By Mahmoud Hakamian
With everyone’s focus on the U.S. sanctions on Iran and President Trump’s maximum pressure campaign, there should also be a focus on one of the most worrying aspects of the Iranian regime’s belligerence – its human rights violations.
The Iranian regime’s human rights record is appalling. It has systematically denied and abused the human rights of the Iranian people and the situation is still critical.
Firstly, it would be impossible to talk about human rights in Iran without mentioning the death penalty that is used as a form of punishment by the regime, even for the most petty of crimes.
Human rights organisations across the world have expressed their concern about the number of executions that are carried out every year. Iran holds the record for the number of minors and juvenile offenders that are executed. Mass executions are also carried out and one of the most horrific incidences of this was in 1988 in what has become known as the 1988 massacre. The Supreme Leader at that time ordered the execution of political prisoners. In all, more than 30,000 Iranians were killed – most of them members or affiliates to the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI / MEK) – the main opposition to the Iranian regime.
Human rights organisations have also called on the regime to stop issuing the death penalty for drug crimes and to stop using corporal punishment.
Political prisoners in Iran have painted a very dire picture of life in Iranian prisons. Detainees are tortured, subjected to inhumane physical and verbal abuse, are denied the right to a lawyer, are denied essential medical treatment and are raped, starved and generally mistreated.
Freedom of speech does not exist in Iran and is one of the most common forms of repression. The regime has placed massive restrictions on the country’s media, allowing it only to publish extremely biased material. All of the main news outlets are either owned by the state or have links with the country’s military and security forces. They are commonly described as the regime’s “mouthpieces”. Any agencies that do not comply with the regime’s ideology and practices are quite simply shut down.
The lack of freedom of speech extends to the people of Iran who are not free to express their personal ideas and opinions, even on social media or on private blogs. The regime routinely charges individuals with “enmity against God”.
Democracy is not something that the people of Iran are able to benefit from either. The Iran regime’s Supreme Leader can overrule any decision and has the ultimate power. He is accountable to no one and can reverse any elections results. Governmental and presidential candidates go through a thorough vetting process and those that the Supreme Leader does not approve of are eliminated from the process.
Not surprisingly, women, ethnic and cultural minorities, and so on, are also discriminated against. They are denied the most basic of human rights on a regular basis and women do not even have the right to dress as they please. Women face arrest for not being properly veiled and they are restricted in many areas of life in Iran, including in the workplace. Ethnic minorities have been arrested and given grossly unfair trials.