Sunday, 2 February 2014

UN Experts Alarmed by Iran Hangings as UK Halts Bill

More than 40 people were hanged in Iran in the first 22 days of this year, senior United Nations officials have just revealed. In a report just published on human rights in Iran, Ahmed Shaheed and Christopher Heyns said there had been a surge in summary executions in Iran. Those put to death included a number of people accused of acting against national security. The two UN Special Raporteurs called on Tehran to put an immediate halt to any further hangings.

According to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the majority of the executions were for drug-related offences; however, a number of detainees were executed for the crime of ‘Moharabeh’ (enmity against God), or acting against national security. The Iranian Government has in the past used this charge to execute anti-government protestors, and any other person who publicly criticises the establishment. The great massacre of 1988 in Iran saw the Ayatollah regime summarily execute thousands of prisoners over five months for politically opposing the newly established Islamic regime as a result of the 1979 revolution, and unilaterally labelled them as members of the MEK, a fundamental Islamic guerrilla organisation who endorse a Marxist ideology. However, monarchists; socialists and leftists were also executed, charged by the regime as being MEK members.

The protests following the disputed 2009 Presidential elections also had its share of arbitrary arrests, detentions and an on-site shoot to kill policy as fierce reprisal against those protesting peacefully in the streets. During his Friday prayer sermon in 2009, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei had warned that if the people of Iran did not end their street protests and return to their homes, the ensuing “bloodshed and chaos” would be the “opposition leaders’ responsibility”.

In a press release, Rapporteur Heyns commented “We are dismayed at the continued application of the death penalty with alarming frequency by the authorities, despite repeated calls for Iran to establish a moratorium on executions”. Heyns further commented that “the inherently cruel, inhuman and degrading nature of the death penalty” demonstrates that the Government is proceeding with executions that fail to meet the established standard threshold of the ‘most serious crimes’ as required by international law.

Rapporteur Shaheed expressed deep concern at the increase in executions of political activists and individuals from ethnic minority groups, stating “the persistent execution of individuals for exercising their rights to freedom of assembly, association, and affiliation to minority groups contravenes universally accepted human rights principles and norms”. 

The Special Rapporteurs urged the Government of Iran, as an active member of the international community, to heed the calls for a moratorium on executions, especially in cases relating to political activists and alleged drug-offences. 

“We urge the Iranian authorities at least to restrict the use of the death penalty to what is permissible as an exception under international law, and namely to limit its imposition only for the crime of intentional killing, and to respect stringently international standards guaranteeing fair trial and due process for those facing the death penalty”.

Unlike Iran and China, who have the highest rates of executions in the world, the UK abolished the imposition of the death penalty ‘in all circumstances’ in 1998; however, the last execution took place in 1964, where Peter Allen was executed for the murder of John West. In 1965, Labour MP Sydney Silverman commenced a Bill to abolish capital punishment, which was passed by both Houses of Parliament. On 24th June, 2013, a Bill titled the ‘Capital Punishment Bill 2013-14’ was presented to Parliament calling for the reinstatement of Capital Punishment for certain offences. The Bill was sponsored by Mr. Philip Hollobone; however, it was not discussed and was shortly withdrawn without a view to progressing further. 

As a result of the 13th Protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights, the UK is prohibited from reinstating capital punishment for as long as it is party to the Convention. 

For many, it is with relief that the proposed reinstatement of being hanged at the gallows in the UK was halted and withdrawn; for others, it is a continued concern that the ceaseless execution of detainees in Iran is increasing. 

Washington is currently in negotiations with Tehran over its nuclear programme; perhaps the international community will one day negotiate a better human rights record for a country that descended from the empire of King Cyrus the Great of Persia, whose ‘Cyrus Cylinder’ bears history's first ever charter of human rights. A replica of the Cyrus Cylinder with the inscription of the charter can be found above the entrance to the UN Headquarters in New York.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

First They Took the Commission; Now They’re Coming for the Council.

UN diplomats informed Reuters that Iran intends to fill seats on the Human Rights Council’s 47-member body.  The General Assembly’s annual elections for the Geneva- based Human Rights Council will be held later this year in New York. There will be 14 seats available for three-year terms beginning in January 2014.

From the Asia group, which includes the Middle East and Asia, seven countries – China, Iran, Jordan, Maldives, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Vietnam – are vying for four seats, UN diplomats said on condition of anonymity.
With an unrivalled record of human rights violations, for Iran to be successful in gaining a seat on the Human Rights Council would be one of the greatest political failures of the past and present century. Iran has proven to be a country that ruthlessly murders and tortures its own people, most of the times because its ruling body is intolerant of political dissidence. To grant them a place on the Council would be tantamount to rewarding them for their three decades of gross human rights abuses, and act as betrayal to the millions of the victims and their families who have suffered the reign of the intolerant theocracy.
Iran has already been elected to sit on the UN Commission on the Status of Women, despite its appalling gender-discriminative legislation and unofficial abuse of women. The fox guards the proverbial hen-house; and now it appears that the international political community are willing to permit what would be tantamount to the head of a paedophile ring managing the world’s largest orphanage.
The objection is that this is a blatant display of double-standards and should not be accepted by anyone with even half a conscience. It is highly hypocritical for Iran to sit on the Human Rights Council, because they deceitfully claimed at the Human Rights Council’s 2010 Universal Periodic Review in Geneva to have an inspirational human rights record. What could possibly be ‘inspirational’ about raping virgin detainees on the eve of their execution – a previously recorded IRI practice - is beyond any intelligible reasoning. The IRI expresses saint-like behaviour, whilst hiding the perilous abuses of its own people under their theocratic cloak.
According to Human Rights Watch, “Iran falls far short of the most basic standards expected of Human Rights Council members and sticks out even in an overall disappointing pool of candidates in the Asia group, with deeply problematic contenders such as Vietnam, China or Saudi Arabia,”.
The Iranian-Hezbollah strategic partnership has intensified its involvement in Syria – and its complicity in crimes against humanity against the Syrian people – while Syria itself is increasingly an Iranian protectorate. In 2011, Syria attempted to run for a seat on the Council, but withdrew due to pressure from both Western and Arab states. Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government and rebels are locked in an increasingly sectarian civil war that has killed as many as 100,000 people, according to UN figures. For the sanctity of humanity to be preserved before it’s too late, such international pressure needs to be applied again in order to veto the terrorist-supporting and human-rights-discarding Iranian government from gaining a seat on the Council. The roots of their poison ought to be severed before the whole body of the Human Rights Council is infected.

This blog-post article also appears on the Iran Roundtable Website.

Friday, 21 June 2013

Sensationalised Ignorance vs Educated Opinion

I stumbled across this post on Facebook, and being a supporter of women's rights in the pursuit of securing gender equality in the world, I gave it the time of day. 

Unfortunately, I was deeply saddened to see the sensationalised text inciting more hatred towards a particular religion during an already fragile time. With the Western world peaking in it's hatred for a religion it has misunderstood, thanks to a bunch of numb-skull society-rejects who are hell-bent on wielding sacred scriptures of a faith in order to unethically utilise it for violence to further their own demons. 

Permit me to bring to your attention the first couple of errors (spin) on the picture: not only is the face in the picture not of 'Atefeh' , but some other poor person being murdered by the government of the IRI; but also whoever mastered this 'spin' clearly failed to have the decency to remember how to spell her name and so misspelled it ('Atehah') in the paragraph below the pic.

Furthermore, and more importantly, as you can see the text concludes with "This is Sharia Law". Well, therein lies the bone of contention, for after much study I can confidently tell you that it most certainly is not Sharia Law, nor is it remotely in accordance with the Sharia. The authorities of the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) routinely flout international human rights law, but also they contradict the very Sharia they claim to rely on - there is no hanging in the Sharia, nor did they follow the stringent evidential requirements to establish any 'guilt'. A robust proven example of this has been detailed in the following post published a while back. A lot of people were commenting that this is Islam and that it's an evil religion. So, a few groups of people commit atrocities in the name of religion and suddenly they are the official representatives of that religion? Are we truly that intellectually disadvantaged? 

And to those who endorse the ignorant attitude that other religions are better, remember the massacre at Srebrenica; how the Catholics and Protestants fought and killed each other; and how Christians murder Muslims in Africa; so-called Christian hatred targeting homosexuals; the countless UN Resolutions on Israel's breaches of international human rights legislation concerning Palestine... but you don't read about people vilifying their religion - and rightfully so. So why the double standards? 

No, This is a simple case of fascism directed towards one religion. People have and will continue to hijack various scriptures to wield their own agendas. Just because the older generations relied on the Bible to hold that people of African heritage were inferior, and systematically conducted violent assaults against them; and some members of Congress opposed Lincoln's push for the abolition of slavery does not mean all white people or Christians are racist; it does not mean that Christianity is a racist religion. It clearly demonstrates that some of the so-called followers of Christianity are ethically decayed.

Given this is a 'human rights' blog, the relevance here is the protected human right to freedom of conscience and the right to religion without fear of persecution thereof.

The problem is ignorance, and nothing more. Educate, read facts, not sensationalist posts. I can't blame you for thinking Islam is what it is thanks to misguided thugs and criminal organizations; but I can blame you for falling for unfounded sensationalist propaganda, without conducting a few minutes of reading from authentic sources, instead of emotive pictures and one-liners found on networking groups; or the tabloids come to that matter.