Ali Bagheri Kani told the state-run news agency IRNA in late September that the regime’s criteria for human rights differed from what was “claimed to be human rights in the West”. He wasn’t kidding!
As the number one per-capita executioner in the world, the Iranian regime’s human rights record is unassailable. As a country that shoots dead young, unarmed protesters in the street, it has a proud record to boast about. As a regime that hangs, flogs and mutilates its citizens in public and tortures political prisoners in its medieval jails, its “achievements” are irrefutable!
Sadly, this is not a laughing matter. Eighty million Iranians do not see the funny side. For them, 41 years of relentless repression by a venally corrupt, terrorist regime is beyond a joke. The majority of Iranians struggle to survive on daily incomes below the international poverty line. They are demanding regime change and the restoration of freedom, justice and democracy to their impoverished nation. They have had enough of the mullahs and they look to the West for support.
How can the mullahs’ regime trumpet their human rights “achievements” when they now readily admit that in 1988, they coordinated the massacre of 30,000 political prisoners in prisons across Iran?
The UN has irrefutable evidence of this atrocity that must rank as one of the worst crimes against humanity of the late 20th century. The mass executions were carried out on the basis of a fatwa by the regime’s then-Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
A ‘death committee’ of four senior officials approved all the executions. Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi, a member of that death committee, was until mid-2017 President Hassan Rouhani’s justice minister. When his part in the murders became known publicly, he was replaced by Alireza Avaie, who himself was a prominent executioner during the 1988 massacre, in his role as chief prosecutor in the city of Dezful. Avaie has been on the EU’s terrorist blacklist for years.
How is it possible that a regime that appoints a known terrorist and executioner as its justice minister can boast about its human rights achievements?
Iran’s chief justice Ebrahim Raisi is also notorious for his active involvement in the execution of thousands of political prisoners during the 1988 massacre in Tehran. He is widely despised by Iranians for his brutality against those arrested during the recent nationwide protests.
Since his appointment by the regime’s Supreme Leader as chief justice in March 2019, the judiciary has cracked down on dissent more than ever before and has handed down dozens of death sentences to political prisoners. The recent disgraceful execution of the young champion wrestler, Navid Afkari, sent shockwaves around the world, following a global campaign to save his life.
But Afkari’s execution was simply another example of the gross violations of human rights that have marked the regime’s tenuous grip on power. This fascist dictatorship has executed more than 3,800 people since the so-called ‘moderate’ Hassan Rouhani became president.
It is a dictatorship that governs through corruption, bribery, blackmail, extortion and fear. It has arrested and imprisoned over 15,000 peaceful protesters during the on-going uprisings that have raged across Iran for the past two years. Many of those arrested have been tortured to death or have simply ‘disappeared’.
Despite the overwhelming evidence of systematic violations of human rights in Iran’s jails, Bagheri ludicrously stated that the families of prisoners should not be concerned about the “security, wellbeing, comfort, and vitality” of their loved ones in Iran’s prisons.
This regime, that claims to be a paragon of human rights, has vigorously backed Bashar al-Assad’s bloody civil war in Syria; it has trained, financed and commanded the brutal Shi’ia militias in Iraq; it has sponsored the Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon and the Houthi rebels in Yemen; it has bankrolled and inspired the export of proxy-wars and terror throughout the Middle East and the wider world. This is a regime that is not content with brutally abusing its own citizens. It has systematically spread its terror and evil around the Middle East and the wider world, commanding and orchestrating the death of hundreds of thousands.
Bagheri boasted that the Islamic Republic’s “rights achievements” were based on the regime’s “religious lifestyle”. It seems the people of Iran don’t share his enthusiasm for these proud achievements.
“We don’t want an Islamic Republic” and “We don’t want the rule of the mullahs” are amongst the most popular chants during the on-going protests. Bagheri even had the cheek to accuse the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Iran of “political motives”, claiming that “Westerners used human rights as a tool” against the regime.
He was clearly referring to the recent report by Javaid Rehman, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran. Amongst many other crimes, Mr Rehman highlighted the appalling conditions in which those arrested during the nationwide uprising in November 2019 are being held, including those on death row who will now face the same fate as those massacred in 1988.
Indeed, in her 2017 report on Iran to the UN General Assembly, Asma Jahangir, the then UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Iran, highlighted the 1988 massacre of political prisoners.
Nelson Mandela famously said: “To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity." The West must stop its appeasement of this fascist dictatorship and hold them accountable for their crimes against humanity. The absurd utterances of people like Ali Bagheri Kani should be consigned to the bad jokes dustbin.
Struan Stevenson is coordinator of the Campaign for Iran Change