Iran executed nearly 1,000 prisoners last year, the highest number in two decades, and hundreds of journalists, activists and opposition figures languish in custody, a United Nations investigator said on Thursday, Reuters reports.
The Islamic Republic is maneuvering with its allies at the U.N. Human Rights Council to block Western attempts to renew the mandate of a special investigator into Tehran’s human rights record, reports suggest:
At the HRC session now underway in Geneva, Ahmed Shaheed is presenting a report that highlights abuses including a 20-year high in executions – almost 1,000 in 2015 – a “widening crackdown on freedom of expression and opinion,” and mistreatment of religious minorities such as Baha’i and Christian converts from Islam……
Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez….pledged to secure the support of fellow Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and Latin American members of the council for an end to Shaheed’s mandate….Venezuela, like other NAM countries as well as members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), opposes country-specific mandates on principle, and in a 2007 victory those blocs managed to kill the mandates of special rapporteurs for Cuba and Belarus.
Dozens of political prisoners in Raja’i Shahr prison in the city of Karaj, Iran, endorsed Shaheed by sending an open letter to the UN Human Rights Council, asking the Council to re-elect Shaheed and extend mission for the next year, the Boroumand Foundation* adds:
These prisoners, most of whom have spent many years in prison, emphasized: “As we have spent many years in prison, we are naturally as well informed as anybody about Iran’s human rights situation. We have followed Iran’s human rights situation, not as human rights defenders or as members of human rights, political, or social organizations, but as people whose lives and personal security is dependent on the human rights situation in Iran. Therefore, we believe that our evaluation and estimation of the Special Rapporteur’s work and the human rights situation in Iran is very reasonable and based on fact.”
The recent elections confirm that “conventional makeup of Iranian politics has been destroyed by the recent turmoil in the Middle East and the ongoing pressure on Tehran,” notes Mehdi Khalaji (left), the Libitzky Family Fellow at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy:
Khamenei warned the people that the turmoil following the contested 2009 presidential election was designed by the West to overthrow the regime and destabilize the country, claiming that the only alternative to the Islamic Republic was chaos. This narrative gained considerable traction after the 2011 “Arab Spring” ushered in a period of unimaginable violence in the region, discouraging many Iranians from taking part in any political actions that might undermine the system. At the same time, increasing international sanctions increased their fear of a military attack.
These concerns, coupled with the outcome of the nuclear negotiations, have raised the people’s hope that minor changes through elections can save the country from war and chaos. The high vote tallies for non-hardliners can be interpreted as the public’s longing for politicians who will take a less hostile approach to the West and guarantee their peace, prosperity, and security. In that sense, the people voted not so much for the regime’s legitimacy, but rather for its unique ability to keep the country from falling apart.
*The Boroumand Foundation is a grantee of the National Endowment for Democracy.