It is no secret that human rights under the Iranian Regime are few and far between. On Human Rights Day earlier this month, we heard once again how the mullahs in charge in Iran are masking serious human rights violations behind a veil of normality. This cannot continue.
Professor Raymond Tanter, a senior member on the Middle East Desk of the National Security Council staff in the Reagan-Bush administration, wrote an op-ed for The Hill in which he outlined what needs to be done to curb Iran’s human rights abuses.
He argues that the Iranian Regime leaders need to be brought before the International Criminal Court (ICC) in order to be tried for crimes against humanity (including the 1988 massacre of political prisoners) and that the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights needs to create a special commission of inquiry.
However, he also argued that Donald Trump’s national security strategy and Iran policy needs to keep a focus on human rights.
Tanter, also a former Personal Representative of the Secretary of Defense to international security and arms control talks in Europe, wrote: “[Washington is] missing in action, AWOL in defence of human rights. Instead, Trump believes national security interests are defined by hard power, instead of soft power, like human rights. This situation [in Iran] is intolerable.”
That is not to say that the US should ignore Iran’s sponsorship of terrorism or ballistic missile tests- far from it- but human rights need to be defended by world powers and what better place to start than the Land of the Free?
The 1988 Massacre in Iran
Almost 30 years ago, 30,000 prisoners were slaughtered in a matter of months because then-Supreme Leader Ruhollah Khomeini ordered the execution of all who opposed the regime.
This meant students who handed out pro-democracy leaflets on campus, young children who had attended political rallies with their parents, striking workers, pregnant women caught with a pamphlet of the opposition party, and elderly people who simply wanted to vote against their oppressors.
Their murders were carried out in secret, their bodies buried in undisclosed mass graves, and their fate was hidden from their families for years. The world remained largely silent about this massacre, the worst crime against humanity since WW2.
Worse still, nothing has changed in the intervening years.
Tanter wrote: “Abuses still take place, while the words of human rights activists fall on deaf ears. Rather than denouncing the regime with harsh condemnations it rightly deserves, the world has virtually ignored abuses carried out in its prisons and streets; instead the major powers provide the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) lucrative transactions like the Iran Deal of 2015, rather than hard-hitting sanctions that cut deeply.”
It is not just their own people that the Regime poses a risk to- although that would be bad enough. The Regime also helps to prop up the Bashar Assad dictatorship in Syria, according to the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), and by challenging the IRGC on human rights, Tanter argues it would discredit them militarily.
This has got to change and the US should lead the way. The designation of the IRGC as a Foreign Terrorist Organization was a good start, but it needs to go deeper and further.
Tanter wrote: “[The Universal Declaration of Human Rights] gives Trump an occasion to suggest we consider human rights as national security interests. But he has not done so, and is unlikely to do so in the National Security Strategy unveiled December 18.”
1. Revise his National Security Strategy to include human rights
2. Support Regime Change from within, led by NCRI President Maryam Rajavi
3. Take note of comments from former and current US officials like Senator Ben Cardin, Senator John Bozeman, former speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, former Chief of Staff to President Obama General Jim Jones, and Ambassador Lincoln Bloomfield, Jr. who all raised the issue of human rights in Iran at an event by the Organization for Iranian-American Communities (OIACUS) on December 7.
Tanter wrote: “Trump’s White House speech rolling out his Iran Policy Review does not target Tehran’s human rights record and hence to expose the regime’s intolerable abuses. A related State Department document only discusses topics, such as nuclear weapons, ballistic missiles, and Iran as a State Sponsor of International Terrorism. For Trump’s national security strategy to truly make a difference, we have no choice but to incorporate consideration for human rights.”
Originally published at towardfreeiranwithmaryamrajavi.blogspot.com on December 20, 2017.