Iran Focus: Last week the U.N. Special Rapporteur for human rights in Iran told us what we all know too well, despite promises of moderation by President Hassan Rouhani, there has been a 'sharp rise' in the number of executions in Iran which is now the world's leading state executioner per capita.
Last week the U.N. Special Rapporteur for human rights in Iran told us what we all know too well, despite promises of moderation by President Hassan Rouhani, there has been a 'sharp rise' in the number of executions in Iran which is now the world's leading state executioner per capita.
Ahmed Shaheed told the U.N. Human Rights Council that Iran hanged 687 people last year, an increase of 165 on the previous year.
"I am still at a loss to understand how a reformist president should be in office and see such a sharp rise in executions. The government hasn't given an explanation, which I would like to hear," Shaheed said, adding: "Iran is still overlaid by very draconian, as it were, sorts of practices in the judiciary, the intelligence officials (and) the Revolutionary Guard in a system that is actually working to suppress the rights of people."
His testimony should call into question trips to Iran by EU officials, British and French Parliamentarians and others who are seeking to find investment opportunities in the theocratic state. Such trips only lend legitimacy to the regime and its appalling human rights abuses and should be a cause for concern for voters in countries where human rights is highly valued.
Speaking to a UN audience in Geneva last week, Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, who heads the main democratic opposition coalition National Council of Resistance of Iran, blasted the international community's inaction over the 'catastrophic condition of repression' in Iran and the soaring rate of executions and medieval punishments under Rouhani.
She said it was a mistake to think that keeping silent and passive on Iran's human rights situation could facilitate a deal on the nuclear issue, and she appealed to the US, EU, and UN to refer Iran's human rights dossier to the UN Security Council for sanctions.
International media organisations reported earlier this month that Iran's high court had sentenced a man to have his eyes gouged out and his right ear and nose cut off. And four UN Special Rapporteurs last week highlighted the case of Ms. Farzaneh Moradi, who was reportedly forced into marriage at the age of 15 and was hanged on 4 March in Isfahan Prison after being unfairly tried for murdering her husband, a crime she denied committing.
The public hanging of a young man in the city of Karaj on 26 February has trigged widespread anger among ordinary Iranians. Public footage showed the regime's henchmen beating the handcuffed prisoner who was yelling to see his mother one last time moments before he was hanged. Officials denied him his last request.
Even U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has acknowledged the falsity of reforms under Rouhani. "The new administration has not made any significant improvement in the promotion and protection of freedom of expression and opinion, despite pledges made by the president during his campaign and after his swearing in," Ban said.
Under these circumstances any trip to Tehran by politicians or business leaders under the pretext of the easing of UN nuclear-related sanctions will only serve the mullahs' interest and give them a green light to further step up torture and executions.
World leaders should call for a halt to these visits and link any deal with Iran to its human rights record.