Iran’s abuse of its own people a humanitarian catastrophe
by Charles Dunne
The report sent last week to the United Nations General Assembly by the UN’s Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Iran, Ahmed Shaheed, reads like a horror story appropriate for the Halloween season: mock executions, beatings, stonings, rape and threats to rape detainees’ families, among other tortures and abuses, are among the acts attributed to Iran’s government. The report will be followed in December with a Canada-led resolution condemning these abuses.
Canadians should be proud of the government’s long-standing leadership in keeping this critical issue on the global agenda. It’s a real contrast with the discussion of Iran in last Thursday’s U.S. Vice Presidential debate: it wasn’t mentioned.
Iran’s abuse of its own people amounts to a humanitarian catastrophe. It has only intensified in the three years since the suppression of the reformist Green Movement, and has set Iran on a path to becoming the most closed and repressive country in the Middle East — the North Korea of the region. The West’s treatment of the issue as an afterthought — even an annoyance, as all eyes focus on the nuclear issue — is nothing less than a failure of leadership.
The massive increase in human rights violations began in 2009, but hasn’t ended there. What started with the decapitation of the Green Movement through intimidation, beating, and imprisonment of activists and leadership alike has since extended to other vital elements of Iranian civil society, including professors, lawyers, artists and journalists. Indeed, the Committee to Protect Journalists has said Iran has the highest number of imprisoned reporters in the world — 42 — with even more on their way to jail as press restrictions mount.
Iran is also an enthusiastic executioner. According to Shaheed, 760 judicial executions were carried out in Iran in 2011 alone, well more than half those that took place worldwide. True numbers are impossible to know because executions are frequently carried out in secret, but many others were conducted in noisy public spectacles.
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