The exception in recognizing human rights is the rule that orients justice in Iran. The judgment of the Iranian Supreme Court sentenced to death Ahmadreza Djalali, university researcher, resident in Sweden and held in Iran since April 2016, rekindling attention to the respect of human rights in the Islamic Republic. Every year, the regime of the ayatollahs denounces and imposes heavy penalties on dozens of scientists and intellectuals, accused of being spies recruited by foreign intelligence services to reveal the Iranian strategic plans.
Reflected also of the Middle Eastern geopolitical tensions, the recent protests testify the intolerance towards the authorities of the Country: to the cry of “No Gaza, No Lebanon, No Syria. Our life for Iran”, the streets are crowded to protest against the economic crisis and military expenditures incurred in regional conflicts. The government censors websites and social networks, placing, in the national security plan, more pervasive controls on human rights activists and defenders who, as Amnesty International reports, are closed “in the web of repression”. Civil society calls for justice reform and measures to reduce socio-economic inequalities: on one hand, the total number of executions has been rising since 2015 (more than 200 in the first half of 2017), as well as trials for false crimes are growing; on the other hand, the effect of war funding on the allies and the clientelism of the ayatollah economy rise youth unemployment (around 40%) and popular discontent, fueled by the increase in prices of basic necessities. In 2013, the election of the current president Hassan Rouhani, a moderate politician who distinguished himself for a more pragmatic and reformist approach than the ultra-conservatism of his predecessor Maḥmūd Aḥmadinežād, allowed for more openings regarding the issue of human and civil rights. The “Civil Rights Charter”, solicited by citizens and non-governmental organizations, was approved in December 2016; an important provision that, however, remains confined to the restrictive perimeter of state laws and the constitution, far from the guarantees of the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966).
Propaganda campaigns magnify economic and welfare states reforms, the cornerstone of reformist policies, although compliance with the conditions of the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, nuclear non-proliferation agreement, signed in 2015) has not produced social benefits, eroded by the power of Bonyad, asphyxiating parastatal foundations. Obscurantism and internal folding achieve the objective of diverting the attention of the international community from monitoring violations of human rights.
Twenty years after the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders (1998), “the international community, and especially the European Union, must not remain silent about the outrageous treatment of human rights defenders in Iran”, underlines Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s director for research and advocacy on the Middle East and North Africa.
On the occasion of the World Human Rights Day (10 December), a conference was held at the European Parliament, where associations and political leaders intervened to support the democratic demands put forward by the Iranian people. Condemning the regime’s repressive actions, Maryam Rajavi, president of the NCRI (National Council of Resistance of Iran), stressed the urgency of presenting to the UN Security Council a dossier documenting the torture suffered in Iran by 30,000 political prisoners since 1988 and urged the international community to prosecute the perpetrators of the crimes.
“Instead of coaxing the Iranian authorities – continues Luther -, the European Union should firmly demand the immediate release of all persons in prison for their peaceful commitment to defending human rights and the cessation of the use of judicial power to reduce them to silence “.
Ahmad Djalali is yet another “corruptor on earth” condemned by Iranian justice, after an unfair trial process. Rejected by the court the choice of his defense lawyer (as permitted by Article 48 of the Iranian Penal Procedure Code), the researcher reported having undergone psychological pressure and physical abuse to confess that he was a spy recruited by Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency, to provide information on military bases and nuclear sites in Iran. In isolation in Evin prison, where other alleged infiltrators are accused by the Iranian authorities of attempting to national security, Djalali continues to suffer personal intimidation and death threats against his family.
Since the birth of the Islamic Republic of Iran (1979), the meshes of repression against dissidents and activists have never weakened, in all political seasons: the presidency of Mohammad Khātami (1997-2005) has inaugurated a dialogue focused on cultural diversity , favored by more openings about the issue of rights in the public debate, which was counterbalanced by the oppressive and liberticidal character of the executive of Maḥmūd Aḥmadinežād (2005-2013). Among the reasons for the arrest of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, Thomson Reuters Foundation project manager, there is “her involvement in the post-electoral uprisings that have swept Tehran and other cities in 2009”, as reported by the Iranian Press TV. The disputed electoral victory of Aḥmadinežād, for the opposition vitiated by fraud, led to the so-called “green revolution”: the protest involved many young people who exploited the potential of the Internet and social networks to coordinate demonstrations of dissent against the government and inform the international media.
The Guardian has reconstructed the developments of the “Nazanin affair”: detained in Iran since April 2016, the British-Iranian citizen was sentenced to five years in prison on charges of “conspiracy against the Iranian regime”, while she was training activities in the field of journalism. As in the case of Djalali, reports Press TV, Zaghari-Ratcliffe “is responsible for conducting criminal activities under the direction of media and secret services of foreign governments”. The petition promoted by husband Richard Ratcliffe have reached over one million signatures, prompting the UN to bring its history to the attention of the public and to condemn the violations of human rights perpetrated in Iran. In recent weeks, the meeting between Mohammad Zarif and Boris Johnson, foreign ministers of Iran and the United Kingdom, has left glimmers about the release of Zaghari-Ratcliffe. The inertia of the international community, faced with Iranian positions on respect for human rights, can no longer be tolerated: the stories of Ahmad and Nazanin must break the wall of indifference.
Article published on affarinternazionali.it
Free Nazanin Ratcliffe, petition on change.org