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Speakers at Geneva conference on the situation of human rights in Iran

Families of Victims and International Experts Speak About Iranian Human Rights in Geneva

Speakers at Geneva conference on the situation of human rights in Iran

The panel of speakers at the Geneva conference on the situation of human rights in Iran-March 7, 2019

On Thursday, March 7, the Iranian opposition gathered in Geneva for a conference on the Iranian regime’s human rights record throughout 2018. The Iranian people have endured four decades of regime rule. They have suffered barbaric and violent human rights abuses. But now they are making their voices heard and taking to the streets to say, ‘enough is enough’.

Ongoing Abuses

A recent Amnesty International report confirmed that the regime has arrested more than 7,000 members of the Iranian opposition over the past year, many being charged for their affiliation to the People’s Mujahedin Organisation of Iran (MEK), the largest of the Iranian opposition groups.

Remy Pagani, a Swiss politician, opened the conference by decrying these arrests. He told those gathered that “it is time that democracy moves forward, and human rights are respected in Iran.”

An Outraged Population

The Iranian people are doing all they can to move democracy forward. Protests break out across the country daily. Most recently, Iran’s teachers demonstrated over unpaid wages and the unlawful arrests of their peers. “After 40 years of clerical dictatorship, 80 million Iranians have had enough,” former Member of the European Parliament for Scotland, Struan Stevenson said, “men and women, students, truck drivers… have taken to the streets in protest against [the] fascist mullahs’ regime.”

Aside from rampant human rights abuses, the economic decline caused by the mullahs’ mismanagement of Iran’s finances is galvanizing the population. Iran’s middle-class is shrinking. Inflation has skyrocketed. Iranian purchasing power has dropped dramatically, and many workers now struggle to make ends meet.

When Parviz Khazai addressed the conference, he criticized the mullahs’ wasteful spending that brought about the economic collapse of Iran. “The regime is at war with its own people but also at war against [the] Lebanese… it supports dictators, spending Iranian assets in the war against [the] people of the region and elsewhere,” he said.

At War With Its Own People

Khazai’s words couldn’t be more accurate. The regime has conducted a war against its own population. It is one of the most repressive states on earth and routinely tortures, hangs, and gouges out the eyes of its own population.

In 1988, the regime executed 30,000 members of the MEK and the Iranian opposition. Death squads rounded up dissidents and marched them to the gallows. Amnesty International recently released a report on the massacre, but it has been overlooked by the international community and the UN in recent years. This has been an ongoing issue, one that the Iranian opposition and their allies are calling to amend.

Taher Bumedra of the MEK said on the subject, “we hope the new rapporteur will continue to work on this issue and his next report will include this crime against humanity perpetrated by the mullahs’ regime in 1988.”

Inaction Only Emboldens the Regime

All the speakers were in agreement that inaction over the regime’s human rights abuses, including the 1988 massacre, only serves to embolden the regime and continue their crimes. Bumedra added,

“if the UN does not take action on the massacres that took place in Iran, that will encourage the regime to continue its behavior.”

Waiting for the regime to investigate itself is not an option. Many of those involved in the 1988 massacre now hold senior positions in Rouhani’s government, including the head of the judiciary, which only serves to compound the trauma the families of the 1988 victims carry with them.

Alfred de Zayas, a former UN independent expert on democracy and equitable international order, called for an investigation into the crimes. He said the “mullahs should not have impunity.”

Women Bear the Brunt of the Regime’s Crimes

Today, women are among those that suffer most under the regime. In Geneva, Simin Nouri, the President of the Association of Iranian Women in France, shed light on the plight of Iranian women. She said 30 million women across the country now live in poverty, many of which are forced to turn to prostitution to make money to survive.

Because of this, women are at the forefront of the protests against the regime. They are an integral part of the Iranian resistance. Nouri said, “regime authorities have confessed that the main triggers to protests have been women rejecting all powers in the regime and its corruption and expansionism.”

Despite routine harassment, arbitrary arrest, and torture, the brave men and women of Iran continue to take to the streets to protest this vile and abhorrent regime. Nouri called on the international community to “support morally and physically the protestors in Iran.”

Abandoning the Most Vulnerable

Among all the regime’s deplorable acts, few are as violent and merciless as its treatment of Iran’s children. Victims are executed for crimes they committed as children, under the age of 18 and public executions leave young Iranians traumatized. Sahar Sanaie drew attention to their situation. She said, “children experience daily humiliation of their mothers and other women of their family.” Schools teach young girls they are inferior.

Later in the conference, the families of those executed at the hands of the regime were given the floor. They told heart-wrenching details about how 16-year-old and 18-year-old family members were executed for nothing more than holding political beliefs that differed from those of the mullahs.

One family member, Sima Mirzaie, said, “it is 40 years that my and other families have [had] no rest. We ask the UN to bring the perpetrators to be tried. It is our legal right to know what transpired with our loved ones.”

This brutal regime cannot be permitted to carry out these crimes without consequence and punishment. It is up to all of us to be the voice of those who have been killed by the regime and add our calls to those calling on the UN to launch a full investigation into the crimes of 1988, and those more recently. Without it, Iranian families will continue to struggle, not knowing what happened to their loved ones.

Staff Writer

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