Guest article by Hamid Yazdan Panah
Much has been made about the supposed benefits of the Iran nuclear deal. One of the most audacious claims has been that the nuclear deal would result in an improvement in the human rights situation inside the country. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact if the last past few weeks are any indication, Iran may very well set a new record for executions committed in the past decade. To make matters worse, the issue is being completely swept under the rug, despite claims that a nuclear deal would give the West “leverage” to promote human rights.
According to the Iranian opposition sources, the regime has executed as many as 65 individuals this past week, with not so much as a mention in the Western Press. Instead we are left with ridiculous articles like the one penned by Peter Beinart in the Atlantic, entitled “When a Nation Is Threatened, Democracy Is an Impossible Dream”. Actually Mr. Beinart, when a nation leads the world in execution rate, and is ruled by a Supreme leader, that is when democracy is an impossible dream.
Beinart takes one of the classic excuses used by the regime, the threat of an outside enemy, and parrots it to justify the behavior of the regime. The regime has done this throughout its history, whether it has been Iraq, Israel or the “Great Satan” the United States. All totalitarian regimes do this. Iran is no exception and the current nuclear deal will not change this behavior.
Beinart assumes somehow that a nuclear deal will benefit ordinary activists, because he has consulted with Akbar Ganji, who is promoting a line which interestingly enough mirrors that of the Iranian regime. Lets make a deal and it will make your impossible dreams come true.
Nevermind that the Iranian constitution is completely contrary to principles of equality, free speech, or pluralism. Nevermind that Iran’s prisons are overflowing and the regime continues to hang people in public in medieval displays of power. These are inconvenient facts that aren’t relevant to our feel good piece.
Also lost in the article is the fact that a recent report by UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Ahmad Shaheed noted that “the overall situation has worsened” with respect to human rights under the supposedly moderate Rouhani.
Nasrin Sotoudeh, an activist attorney and former political prisoner dissidents articulated the reality of the nuclear negotiations in respect to human rights. “Reaching a nuclear agreement cannot automatically improve human rights in Iran…We should distinguish these issues from one another. If a government manages to reach an agreement with the international community, it can still continue to mistreat its own citizens.
Prominent Iranian dissident, Mohammad Maleki, was quoted as saying “In my opinion, as long as people are not permitted to exercise their freedom of expression and opinion, then nothing significant will happen for the improvement of the human rights situation.”
Beinart makes the same mistake he accuses Republicans and others of making on Iran, putting partisan goals over human rights. Beinart, and indeed much of the American liberal viewpoint continues to overlook the truth nature of this regime, and ignore the daily reality for Iranians on the ground.
Instead of surveying Iranian dissidents abroad, Beinart would do better to examine the viewpoints of Iranians imprisoned, many of whom oppose any deal with the murderous regime in Tehran.
This is not to say that a military conflict is the solution. But it is time for some honest reporting with respect to just how inhumane and brutal this regime is. Instead we are left with worsening human rights situation and no one left to report on it.