Now that the nuclear deal with the P5+1 is a reality, Iran is already ushering in a new era of cooperation with the West – at least in some areas. Aviation, tourism, business, regular and increased flights to and from European capitals (and Middle Eastern ones too), banking, oil, travel and more – in all these areas, Iran is already beginning to reap the rewards of the nuclear accord.
But while Iran seeks – indeed, eagerly anticipates – closer cooperation with the West in some areas, in others, it actively avoids it. The most pertinent example is human rights: in this field, unlike in aviation or banking, Iran, does everything but welcome Western norms or interventions.
Even as Iran has been celebrating the new nuclear accord, it has not been desisting even for a moment from the inhumane practices that have earned it a reputation as a severe human rights abuser: executing juvenile offenders and prisoners at a record-breaking, “unprecedented” pace; in fact, carrying out more executions in the first half of 2015 than in the entire previous year (a “’staggering’ execution spree,” to quote Amnesty International.
How is this happening? Why has the dialogue between Iran and the West on “bilateral issues” not entailed an improvement in Iran’s troubling rights record (from which Western citizens held captive in Iran have not been spared)? And why has the press – aside from media outlets that are often critical of the Islamic republic and its rights record, such as Amnesty International, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran and the National Council of Resistance of Iran – not been more steadfast or vigorous in demanding that European and US leaders put the issue on the table? It’s high time major news outlets followed the example of The Guardian, which echoed UN Special Rapporteur Ahmed Shaheed’s call for Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to shift his focus from nuclear rights to human rights, and DW, which recently published a piercing interview with Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi on activism, awareness and the possibility of a “human rights deal” with Iran.