اين قسمت

در خيابان که خون شده دلمه
گور بابای عفت کلمه

گرچه گوئی که غافل از ادبم
باز از خشم خويشتن عقبم!

من در اين روزگار خونالود
با ادب‌تر ازين نخواهم بود!


تازه آن برلس ِ فلان، مانده
گوردون ِ گنده‌بک، براون، مانده

رهبر چين و رهبر ژاپن
آن دو ديوث ِ پشت دولا کن

از حقوق‌بشر چه ميدانند
فقط اخبار نفت ميخوانند

ولی البته بود اگر صرفش
کس نميبود غافل از حرفش

از اوباما بگير تا پوتين
از پوتين تا هو-جين-تاو در چين

از پکن هم بگير تا توکيو
خدمت حضرت تارو-آسو

آنطرف تا هلند کاسبکار
"پاچه‌خواران" دولت و دربار

ناگهان صحبت حقوق بشر
مينمودند جمله، سرتاسر

همه بر سر زنان و ناله کنان
همه ماتم گرفته، تعزيه‌خوان

که حقوق بشر چرا کم شد؟
آخ که دنيای ما پر از غم شد!

آخ که بنده نخفتم اوری نايت
فکر ايرانم و هيومن رايت!

ولی امروز اين حقوق بشر
رفته با سر به جای نابدتر!


های ای رهبران غربی کور!
لال‌های کثيف خاور دور !

های ای جاکشان ِ ليدی و جنت!
که رئيسيد يا پرزيدنت!

هيچ باتوم خورده بر سرتان؟
روی اسفالت مرده دخترتان؟

هيچ فرزندتان اسير شده؟
خرد و درمانده و خمير شده؟

های ای رهبران ريز و درشت
هيچکس از شما عزيزی کشت؟

نوجوان شما به کهريزک
نشده مثل مال ما بی‌شک ...

از خفقانتان بود معلوم
که خبر گشته‌ايد از باتوم

غم ما را اگرچه می‌بينيد
جز گل از باغ ما نمی‌چينيد

تا بود باغ ما پر از گل ِ نفت
غمتان نيست که چه بر ما رفت

نفت ما خون خالص و ناب است
خون صدها ندا و سهراب است

خون قربانيان استبداد
توی ايران و حومه‌ی بغداد

پس بنوشيد بهر پرخونی
از اوباما الی برلس-کونی!

تف به روی شما يکايک‌تان
چهره‌های حقير مضحکتان

تف به روی شما همه با هم
بجز اين از شما نميخواهم!


ما که مسئول مشکل خويشيم
هريک از جمله‌ی شما بيشيم

بی‌نياز از همه شما هستيم
ملتی فحل و خودکفا هستيم

چوب اگر لای چرخمان ننهيد
به حکومتگران کمک ندهيد

برحذر از شما و خوشحاليم
که جوان ملتی کهنساليم

ما جوانان پرتوان داريم
فکر و برنامه‌ی جوان داريم

مادرانی که توی ميدانند
زن آزادفکر ايرانند

مردها پرتلاش و با ايمان
مثل ستارخان و باقرخان

مردمانند اهل انديشه
با صفا، با غرور، با ريشه

همه کوشنده‌ی ره وطنند
نه که مهمل‌نويس مثل منند!

من هم آماده‌ام پی پوزش
که همه نرو-هايم آمد کش

پشت پی.سی. نشسته نيمه‌ی شب
رفت کيبورد راه ضد ادب!

ای شما رهبران اين دنيا
معذرت خواهم از حضور شما

از اوباما و مرکل و پوتين
رهبران عزيز ژاپن و چين

سرکوزی و براون و آن ديگر
همگی از دم و الی آخر

از حضور شمام شرمنده
که شدم ناگه از زمين کنده!

قصد من هم نبود بی‌ادبی
ولی از دستتان شدم عصبی

که تماشاگر قضايائيد
شاهد قتل بچه‌ی مائيد

ولی اصلاً نميگزد ککتان
تف به قبر بابای تک‌ تکتان!

من که از کوره باز در رفتم
ای "برادر" برس که سر رفتم ...!


 Conclusion of the day: The only way to liberty and equality, shall come through a protracted struggle against IR, by the Iranina people, any other mode, be it relying on international community to support human rights in Iran, sanctions, militarty intervention,.. are all pies in the sky. 



Yes thank you


Now if you could turn a blind eye toward those "airtight" sanctions Fred loves so much for Iranians and possibly the military strikes to top it off, that would be so great.

You are so full of contradictions Fred. On the one hand you superficially champion human rights, on the other you advocate the same thing that causes human rights catastrophe. Such a national treasure you are. 


Thank you NIAC lobby

by Fred on


Thank you Ms. Fassihian, it is so good to see a NIAC lobbyist caring for Iranian people’s lack of human rights. Before the Rafsanjani clan lost the power struggle, NIAC lobby was not into human rights violation of the Islamist Rapist Republic, now it is.  

Lets hope NIAC lobby’s conjoined twin, the CASMII lobby follows NIAC and starts careing for human rights of Iranian people first and foremost.