Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Tom Porteous of Human Rights Watch Responds

I spoke on the phone with Mr Porteous of Human Rights Watch regarding his appearance on Press TV's Andrew Gilligan's Forum debating torture, and his omission to mention Iran's violations of the prohibition of torture. Mr Porteous conceded that in hindsight it would have been a good idea to have mentioned Iran in the discussion, and that he will endeavour to raise the issue when he can in subsequent programmes. His reason for not mentioning Iran at that time was because he was caught 'in the heat of the moment' whilst following the course of the debate, and Iran was not mentioned by the host or any other panelist, so it did not flow naturally to think of Iran. However, he expressed what seemed to be a sincere promise to mention Iran in such cases in future.

I brought to his attention that it is crucial to mention Iran and the struggle for, and violations of, human rights, as it will give the viewers in Iran a sense of external support, which may serve to boost their morale when they take to the streets in protest for their rights. Mr Porteous agreed with this point and re-iterated his promise to make an effort to mention Iran in subsequent Press TV debates.

On the point of attending Press TV programmes, Mr Porteous maintained that he was not fully aware of whether the IRI sponsor Press TV in whole or in part; and that he had spoken with a senior Press TV employee who used to work for the BBC. His point was that he did not know for sure how much the IRI government is responsible for Press TV. He added that it is worth appearing on such programmes because it is an opportunity to present Human Rights Watch, and give the people an opportunity to become aware of the organisation as well as human rights issues. Mr Porteous referred to Al-Jazeera and its origins, which he argued "is not the most democratic" of States, but that it is important to attend all platforms in attempt to voice human rights issues.

At least, Mr Porteous recognised the importance of mentioning Iran, and expressed regret at not having done so. So far, Ms Algar of Reprieve has been defensive, and has ignored subsequent correspondence pertaining to why she omitted Iran from the discussion. This illustrates poorly on her representation of human rights and Reprieve.


  1. Mehrtash, again, thank you for putting in so much effort, the more people that become aware of the regime's crimes the better!

    Well done, it will be excellent if one day on the Mullah's PressTV someone brings up their despotism, it will stun them.

    Also: good on Mr Porteous for not getting defensive and actually seeing why he was at fault.


  2. Thank you very much for your words of encouragement. I, too was pleased that Mr Porteous addressed the issue directly, without resorting to a defensive response.

    I would like to hear/see/read that someone exposes the IRI on their own show :) In time.