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Iran post-nuclear deal: Killing spree continues

Iran, Nuclear Deal, Centrifuges
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The ruling theocracy in Iran executed 93 individuals in one week this past month, and no one cried out. According to opposition sources, between April 12 and April 18, Iran executed 65 individuals, many in secret. The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) also reported that as many as 200 individuals are currently on death row in Karaj Prison, west of Tehran. 

Iran not only leads the world in per capita executions, but it is on pace to break its own record for executions in one year. What is particularly troubling is that these atrocities are being completely ignored by the international community and Western media.
According to the Iran Human Rights Documentation center, the regime executed 721 individuals in 2014. Now, one third of the way into 2015, it has reached almost half that amount at 342, and could top 1,000 executions by the end of this year. 

{mosads}The executions have also been coupled with renewed repression against opponents of the regime, most notably targeting political activists and ethnic minorities. In fact, the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights, Ahmad Shaheed, has noted that under the so-called “moderate” President Hassan Rouhani “the overall situation has worsened.” 

Many opposition activists have alleged that the regime uses its war on drugs as a cover to crack down on dissent. The regime levies charges against opponents under drug laws in an attempt to besmirch their credibility. Former UN rapporteurs on Iran have documented examples of dissidents being executed as drug traffickers. Yet, the regime receives millions in funding from the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) with no strings attached, while it carries out these barbaric executions.   

The political climate of repression and censorship in Iran, coupled with lack of due process in the judiciary, create severe difficulties in finding the truth behind Iran’s executions. However one thing is certain: the regime continues to use the death penalty, not as a deterrent to drug abuse, but as a means of inflicting terror in a young and increasing restless and enraged population. The most recent example of citizens’ rage was the uprising in the northwestern town of Mahabad in early May, where thousands braved arrest and imprisonment and came out in force to protest the suspicious death of a 25-year-old female hotel employee, whom an Iranian regime’s intelligence official had tried to assault.  

There seems to be little interest in these stories, however. Instead, we are left with whimsical articles which claim that now that the nuclear deal has been reached, Iran can “focus on human rights.” 

Yet this misses a very simple but crucial point about how politics works in Iran. This isn’t about Hassan Rouhani building up political clout so as to enact change. His approval of these barbaric hangings notwithstanding, there is no room for reform in a constitution with a non-representative “Supreme Leader,” and a judiciary that executed 30,000 political prisoners in a matter of months in 1988 alone. Ironically, Mostafa Pourmohammadi, one of the three people who sat on the “death commission” that sent these political prisoners, mostly MEK members, to the gallows, is Hassan Rouhani’s Justice Minister.  

If the recent killings are any evidence of what a “post-nuclear deal” Iran looks like as far as human rights are concerned, then it is safe to assume that, as morally unconscionable as it is, human rights in Iran will continue to be sacrificed at the altar of negotiations with Tehran. Congress has a role to play to hold the clerics accountable for their rights violations. No sanctions relief is justified for a regime responsible for 120,000 political executions and imprisonment and torture of thousands more. 

On April 29, Maryam Rajavi, NCRI’s President-elect testified before House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Terrorism, non-Proliferation, and Trade and asked Congress to address Tehran’s nuclear threat and human rights abuses equally. “Acquiring a nuclear arsenal, abusing human rights, and exporting fundamentalism and terrorism are indispensable features of the ruling theocracy,” Mrs. Rajavi said, adding, “Upholding human rights in Iran and forcing the regime to withdraw from Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, and Afghanistan offer a real yardstick to ascertain whether or not the regime has abandoned its nuclear weapons program. Anything short, however camouflaged or presented, amounts to self-delusion and acquiesces to the catastrophe of a nuclear-armed theocracy.”  

Samsami is the representative in the United States for the National Council of Resistance of Iran, which seeks the establishment of a democratic, secular and non-nuclear Iran.


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