13) Sri Lanka
Such were countries that disgracefully sided with, and appluaded, both the IRI delegate Dr Mohammad Javad Larijani and the IRI during the United Nations Human Rights Council's Universal Periodic Review of the Islamic Republic of Iran, on Monday 15th February, 2010, room 20 of the United Nations building in Geneva. I had the privilege of attending.
These countries "warmly" welcomed the delegate of the IRI and commended the IRI Report as indicative of "Iran's committment" to human rights. Some countries, such as Nicaragua, heralded the 1979 Islamic Revolution as "a great example of a great culture liberating the Iranians". This does not serve as a suprise when the IRI squanders the hard-earned money of the Iranian people by funding the erection of a mosque in Nicaragua. Other countries, such as Pakistan, called for Iran to "share their expertise", such as human rights "training of the judiciary" and law enforcement agents. Where recommendations were concerned, the majority of the above countries, called on the IRI to "continue" with their efforts on human rights.
At various points of the Review, the floor was given to Dr Larijani to respond to the comments submitted by State delegates; such was abused as a platform to broadcast sensational claims, backed by propaganda. In his first response, Dr Larijani accused the "western delegates" of using "a bit of bitey language". What type of 'bitey langauage'? Quite simply, states had expressed grave concerns at the manner in which the IRI authorities responded to and handled the post 12th June 2009 Presidential election protests, namely the excessive violence, arbitrary arrests of peaceful protesters and the rape of detainees; and the execution of juvenile offenders that constitute a violation of international human rights intstruments, such as the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Dr Larijani then passed the floor over to the Deputy Minister of Justice, Mr Raeis Sadati. Sadati insulted the intelligence of human rights defenders by arguing that the IRI is amongst the countries with advanced judicial processes; that detainees cannot be held in detention for more than 24 hours without being brought before a competent judge (Article 24 Criminal Procedure IRI); and that prisoners have "reasonable conditions" and enjoy access to an attorney and visits by members of their family. This is all true, in accordance with their national laws; however, the IRI contravene these laws through their practice. The Director-General for Political Affairs of the Ministry of Interior, Mahmoud Abbaszadeh Meshkini, had the audacity to add that the repercussions of the post 12-June demonstrations were illustrative of foreign powers "meddling" in Iran's affairs, by "inserted agents"; and that the treatement of detainess was "minor". The final insulting blow cast by Meshkini was that the "IRI does not permit freedom of expression for violence and hatred".
The next IRI slave to speak poison was member of the IRI Parliament, and Assyrian 'Christian' representative, Yonathan Betkolia, who sneakily took a photo of me on his camera phone following a moment of tension and an exchange of words between us at the adoption of the Review of Iran, on Wednesday 17 February 2009. Has he forgotten that we were not on the streets of Iran where he can attempt to plan the violation of my human rights by capturing an image of me on his camera-phone for the purposes of intimidating me or using it to monitor me by infringing my right to privacy? During his speech, he dishonourably asserted that there is no discrimination between the various relgions either in "law or practice". Has he not heard of the persecution of Bahais, for example?
Dr Larijani then passed the floor to Dr Mahboubeh Mobasher, the Chancellor of Al-Zahra University. She blurted out silly statistics on how women have reached high positions in Islamic Iranian society; that the "significance of Iranian women's status thirty years after the revolution is undeniable". Dr Mobasher betrayed the very struggle for gender equality by asserting that women enjoyed improved rights in divorce and child custody cases. Please refer to Article 1133 of the IRI Civil Code that proves otherwise. However, what was really shocking was Mobasher's ludicrous and audacious claim that children have no criminal responsibilty; that "adults under eighteen" are prosecuted with lenient sentences, even in cases of "intentional murder". Firstly, there is no such thing as an 'adult' who is 'under eighteen' years of age, children are under eighteen years of age, as protected by Article 1 of the Convention of the Rights of the Child. Secondly, there has not been any 'leniency' shown to juvenile offenders; the IRI has even sanctioned vigilante acts of vengeance against children who would have been found guilty of manslaughter in other countries, by permitting the family of the first victim to pull the stool out from under the condemned, letting him hang to his death.
The session came to an end, with more countries left waiting their turn to comment but could not do so, given the UPR session had run out of time. Dr Larijani 'graced' the audience with his closing statement. He told the story of how he was once a political dissident and imprisoned for it during the time of the Shah, when the Shah enjoyed full support by the very same countries who "today air a barrage of accusations" against the IRI. The deluded Dr Larijani argued that the IRI is becoming the most prominent 'democracies' in the region. He maintained:
"We appreciate dialogues in enhancing human rights; but there is a difference in politicizing human rights and airing a barrage of accusations...Kahrizak prison was closed within twenty-four hours of the reports of abuse reaching our attention, please compare this with Abu Ghraib prison and Guantanamo Bay...women are respected more in the IRI than in countries, such as the U.S.A...It is not correct to assert the only way to live is the way life is lived in Washington or in London..."
The session ended and the twenty-five supporting states and fans of human rights violations had the lamentable audacity to provide Dr Larijani with a round of applause. I got up from my seat, feeling sick, dizzy and betrayed. These were the many countries who expressed support and commendations for a regime that executes its own son; and now the IRI is running for a seat at the Human Rights Council (HRC) in May, 2010. I could see people rushing up to the officials exiting the HRC dock in hope of photographs and praises. With all this in mind I felt the world had abruptly stopped spinning on its axis, throwing all into the unknown. I lifted my heavy legs in an attempt to head to Room 24 to conduct my presentation at the UN. However, I soon found my legs carrying me away from the exit of Room 20 and instead towards Dr Larijani and his partners in crime. I pushed through the small circle of the 'useful idiots' who were seeking a moment of fame with the advocates of tyranny and oppression. I looked squarely into their eyes. A man who was with the Larijani posse looked back and smiled a little at me, mistaking me for a supporter. I could do nothing but stare back with utter contempt. However, his smile was human, soft and sincere. It was at this point that one could argue sanity had escaped me, because I found myself feeling a sense of sadness that human beings could stoop to such low levels and betray humanity by obliterating the rights of their own people. I looked into this young man's eyes, with the same degree of anger and sentiments of loathing; but I was not deceiving myself, these were still humans, no matter how evil. It was then that I realized violence had escaped me, that we the Iranian people will not stoop to the evil IRI's level and become violent agents. It was then that I realized violence had no place in our hearts.
The young man realized that I was not one of his supporters, and he swiftly dropped his smile and took note of my presence. I pushed past and got closer to see Dr Larijani pull himself out of the dock. He looked up at me with an expecting smile and halfway extended his hand out as if to meet my hand to shake. But his efforts were not reciprocated. Instead he was met with the frustrated, heart-broken, disappointed, betrayed, angry, livid, vexed and justice-thirsty essence of my existence expressed in the endless stare of my glaring eye, sown into his eyes so that my contempt for him and his regime penetrates the dark abyss of the lost soul that dwells within him. The stare was held for long enough for me to feel that he had realized who I was, and who I most certainly was not. There was no point for dialogue, I did not wish to give him an excuse to run and hide behind words of 'he's another unbeliever' or 'he's a spy for the West'. I wanted him to have no rhetoric but to be defeaned by the silent rage expressed in a single long and sincere stare, and so I did just that.
I then left him to enjoy photos with the money-worshippers who sought to strengthen their connections with the IRI in hope of profit. I got to look my enemy in the eye and make him aware of my existence. It was a good start to the end of the beginning.
Next post: The IRI Rejects Justice in Geneva - the adoption of the UPR.