There’s been some good news from Iran (for a change): Iranian President Hassan Rouhani pardoned or reduced the sentences of 920 prisoners last month in honor of the anniversary of the Islamic Revolution. IRNA broke the news of the grand gesture in late March, and Western media outlets immediately picked it up, noting that it was unknown whether any of the pardoned convicts were political prisoners.
To some outlets, Rouhani’s show of magnanimity was viewed as sharply contrasting with his human rights record: a staggering 537 executions since the “moderate” politician took office in June. Reuters, for example, probed the puzzling contradiction in a recent analysis and concluded Rouhani might be under pressure by hardliner political opponents who want to show the West they can still exercise influence in the country by eliminating “threats.”
Whatever the reason, things aren’t getting better. This week, just as Iran and the P5+1 were holding expert-level nuclear talks in Vienna, the Islamic republic lashed out at the European Parliament for a recent non-binding resolution condemning the “grave human rights violations in Iran,” including the sharp increase in hangings and arbitrary use of the death penalty, and urging diplomats to shine a spotlight on Iran’s rights violations as they negotiate with Tehran.
In Iran, meanwhile, the “anti-Iran” resolution was derided as an “ugly, inappropriate move” and “historic mistake” which could have an adverse effect on the nuclear talks, PressTV reported. Iran even summoned the Greek ambassador over the document and the allegations it raised concerning “alleged” human rights violations, as PressTV described them.
Soft-spoken, articulate Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif panned the EU, to which both he and Rouhani have shown a mild, friendly face, for lacking the “moral authority” to preach to the Islamic republic. Because Iran’s “moderate” leaders always practice what they preach….