Iran: From human rights violations to dangerous meddling

From day one the regime of Iran has been based on the pillars of domestic crackdown, and exporting terrorism and a reactionary, religious mentality.

As we speak, spreading extremism and Islamic fundamentalism remains a cornerstone policy of Iran’s state-run strategy, all hacked into this regime’s constitution.

The real image

Earlier this year Amnesty International’s 94-page report, “Caught in a web of repression: Iran’s human rights defenders under attack,” detailed this regime’s drastic human rights violations, with a specific focus on its extensive overdose of executions.

As witnessed for years running, Iran is the world’s leading executioner per capita, with many hangings continuously and horrendously carried out in public. All the while, secret executions are ongoing in dungeons across the country, including Tehran’s infamous Evin Prison.

This is the real image of Iran, cloaked by the ruling regime and their appeasers in the West for years, who continue to portray Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani as a moderate worth dealing with.

ANALYSIS: Does the Middle East’s stability hinge on Iran’s expulsion?

Rouhani heads a corrupt system responsible for executing around 3,500 people, and counting, from 2013 to this day. 350 such counts have been registered this year alone.

Iran lacks anything even remotely comparable to a justice system and the current Justice Minister, Alireza Avaie, has been on numerous terrorist lists since 2011 for human rights violations.

Avaie is also known to have played a leading role in the 1988 massacre of over 30,000 political prisoners, consisting of mostly members and supporters of Iran’s main opposition, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK).

Nursing home

Iran is the godfather of human rights violations and terrorism, known as the main source of systematic human rights violations and expanding conflicts across the region.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), and the Quds Force, responsible for the IRGC’s extraterritorial operations, led by Qassem Suleimani, famed for his ruthlessness, are the main parties responsible for Iran’s internal repression, and mainly, aggressively expanding Iran’s influence throughout the Middle East.

For decades the IRGC has been responsible for terrorist attacks in this flashpoint corner of the globe, including the countries of SyriaIraqLebanon and Yemen. In this regard, Tehran’s continuing practice of being the nursing home of proxy extremist groups is no matter of dispute or questioning.

What Iran has maintained a lid on has been its close collaboration with terror elements. For decades, the world has been deceived – conveniently for and by Iran – into believing that significant differences exist between Sunnis and Shiites, and thus cancelling any possibility of Tehran having links with its Sunni rivals.

Tehran has usurped this window of opportunity to portray itself and claim to be a de facto ally of the West in the fight against extremism, especially recently in the form of ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Discussions in Washington are ongoing over how the US military, short of a direct conflict, can deter and contain Iran’s meddling in Middle East countries. The Pentagon has refrained from public comments.

One official familiar with the mentality of US Secretary of Defense James Mattis has hinted to the media that Iran is the focus of much attention in the Pentagon recently.

Last week Secretary of State Rex Tillerson chaired a meeting between the US, UK, France and Germany to blueprint US-European collaboration aimed at countering Iran through the course of diplomatic and economic practices. Other senior Trump administration officials have also resorted to significant remarks.

“What the Iranians have done across the broader Middle East is fuel and accelerate these cycles of violence so that they can take advantage of these chaotic environments, take advantage of weak states, to make them dependent on them for support,” US National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster said to a security forum last weekend.

“We have to address what is a growing Iranian capability and an ability to use proxies, militias, terrorist organizations to advance their aim, their hegemonic aims in the region,” McMaster added.

This file photo taken on May 15, 2003 shows Yemeni ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh (L) welcoming former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami at Sanaa International Airport. (AFP)

 

Game-changing revelations

Newly released documents obtained by US special forces in their raid on the residence of the now dead al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Pakistan prove what many scholars have argued for years.

Iran’s regime, known as the beating heart of Islamic fundamentalism, has never considered sectarian differences an obstacle to cooperate with extremists. Tehran seeks to strengthen its resolve in the objective of furthering influence and global support for fundamentalism and terrorism.

These documents prove how the Iranian regime was working closely with al-Qaeda, including bin Laden himself, which could have subsequently led to Tehran’s inevitable cooperation with ISIS.

Iran’s rulers, and their cohorts spread in various countries, seek the same objective of establishing a ruthless caliphate by deploying global jihad. This practice hinges on unbridled brutality, misogyny and immorality to its utmost extent. No limits in barbarity and viciousness is accepted by these parties in their effort to reach their objectives.

Further reports are emerging detailing the growing amount of ties linking the regime in Iran with extremists groups, such as al-Qaeda and ISIS. New evidence confirms how despite the existence of various factions of extremist groups such as the Taliban, al-Qaeda and ISIS, at the end of the day, they all look at Tehran as the main source fueling this infamous mentality.

Flashpoint Yemen

Iran’s support for the Houthis in Yemen has escalated and gained much attention recently. For example, a missile launched by the Houthis on November 4 was strikingly similar to an Iranian-made Qiam-1 short-range ballistic missile, added to its collection by Iran in 2010, and yet never before seen in Yemen’s missile arsenal, according to a confidential report prepared by a UN panel of experts missioned to monitor a 2015 arms embargo imposed on Yemen.

One component — a device, known to be an actuator, used to assist in steering the missile — was found among the debris bearing a metal logo of an Iranian company, Shadi Bagheri Industrial Group, known to be the subject of UN, EU, and US sanctions.

The Houthis “obtained access to missile technology more advanced” than what they had prior to the conflict’s birth in 2015, according to the panel report.

“The design, characteristics and dimensions of the components inspected by the panel are consistent with those reported for the Iranian manufactured Qiam-1 missile,” the text adds.

Serious measures

The dangerous nature of Iran’s regime is obvious to all. Parallel to military and terrorist measures throughout the globe, Tehran targets naïve and vulnerable subjects, using them to relay their reactionary mentality. This includes the various Western parliaments and significant international bodies, including UN and EU institutions. Tehran’s demonization agendas have shown to be predecessors to violent attacks.

Only serious measures against Iran’s regime, and ultimately the collapse of this ruthless entity, will mark the end of Iran’s human rights violations, and meddling and support for terrorism being spread deceivingly under the flag of Islam.

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Iran’s increasing meddling abroad is not a policy signaling this regime’s strength. In fact, facing deep domestic crises, Tehran is attempting to cloak its internal weakness by increasing its influence across the region on the one hand, and resorting to saber-rattling to prevent the international community from adopting a firm policy.

Iran entered negotiations and succumbed to curbing its nuclear program due to fears of uncontrollable uprisings resulting from crippling international sanctions. This is the language Iran understands and more major sanctions are needed against this regime.

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The Truth About Iran’s Evin Prison

Two months have passed since the May presidential “elections” in Iran that saw the incumbent Hassan Rouhani reach a second term. The pro-Iran appeasement camp in the West went the distance to raise hopes over the hoax of Rouhani rendering major reforms.

These voices somehow described Rouhani as a “reformist” and completely neglected the over 3,000 executions during his first term as president. Reports from across the country are turning out to be very disturbing, signaling more troubling times to come in reference to human rights violations.

As fellow Forbes contributor Ellen R. Wald reported, “On July 16, news came out that an American graduate student at Princeton University named Xiyue Wang had been sentenced to 10 years in an Iranian prison for ‘espionage.’”

This is Iran again resorting to old tactics of taking Westerners as hostage, mainly dual citizens, to be used as bargaining chips in advancing objectives and politics in negotiations with interlocutors.

Another practice the regime in Tehran will continue is sending scores to the gallows. The Iranian opposition National Council of Resistance of Iran issued a report recently indicating 57 individuals have been executed across Iran in the beginning of July alone.

Reports from inside Iran also indicate nearly 120 inmates held in a prison west of Tehran are on the verge of execution. These hangings are planned for the next few weeks, their families say citing authorities, and the sentences of at least 13 individuals are to be implemented soon.

These alarming reports have all arrived only after a recent tour launched by the mullahs for dozens of foreign ambassadors to visit the notorious Evin Prison located in the hilltops of northern Tehran.

But of course, no human rights organization or international prison expert were invited, only selected areas of the prison were shown, and merely hand-picked images were provided to the media to depict a highly peaceful environment and go against any claims of rights violations.

This PR show in Evin, with its history of atrocities, was coupled with Iranian state media outlets pumping reports claiming the jail being upgraded to state-of-the-art conditions.

Iranian authorities went the distance to showcase specific facilities provided only to rich inmates behind bars for financial crimes. These areas included a gym, an in-house beauty salon, a library and also a restaurant.

What needs clarification to the outside world is the fact that Evin, along with many other prisons, has a dark history of widespread executions, tortures, and inhumane and unbearable conditions, to say the least. The regime in Iran, with a track record of 63 UN condemnations of human rights violations, is hardly in any position to claim of providing inmates with adequate conditions.

If Iran truly intends to be transparent, why not begin permitting all international human rights organizations unlimited access to any and all areas of each and every single prison across the country?

Following this orchestrated tour, Human Rights Watch made a call to Tehran seeking access for rights groups to these prisons. HRW is among many similar entities seeking access to Evin as the facility has been closed to human rights investigators representing independent international and national organizations.

While there is no expectation for Iran to begin allowing any honest visits, two female political prisoners wrote an open letter explaining the atrocities they endured in Evin.

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Golrokh Iraee and Atena Daemi

Political prisoners Golrokh Iraee and Atena Daemi described ”solitary cells with no windows, ventilation and lavatory,” “dungeons and dark interrogation rooms,” and “cells known as graves” in Evin.

Why did this international delegation not visit the women’s ward of Evin where female political prisoners like themselves are held, they asked. Their letter goes on to explain how ward 4 of this prison was renovated by the inmates transferred to solitary confinement on the very day of the ambassadors’ visit.

Mrs. Maryam Akbari Monfared, another political prisoner whose three brothers and sister were executed during the 1988 massacre of over 30,000 political prisoners across Iran, also wrote an extensive open letter as she spends her eighth year behind bars in Evin. Having experienced a variety of Iran’s jails for decades, Monfared wrote, “I’ve witnessed with my own eyes the devaluation of human and humanity” and experienced atrocities also in Shahre-Ray and Gohardasht prisons.

“Prison food was so little that hungry inmates were forced to collect the residue of other food trays as well as the food which was left on the ground,” she explains.

“I saw an eleven-year-old girl who was sent into exile from a children correction center to Gohardasht prison so as to be punished… Women and girls who had repeatedly felt the hanging rope around their necks, being on death row for years… Dear ambassadors, who were surprised by what you saw! What you saw was a made-up face of this religious regime’s prisons… I saw inmates on death row in Share-Ray prison, desperately begging their families to talk their judges into implementing their death sentence sooner, as they didn’t wish to stay alive in prison…”

What needs reminding here is the fact this is a regime founded by the ultraconservative Ruhollah Khomeini who, as the first supreme leader of Iran, authorized the amputation of hands and feet as punishment for thieves.

All this is more reason for the international community, and especially the Trump administration, to turn up the heat on Iran. The regime in Tehran is resorting to all measures possible to deceive Washington and other parties to delay the blacklisting of the Revolutionary Guards as a major party involved in the mullahs’ crimes against humanity, terrorism and international belligerence.

In 2009 former US president Barack Obama betrayed universal humane values and chose to side with the mullahs’ regime. And Tehran responded by continuously taking Americans hostage and now putting a show for the Europeans and others.

Taking strong action against Tehran, similar to the recent sanctions slapped against 18 entities involved with Iran’s support for terrorism and ballistic missile program, will finally signal to the Iranian people that the world has now decided to stand by their side.

The Story Of Rahele Zakaie: Another Woman Perished In Iran

Following International Women’s Day on March 8, the plight of Iranian women to finally obtain the freedom and rights they deserve continues. This struggle is resembled in the case of each and every Iranian women.

News of Rahele Zakaie’s death means nothing to many people. Another human being amongst the 7.5 billion now roaming the earth. She died of cancer.

However, her loss brought much sorrow to those women who in recent years were and have been detained in the political prisoners’ ward of Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison, those who shared moments of joy and tears with Rahele.

She had a strange story, with many years behind bars. Thirteen years of her short life she spent in prison for theft and drug-related crimes. She was a drug addict who got clean several times, and despite spending many years behind bars, others’ fondness of her never waned.

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Iranian women inmates sit at their cell in Evin jail, north of Tehran, June 2006. (ATTA KENARE/AFP/Getty Images)

Rahele, a girl from Mashhad in northwest Iran, was acquainted with crime at an early age due to poverty and her family’s background in such a lifestyle. When she was only 11 years old, her uncles used her as cover for an armed robbery. At 13 she was sent off to live with a man who was killed some time later during an armed robbery, leaving behind a 1-year-old boy. At 16, Rahele was put behind bars for theft and drug-related charges.

This was the beginning of her painful in-and-out experience from this to that prison, from interrogation to solitary confinement. She once even claimed responsibility for the narcotics found in the belongings of her friend to save her from being executed. Iran is known to execute several hundred people each year for drug-related charges, a practice condemned by Amnesty International. What Rahele considered the “price of friendship” cost her 10 ruthless years behind bars.

She always dreamed of protecting her son and worried of the fate of her sister’s five-year-old daughter, wanting a better life for her. The little girl’s father had been executed and her mother committed suicide. Rahele wanted to take care of these kids and also support her younger twin brother and sister. She was deprived of any visits and worked long hours in Sari Prison’s doll shop to pay for her son’s mobile phone charges.

However, like many others, the events of 2009 changed Rahele’s life. When prisons were filled with female political prisoners with no means to phone their families, Rahele would make these calls for them. The authorities had accused her of having contact with prisoners related to the Iranian opposition People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK).

During this period she yearned to learn and craved to become a human rights advocate. She quit drugs once again and devoted her time to reading books.

She longed to write her life story and especially the tales of women in various prisons across the country. She once wrote a two-part report about Gharchak Prison, located southeast of Tehran, published in the Focus on Iranian Women website.

She continued her writing about the prisons she had experienced, in Mashhd, Sabzevar, Ghezel Hesar and Evin, describing the horrible spread of skin diseases and inmates using contaminated needles for drug injections. Reading Rahele’s writing demands strong tolerance, like when she talks about the “Mothers’ Ward” in Mashhad’s Vakil Abad Prison, where in each room you see a grieving mother with two little children…

Yet as Rahele explains, no prison was as atrocious as Qarchak. She always wanted to write a book about the place, where each corner contained another nightmare.

Diarrhea and blood vomiting is common. I used to cry all night until morning because of the cold. The cold would literally kill you.”

Prison authorities would kick me hard in the chest during the period that I was breastfeeding my child. I was beaten many times. In the first six months I wasn’t allowed to shower. During these six months I had six periods. When you are repeatedly beaten and tortured, the bleeding is unstoppable. All of my clothes were filled with sh*t and dried blood. After six months I literally cried and begged for a 15-minute shower. I was so happy that I was even smelling that water.”

She also endured much torture.

I was blindfolded and chained to a chair. They beat me so long that I could barely walk. Mr. Monfared grabbed my chest so hard that I fainted of pain. One cannot imagine the horror until they actually experienced it.”

A journalist who spent some time behind bars with Rahele wrote about her:

Despite all the pain she had experienced in her childhood and being behind bars, she was always full of life and loved to learn. She wanted to go to school, learn English and computers. The joy of life was the first thing you saw in Rahele’s eyes. During the little time she had, she would go to the library and had read nearly all the books. This was what made Rahele different for me. Nine years have passed, but she is still in my heart.”

They say Rahele started using drugs time and again to relieve her of the pains, and time and again she quit to start life all over again.

During the short periods of furlough, she would try to contact me to provide news about events inside the prison. She would go to see the families of political prisoners and reassure them that their loved ones were okay. She had come to learn about human rights activities and sought to follow up on these matters. In prison she attempted to gather signatures for a million-signature petition. Rahele didn’t just think about herself. She liked to change the world around her.”

Was Rahele diagnosed with cancer early on?

No. There is no decent medical care or diagnosis in prison. Her cancer was most probably diagnosed at a very late stage, as she passed away soon afterwards. I know she also suffered from dialysis in her last days.”

Rahele is described as different from those in the prison ward.

All the inmates in that ward had common background. They were either human rights advocates or journalists. However, Rahele was from another world. She was a different person from a different atmosphere, with a different language. Maybe that’s why she has remained in the memory of so many.”

Rahele had spent 13 years behind bars and was released on bail in the summer of 2014. She was ordered to live under internal exile for two years in the city of Isfahan, in south-central Iran.

“I will become a new person,” she would say.

She always yearned for freedom. Many nights when she fell asleep dreaming about freedom. However, the cancer had spread and stole her last breath on February 17.

Unfortunately, Iran under the mullahs’ regime is riddled with such painful stories of women across this ancient land. Of those unjustly jailed, tortured and executed, those suffering with faces and bodies scarred with lifelong wounds of acid attacks, and the millions enduring enormous hardships through the course of 38 years of the mullahs’ atrocious and misogynist rule.

Humanity must pledge to bring an end to all the wrongs being imposed against women, especially in countries such as Iran. The 21st century is no place for such continuing atrocities.

Originally published in Forbes