U.S. Senators Marco Rubio and Mark Kirk have penned a joint article published Friday in The Daily Beast highlighting Iran’s record on human rights, which they call “horrific.”
In October, President Barack Obama sent a secret communique to Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei recommending security cooperation in the region for Tehran’s approval of a proposed nuclear deal,
Days later, Iran hanged a 26-year-old woman for killing her attempted rapist.
Reyhaneh Jabbari was accused of killing a former Iranian intelligence ministry official after an attempted rape.
The article notes that Khamenei refused to hear pleas for clemency from the United Nations and global human rights groups, as well as ignoring evidence that Iranian authorities tortured her to obtain a confession. Iran also pressured Jabbari to use an poorly prepared lawyer.
“Tragically, this case is far from uncommon,” said Amnesty International’s Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui.
“The world is rightly focused on Iran’s growing nuclear threat and the regime’s destabilizing support for international terrorism,” write the Senators. “Yet Iran’s state of injustice—the regime’s systematic human rights abuses and suppression of the Iranian people’s aspirations to be free—deserves equal attention.”
A report by Ahmed Shaheed, the United Nations special rapporteur on human rights in Iran, also sheds light on the regime’s record of human rights abuses.
Iran has increasingly relied on executions, 687 in 2013 and 411 so far only in the first half of 2014.
Under Iranian law, its citizens face executions for an appallingly broad range of non-violent crimes: “adultery, recidivist alcohol use, drug possession and trafficking,” corruption and moharebeh (roughly translated as “enmity against God”).
The report points out that the Tehran regime has disproportionately executed individuals from religious and ethnic minority groups simply for exercising “protected rights, including freedom of expression and association.”
Shaheed’s report also warns that Iranian authorities continue “widespread and systematic use” of torture – both psychological and physical – for false confessions, which include “prolonged solitary confinement, mock executions and the threat of rape, along with physical abuse, including severe beatings, use of suspension and pressure positions, electroshock and burnings.” Flogging and amputations are also tactics for torture used by Iranian officials.
Tehran continues to quash freedom of expression by harassing and detaining reporters and bloggers, with at least 35 journalists currently detained. In addition to filtering content of blogs and social media, authorities actively block as many as five million websites committed to the arts, social issues, and news.
“The Shaheed report should be required reading for those in Washington who dream of an American-Iranian alliance against the Islamic State,” the article says. “And argue that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is a moderate reformer.”
Egregious violations of human rights are continuing more than a year after Rouhani was named Iran’s president.
In the meantime, the Senators say, the U.S. needs to do more to help the people of Iran to bring about a day where Reyhaneh Jabbari and others can live lives to full potential.