We recently reported on the riots in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison, in which guards used extreme violence against prisoners in the political ward, including seven journalists. The incident was widely reported in Western media outlets, drawing attention to Iran’s problematic human rights record – relatively unchanged (and in some respects, even worse) under President Hassan Rouhani.
And now, with the Evin violence igniting widespread protests in Iran, including a movement to shave heads in solidarity with prisoners, some outlets are calling on Rouhani to address the human rights abuses in the country. On Monday, The Guardian’s Saeed Kamali Dehghan, urged Rouhani to speak up on the Evin violence, human rights issues and his “faded” promise of change. In a similar vein, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran said Rouhani’s silence on the brutal violence was “unacceptable.”
In an article on the Evin events in The Wall Street Journal, Farnaz Fassihi wrote that human rights, along with the economic issue, were Rouhani’s greatest challenges, with critics saying he put too much focus on the nuclear issue at their expense.
This followed Iran’s election to the UN’s committee on NGOs and the Commission on women’s status, which drew harsh criticism from US officials who blasted the appointment as “troublesome” and outrageous, in light of Iran’s human rights record.
And in Iran? The Tasnim news agency quoted the chief of the Iranian judiciary’s Human Rights Council as saying the West was using human rights as “a field for blackmailing and attacking” Iran and “the Islamic system.” Fars quoted the same official, Mohammad Javad Larijani, as accusing Europe of hypocrisy on both terrorism and drug-related executions. It also quoted Iran’s new head of judiciary, Ebrahim Rayeesi, as saying the West does not respect its own citizens’ human rights and is ready to “annihilate all nations”.
What do they smoke there?