While Iran as a global security threat is a regular news feature, the life of ordinary Iranians rarely gets the profile it deserves. I congratulate the Foreign Policy Centre for offering a fresh perspective on Iran: a unique insight in to the treatment of women, Kurds and Baha’is. This report is an important contribution to the debate, and an important part of ensuring that improving Iran’s human rights record stays firmly on the agenda of think tanks, academics, activists and policymakers worldwide.
Women, Kurds, Baha’is and other minority groups in Iran clearly continue to face significant problems. Women suffer systemic discrimination through civil and penal codes and legal processes deliberately designed to work to their disadvantage. There are some appalling violations of human rights highlighted in the report; cases of women experiencing sexual violence or sentenced to death by stoning. Iranian Baha’is are denied any level of internal community organisation: seven leading members of the Baha’i community remain detained without formal charges since their arrest in May. Baha’is suffer from lack of access to higher education through policies deliberately designed to threaten the future development of the community. The draft penal code currently being considered by the Iranian parliament is deeply concerning: it sets out a mandatory death sentence for the ‘crime’ of apostasy. If adopted, this would violate the right to freedom of religion and could have serious consequences for religious minorities in the country.
Discrimination against Iran’s Kurds and other ethnic minorities is also on the increase. Large numbers of the Kurdish community, including journalists, trade unionists, students and human rights defenders, were detained this summer on charges of endangering national security. Some were sentenced to imprisonment. Last month a group of Azeri rights activists were also arrested.
The situation of women, Baha’is and Kurds reflects some of the wider human rights concerns in Iran. Iran consistently fails to meet the international commitments that it is signed up to, such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a state party. It ignores its own laws and terms of its own constitution such as arbitrary arrest and the denial of due process. And it is increasingly and worryingly – using vague, national security-related charges such as ‘acting against state security’ and ‘propaganda against the system’ against individuals who are exercising their right to peaceful protest. In recent months a number of human rights activists have been handed severe prison sentences, of up to eleven years, on these types of trumped up charges. The cases are dealt with behind closed doors, in Revolutionary Courts. Freedom of expression has been under increasing pressure in past years. Newspapers, websites and other publications are regularly closed down and their editors threatened for crossing red lines, providing critical commentary or including material that might be considered un-Islamic. Paranoid, and often violent, clampdowns on all forms of organised protest have affected teachers demonstrating for a living wage, women’s rights defenders campaigning for an end to discriminatory laws, trade unionists calling for basic labour rights, and students protesting against corruption.
The increasing use of the death penalty is particularly concerning, especially its continued use against juvenile offenders, including seven already confirmed in 2008, and the practice of public and mass executions. Criminal punishments such as amputation and stoning still occur.
The increasing prominence of human rights groups in Iran is a promising development; take for example that Campaign for Equality launched in August 2006 to peacefully mobilise support for women’s rights and to press for change to Iran’s discriminatory laws, including some of those highlighted in this report.
The campaigners and volunteers aim to collect one million signatures on a petition calling for legislative change, in line with Islamic law. The Iranian government’s arrest and imprisonment of some women connected to the Campaign is completely unacceptable, and we must, as an international community, lend whatever support we can to these groups to enable them to continue their vitally important work. The effective participation of women and minorities in all spheres of life is a prerequisite for democracy and good governance, and can make a significant contribution to economic development. Iran is a nation with a proud history, including – as the Foreign Policy Centre points out – the development of the first known human rights charter and the first parliament in the Middle East. Iran must fulfill this historical potential, and accept that it has responsibilities to its people, to the region and to the wider international community. The international community must take responsibility to lobby the Iranian government and support those within Iran who are bravely fighting for their human rights. I hope that this report will be a valuable resource to inform the fulfillment of our collective responsibility.
Please see full document //fpc.org.uk/fsblob/1013.pdf By Geoffrey Cameron and Tahirih Danesh
A revolution without rights?
|Recently by faryarm||Comments||Date|
|THE GARDENER by Mohsen Makhmalbaf (Trailer)|
|Oct 04, 2012|
|IRANIAN TABOO VOA Broadcast on Voice of America Persian Service|
|Jun 25, 2012|
Setareh's Letter نامه ستاره
|Jun 14, 2012|
|نسرین ستوده: زندانی روز||Dec 04|
|Saeed Malekpour: Prisoner of the day||Lawyer says death sentence suspended||Dec 03|
|Majid Tavakoli: Prisoner of the day||Iterview with mother||Dec 02|
|احسان نراقی: جامعه شناس و نویسنده ۱۳۰۵-۱۳۹۱||Dec 02|
|Nasrin Sotoudeh: Prisoner of the day||46 days on hunger strike||Dec 01|
|Nasrin Sotoudeh: Graffiti||In Barcelona||Nov 30|
|گوهر عشقی: مادر ستار بهشتی||Nov 30|
|Abdollah Momeni: Prisoner of the day||Activist denied leave and family visits for 1.5 years||Nov 30|
|محمد کلالی: یکی از حمله کنندگان به سفارت ایران در برلین||Nov 29|
|Habibollah Golparipour: Prisoner of the day||Kurdish Activist on Death Row||Nov 28|