Currently Browsing

Posts Tagged ‘ United Nations ’

  • 28 April 2014
  • Posted By Kaveh Eslampour
  • 0 Comments
  • Human Rights in Iran, UN

Iran and Women’s Rights

On Wednesday, Iran was elected to a second four-year term on the United Nations’ Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), a body charged with advancing gender equality and the rights of women around the world. The move was strongly criticized by the Obama administration, who denounced Iran’s long record of repressing women’s rights.

Iran’s ascension to such a body, given its poor human rights record, warrants concern from the international community. At the same time, this may an important opportunity to shine a spotlight on the issue of women’s right’s inside of Iran. It should also be viewed as an opportunity to further press Iran to operate within the framework of the UN and to allow the Special Rappateur on Human Rights in Iran, Ahmed Shaheed, to visit Iran.

On the first count, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani shined a spotlight on women’s rights this week on the occasion of Women’s Day, saying “I, as the head of the government, confess there are still so many deficiencies with regards to the vindication of women’s rights.” He described “gender injustice” in Iran and lamented that “there are still women who are suffering from and even afraid of men’s unjust behavior – and this era must end.”

United Nation Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Iran Ahmed Shaheed released a report in March that documented the numerous violations of women’s rights and the imprisonment of many prominent women’s rights journalists, lawyers, and activists. His report describes the institutionalized discrimination of women that prevents fair court procedures, discourages women to come forward with rape charges, and many other forms that impact women’s everyday life. President Rouhani’s comments acknowledging some of these issues represents a small signal towards an effort to address gender inequality.

Rouhani’s election was based on a platform of not only improving relations with the West and negotiating an end to the nuclear standoff, but also improving human rights and building an inclusive government. Nearly ten months into his presidency, many analysts have criticized his short comings in regard to improving human rights – especially the rights of women. At the same time, women in Iran represent the majority of university students, even in the sciences that are traditionally dominated by males. Family planning laws are considered liberal in the region, and women have seen an increasing role in political and economic affairs over the last decade.

While Iran’s election to the Commission on the Status of Women should raise concerns if it confers legitimacy to Iran’s human rights and women’s rights record, multilateral engagement on these issues should remain a top priority. Cooperating and working with the international community can provide a path to establishing greater accountability of what is happening inside of Iran and addressing the urgent need to address women’s rights.

  • 26 September 2013
  • Posted By Mina Jafari
  • 0 Comments
  • Congress, Neo-Con Agenda, US-Iran War

Congress races to distort facts and kill Iran opening

From IranFact.org

At the UN this week, the world saw a very different exchange between the U.S. and Iran than in the past years. Iranian President Rouhani declared that Iran does not seek nuclear weapons and seeks to remove “mutual uncertainties with full transparency,” saying Iran “does not seek to increase tensions with the United States.” President Obama welcomed recent positive signals from Iran and said, “We should be able to achieve a resolution that respects the rights of the Iranian people, while giving the world confidence that the Iranian program is peaceful.”

Yet some in Congress are saying something much different. Since Rouhani and Obama’s speeches, those who are not interested in peace with Iran have been warning against any change in relations, and have often resorted to many false arguments  to maintain that Iran is a “wolf in sheep’s clothing,” to use President Netanyahu’s description of the newly elected President.

Shortly after Rouhani’s speech, during an interview with CNN, Mike Rogers (R-MI) expressed his skepticism towards further nuclear talks and demanded that Iran first end its production of “over 20% enriched uranium.” The demand was odd given that Iran is not enriching above 20%. As is well documented by the IAEA, Iran has produced only low-enriched uranium (between 3.5%-19.75% concentration). Anything beyond 20% would be news indeed, and Rogers should present his evidence to the IAEA, ASAP.

But I suspect that Rogers, as the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, has more than sufficient understanding of what levels Iran is enriching to, and merely misspoke on this point. Yet, in the same sentence, Rogers also demanded that –before any talks continue–Iran must open the Fordow plant for inspection. This again is odd. While Fordow facility may be deeply fortified against potential military strikes, there are indeed UN inspections there. The IAEA visits the Fordow plant almost weekly and knows well what is going on in there. A quick glance at any of the IAEA’s quarterly reports on Iran’s nuclear program will tell you as much. Shouldn’t the head of the House Intelligence committee be aware of these simple and well documented facts?

Meanwhile, the heads of the House Foreign Affairs Committee–Reps. Ed Royce (R-CA) and Elliot Engel (D-NY)–responded to Rouhani’s speech by setting an arbitrary deadline of 100 days for Iran to fix the nuclear issue. To put this in perspective, even Royce and Engel were unable to get sanctions legislation marked up in a committee very amendable to such bills in their first 100 days as its chairs. Yet they want Rouhani to fix all of the problems with Iran’s nuclear program in 100 days.

Then there is Senator Bennett of Colorado, who in a letter to a constituent stated, “Iran recently installed 180 advanced centrifuges at its production-scale uranium-enrichment plant in Natanz… [which] could be used to produce enriched uranium suitable for nuclear reactors.” Yes, that is in fact what centrifuges do. That’s what we want to make sure Iran is doing–instead of potentially using enriched uranium for weapons. The level of confusion on this fundamental point is embarrassing.

And then you have Ted Cruz (R-TX). Further complicating potential peace negotiations between Presidents Obama and Rouhani, the Senate’s new maverick introduced a  resolution which sets pre-conditions for such a meeting. In the text, Cruz misquotes Rouhani, claiming the Iranian President referred to Israel as a “a wound…on the body of the Muslim World.” This well documented false translation came from Iranian news sources that embellished a segment of Rouhani’s speech in which he said “Quds day […] is a day that people present the unity of Islam against any type of oppression or aggression. And in any case, in our region, it is an old wound that has been sitting on the body of the Islamic world, in the shadow of the occupation of the holy land of Palestine and the dear Quds.” He made no direct mention of Israel or Zionism–in fact, even Obama has referred to the lack of Israel-Palestine peace as a wound in the region. The misquote, however, has been exploited by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, who does not want the U.S. to fall for Rouhani’s “charm offensive” and is desperate to get back to the days when he could claim Iran wants to “wipe Israel off the map.”

Then we have legislators who are just plain freaking out. Representative Trent Franks (R-AZ) and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) are pushing for a bill which declares war on Iran. Franks even claims Iran has enough low enriched uranium that (if Iran kicked out IAEA inspectors and rapidly enriched it to weapons grade) could produce 20 nuclear bombs. I have no idea where he gets this number. The IAEA’s accounting of Iran’s total enriched uranium, according to the latest Arms Control Association brief, is that Iran has enough low enriched uranium for four bombs–though building a bomb would require many, many more steps. Franks made the exact same exaggerated claim in 2010. So by his estimate, Iran has not enriched any uranium since 2010.

These Congressional hawks apparently have no qualms taking extreme liberty with the facts, all in an unabashed effort to drag the country into another unwanted, unnecessary war.

  • 20 July 2012
  • Posted By Roshan Alemi
  • 1 Comments
  • Sanctions

Treasury’s Flawed Defense of Iran Aircraft Sanctions

Last week, the New York Times examined how sanctions that prevent Iran from purchasing Western aircraft and spare parts are hurting ordinary Iranians and have contributed to a record of over 1,700 plane crash deaths in Iran over the past decade.

David Cohen, the Treasury Department Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence–who is responsible for enforcing sanctions–disputed the article and defended the aircraft sanctions.  He wrote that Iran Air aids Iranian weapons proliferation and so is not a purely civilian airline.  He also asserted that the U.S. does allow for inspections and repairs of Iranian civilian aircraft as long as the services are performed outside of Iran.

But Cohen’s response leaves out some very important points.

Although his first point is true – Iran Air is not only a passenger airline, but also provides services to Iran’s Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics, Cohen incorrectly cites June 2011 as the date these sanctions began. In reality, Iran has been unable to purchase Western planes or parts since 1979. Due to decades of sanctions, Iran’s aging fleet of airplanes has one of the worst air safety records in the world, suffering from at least one major plane accident a year. Iranian aircraft safety is so terrible that Iran Air was banned from flying over European airspace in 2010, due to safety concerns.

Cohen’s second point is also technically true: the U.S. has “issued licenses to allow for the inspection, and in previous years also the repair, of Iran’s civilian aircraft, so long as those services were performed outside Iran so the parts and services could not be misdirected to Iran’s military aircraft.”

However, he fails to mention that, if Iran were to send planes outside of the country, it is not unreasonable to suspect that the planes would be tampered with or bugged with espionage equipment. Given the recent barrage of espionage-related activities against Iran – ranging from assassinations to computer viruses – it is no surprise that Tehran would be unwilling to allow Iranian airplanes to be inspected or repaired under U.S. auspices in a third country. Thus, Iran will likely not risk sending any planes outside of the country for inspection.

  • 17 January 2012
  • Posted By Ardavon Naimi
  • 0 Comments
  • NIAC round-up

Iran News Roundup 01/17

U.S.-Israel missile defense drill cancelled as concerns grow over Israeli attack against Iran

Senior military officials announced that the largest joint US-Israel missile defense drill has been postponed (Reuters 01/15).  Israel officially claimed this was due to budget cuts, but some U.S. and Israeli officials said the exercise was mutually postponed to not inflame tensions with Iran (Yahoo 01/16).  Still other U.S. officials expressed concerns privately that Israel had postponed the Spring exercise to clear the way for a strike on Iran, while others speculated that the exercise was cancelled by the U.S. to send a signal to Israel and Iran (IPS 01/16).

U.S. defense leaders have become increasingly concerned that Israel is preparing an attack against Iran, stepping up plans to protect U.S. facilities in the region in case. U.S. officials have been sending Israel private messages warning about the disastrous consequences of a conflict with Iran (WSJ 01/14) Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff will be visiting Israel on Thursday amidst the United States’ increasing concerns of a possible Israeli military strike on Iran (Haaretz 01/15). Additionally, Sen. George Mitchell said a case has not been made for attacking Iran (Think Progress 01/13).

UK foreign minister William Hague said that all options remain on the table regarding Iran, but said, “we are clearly not calling for or advocating military action. We are advocating meaningful negotiations, if Iran will enter into them, and the increasing pressure of sanctions to try to get some flexibility from Iran” (The Guardian 01/15).

John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman downplayed reports that the U.S. is increasing military presence in the Middle East is solely because of Iran (Reuters 01/13).

U.N. Secretary-General condemns assassination of Iranian scientists

On Friday, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was quoted as saying that “Any terrorist action or assassination of any people, whether scientist or civilian, is to be condemned. It is not acceptable. Human rights must be protected” (Reuters 01/13).

Iran’s foreign minister sent a letter to the Swiss ambassador in Tehran, which represents U.S. interests, saying Iran has evidence of U.S. involvement in the assassination of Iranian scientist Mostafa Roshan.  “We have reliable documents and evidence that this terrorist act was planned, guided and supported by the CIA,” the letter stated (Reuters 01/14).

Meanwhile, nearly a 100 scholars, academicians, and journalists have signed a petition condemning the murder of Iranian scientists.

  • 23 June 2011
  • Posted By Ali Tayebi
  • 1 Comments
  • Human Rights in Iran

Human Rights Monitor on Iran Faces Winding Path

The recent appointment of Ahmed Shaheed as the UN human rights monitor on Iran has triggered an assortment of reactions from the Iranian government regarding whether he will be allowed to visit the country for his investigation.

An international observer could interpret the varied responses as a sign of Tehran’s weakness in failing to put forward a united strategy.  Or, it could be viewed as a deliberate strategy on one of the most critical and vulnerable issues for Iran to not to have a single reaction, thus enabling Tehran to keep its options open.

The first reaction came from Iran’s parliament the day after Shaheed’s appointment. Tehran Times reported that Mohammad-Karim Abedi, Vice-Chairman of the Iranian Parliament’s Human Rights Committee, said Shaheed would not be allowed to travel to Iran, arguing that the UN Human Right Council should instead investigate “the United States, the UK and the Zionist regime” as “the greatest violators of the human rights in the world.”

  • 1 June 2011
  • Posted By NIAC
  • 0 Comments
  • Congress, Events in Iran, Human Rights in Iran, UN

Haleh Sahabi killed at father’s funeral

Haleh Sahabi, a human rights activist and women rights champion, died today in a scuffle that broke out with Iranian government security forces at her father’s funeral, Reuters reported.

Haleh was arrested for participating in protests following the 2009 election, and temporary released to attend the ceremony. Her father, Ezzatollah Sahabi (1930-2011) was a politician and former parliament member who spent about 15 years in prison before and after the Islamic revolution, and also was a member of the interim government installed after the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran.  He resigned in protest over the takeover of the US embassy in Tehran.

Iran state news agencies and Iranian officials denied that Haleh died at the hands of security forces and instead have said she died as a result of a heart attack due to the high temperatures. However, eyewitnesses, including Ayatollah Montazeri’s son and Haleh’s uncle, indicate that she was killed after being hit and punched by regime militia and they hold the regime responsible for her death.

Shirin Ebadi, in her interview with Deutsche Welle Persian, pointed out that Haleh’s death is considered a murder and can be investigated by the UN Human Rights Council.

In addition, the U.S. State Department called for an investigation into Haleh’s death.

NIAC issued a statement condemning the killing:

Haleh Sahabi’s death at the hands of Iranian government security forces marks the tragic closing of yet another chapter in Iran’s long struggle for democracy, human rights and the rule of law.  Just as her father dedicated his entire life to achieving a democratic Iran, Haleh ultimately lost her life in pursuit of this cause and, like him, died as a political prisoner.  Iran’s government must release all prisoners of conscience and end the systematic repression that has led to so much suffering in Iran but failed to diminish the Iranian people’s aspirations for a brighter future.

  • 22 June 2010
  • Posted By David Elliott
  • 5 Comments
  • Human Rights in Iran, UN

Obama’s Pursuit of Sanctions Came at Expense of Human Rights

When the United States’ efforts to pass new Iran sanctions finally came to fruition just days before the June 12 anniversary of Iran’s dubious presidential elections, some observers concluded that the new sanctions must have been a result of the Iranian government’s atrocious human rights violations.

The Obama Administration encouraged this impression, even though the sanctions push actually came at the expense of concerted action on Iran’s human rights crisis. The day after the sanctions vote Secretary Clinton declared. “The sanctions that were passed by the United Nations yesterday are designed to target those who are behind government actions that have increased human rights abuses, like the Revolutionary Guard.”

The truth is that the U.N. sanctions did not make even a passing reference to Iran’s human rights crisis. The Revolutionary Guards were sanctioned not for their appalling human rights abuses, but for their role in Iran’s nuclear program.

Indeed, the Obama Administration made a conscious decision to forgo a major push on human rights in Iran so as to not distract from the all-important UN sanctions push, according to multiple officials who’ve worked with the Administration on Iran’s human rights crisis.

Continue reading at the Huffington Post >>

  • 23 April 2010
  • Posted By Jamal Abdi
  • 3 Comments
  • Human Rights in Iran

Report: Iran’s bid for UN human rights panel seat fails

The Iranian government’s appalling human rights record will not be rewarded with a seat at the United Nations Human Rights Council, according to a report by the Politico’s Laura Rozen.  Iran has decided to no longer seek election to the Council in May, owing to behind the scenes efforts by Western states to block the bid.  Human rights activists and organizations, including the National Iranian American Council, opposed Iran’s bid to join the UN Human Rights Council.  NIAC has publicly called for a special session of the Human Rights Council to address Iran’s human rights record.

From Politico:

The failure of Iran’s bid, after aggressive lobbying in New York, African capitals (Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was in Zimbabwe this week), and elsewhere, is “a big embarrassment for them,” the official continued. It “seems to be a mark of their isolation and broad distaste for their human rights record.”

Iran’s bid to be a member of the UN rights body was strongly opposed by Iranian and global human rights activists, including by Iranian Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi who wrote a letter opposing Tehran’s bid.

  • 19 February 2010
  • Posted By Nayda Lakelieh
  • 2 Comments
  • Diplomacy, Human Rights in Iran, Iran Election 2009

Showing Repentance? 50 Prisoners Released from Evin Wednesday Night

Over the course of the past eight months, thousands of Iranians have been placed in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison; this round-up includes protesters of the fraudulent June elections, members of the media, and other political prisoners. Many of these recent detainees have been sentenced to unusually long prison sentencing, and others have even been condemned to death.   This is why it’s shocking that Radio Zamaneh reports (via payvand.com) that 50 Iranian political prisoners were released from Evin’s macabre confines on Wednesday night, albeit in most cases through temporary releases tacked with high bail amounts.

Shahabeddin Tabatabai, Islamic Iran Participation Front member and head of reformist youth in support of Mousavi and Khatami, was one of the high profile detainees which was temporarily released last night, according to Neday-e Sabz-e Azadi website.

Tabatabai, who has been sentenced to five years in prison, was released by the authorities for a period of five days on an 800-million-touman ($800,000) bail.

Member of Human Rights Reporters, Parisa Kakai, and student activist, Maziar Samii were also among the detainees released last night.

One must ponder- why the sudden unprecedented purge of prisoners? This could possibly stem from The Human Right Council’s Universal Periodic Review on Monday, in which Iran’s abysmal human rights record was put to light and Iran was chastised for their gross violation of basic human rights.

Iran’s High Council for Human Rights, Secretary General Mohammad Larijani, asserted on Monday that any allegations of human rights abuses were prompted by western critics seeking to exploit Iran’s human rights record for their own political means, rejecting all evidence that highlights Iran’s notorious human rights record. Iranian officials were uncooperative and rejected any sort of investigation surrounding Iran’s human rights record, and opposed many suggestions brought forth by the Human Rights Council.

However, Iran is expected to seek membership in the Human Rights Council in the upcoming May Council elections; thus, this could be one possible reason for the sudden release of prisoners on Wednesday night. The purge could also be an attempt to appease protesters, especially following the crackdown on the February 11th protests, and the chokehold Iran is imposing within its borders.  Or, perhaps Tehran really has taken to heart the suggestions brought forth by the council Monday, and is on the path to legitimately better their human rights record. The latter is far less plausible, and Iran feigning an improvement in its approach to basic human rights within its borders would be unsurprising, unlike the sudden release of prisoners.

Sign the Petition

 

7,349 signatures

Tell Google: Stop playing Persian Gulf name games!

May 14, 2012
Larry Page
Chief Executive Officer
Google Inc.
1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Mountain View, California 94043

Dear Mr. Page:

It has come to our attention that Google has begun omitting the title of the Persian Gulf from its Google Maps application. This is a disconcerting development given the undisputed historic and geographic precedent of the name Persian Gulf, and the more recent history of opening up the name to political, ethnic, and territorial disputes. However unintentionally, in adopting this practice, Google is participating in a dangerous effort to foment tensions and ethnic divisions in the Middle East by politicizing the region’s geographic nomenclature. Members of the Iranian-American community are overwhelmingly opposed to such efforts, particularly at a time when regional tensions already have been pushed to the brink and threaten to spill over into conflict. As the largest grassroots organization in the Iranian-American community, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) calls on Google to not allow its products to become propaganda tools and to immediately reinstate the historically accurate, apolitical title of “Persian Gulf” in all of its informational products, including Google Maps.

Historically, the name “Persian Gulf” is undisputed. The Greek geographer and astronomer Ptolemy referencing in his writings the “Aquarius Persico.” The Romans referred to the "Mare Persicum." The Arabs historically call the body of water, "Bahr al-Farsia." The legal precedent of this nomenclature is also indisputable, with both the United Nations and the United States Board of Geographic Names confirming the sole legitimacy of the term “Persian Gulf.” Agreement on this matter has also been codified by the signatures of all six bordering Arab countries on United Nations directives declaring this body of water to be the Persian Gulf.

But in the past century, and particularly at times of escalating tensions, there have been efforts to exploit the name of the Persian Gulf as a political tool to foment ethnic division. From colonial interests to Arab interests to Iranian interests, the opening of debate regarding the name of the Persian Gulf has been a recent phenomenon that has been exploited for political gain by all sides. Google should not enable these politicized efforts.

In the 1930s, British adviser to Bahrain Sir Charles Belgrave proposed to rename the Persian Gulf, “Arabian Gulf,” a proposal that was rejected by the British Colonial and Foreign offices. Two decades later, the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company resurrected the term during its dispute with Mohammad Mossadegh, the Iranian Prime Minister whose battle with British oil interests would end in a U.S.-sponsored coup d'état that continues to haunt U.S.-Iran relations. In the 1960s, the title “Arabian Gulf” became central to propaganda efforts during the Pan-Arabism era aimed at exploiting ethnic divisions in the region to unite Arabs against non-Arabs, namely Iranians and Israelis. The term was later employed by Saddam Hussein to justify his aims at territorial expansion. Osama Bin Laden even adopted the phrase in an attempt to rally Arab populations by emphasizing ethnic rivalries in the Middle East.

We have serious concerns that Google is now playing into these efforts of geographic politicization. Unfortunately, this is not the first time Google has stirred controversy on this topic. In 2008, Google Earth began including the term “Arabian Gulf” in addition to Persian Gulf as the name for the body of water. NIAC and others called on you then to stop using this ethnically divisive propaganda term, but to no avail. Instead of following the example of organizations like the National Geographic Society, which in 2004 used term “Arabian Gulf” in its maps but recognized the error and corrected it, Google has apparently decided to allow its informational products to become politicized.

Google should rectify this situation and immediately include the proper name for the Persian Gulf in Google Maps and all of its informational products. The exclusion of the title of the Persian Gulf diminishes your applications as informational tools, and raises questions about the integrity and accuracy of information provided by Google.

We strongly urge you to stay true to Google’s mission – “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” – without distorting or politicizing that information. We look forward to an explanation from you regarding the recent removal of the Persian Gulf name from Google Maps and call on you to immediately correct this mistake.

Sincerely,

[signature]

Share this with your friends: