U.S State Department: Deteriorating human rights in Iran U.S. chief priority
Azerbaijan, Baku, June 2 / Trend T. Konyayeva /
The deteriorating human rights situation in Iran continues to be a priority for the U.S.
Washington is concerned about constant violations of local and foreign citizens' rights by the Iranian government, the U.S. State Department official said.
"The deteriorating human rights situation in Iran continues to be a priority for the U.S., a U.S. State Department official who wished to remain anonymous told Trend in an exclusive interview. In sharp contrast to the activities in Tahrir Square in Cairo and throughout the region Iran has really laid bare its hypocrisy."
In early 2011 UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said that the human rights situation in Iran has deteriorated since December 2010. Repressions against human rights defenders, women's rights activists, journalists and opposition representatives have been strengthened.
The resolution on appointing a special rapporteur on the human rights situation in Iran was adopted at the 16th Session of the Human Rights Council (HRC) of the UN European branch in Geneva on March 24. The Council members expressed concern about intensifying the repression in the country and expressed regret at the lack of cooperation from Iranian authorities.
The resolution was supported by 22 members of the Council. Seven countries, including Russia and China, voted against it. Fourteen abstained. The members of the Human Rights Council called on Tehran to fully cooperate with the special rapporteur and to allow him entrance into the country.
In response, Iran called the decision on introducing the post of special rapporteur as "politicized" and adopted under U.S. pressure.
Members of the Iranian parliament's Committee on National Security and Foreign Policy condemned the UN resolution, stating that "the UNHRC endorses a resolution at a time when mass murder continues in Bahrain."
The U.S is proud to be working with Sweden, Panama, Zambia, Moldova, the Maldives, Bosnia, Australia, New Zealand, and many other partners to establish a special rapporteur in Iran.
"The rapporteur's mandate would be to investigate the human rights situation in Iran," the official said. "Iranian human rights advocates have urged this step to draw attention to the ongoing abuses and raise international pressure against their government."
The official said that Iran applauds universal rights of others in the region but continues to suppress its own people, by inducing mass arrests and killing those who verbally oppose the regime.
"The Iranian leadership is out of touch and its narrative of exporting the Islamic revolution has been discredited across the region, as well as within Iran," the official said.
The U.S is also extremely concerned about the rights of American citizens who have been unjustly detained or who have gone missing in Iran, the official said.
"The U.S., international partners, and human rights defenders around the world have all repeatedly called on Iran to release Shane Bauer and Joshua Fattal and all other detained Americans," the official said.
Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd and Josh Fattal were arrested while hiking along the Iraq-Iran border area on 31 July 2009. The exact circumstances of their arrest remain unclear, but the Iranian authorities have charged them with espionage and illegal entry.
One of the U.S. citizens arrested was Sarah Shourd, the only female. She was released on bail in September 2010. Bauer and Fattal have been held at Tehran's Evin Prison.
The next hearing was scheduled for May 1 but Iran's judicial authorities decided to postpone their trial.
U.S concerns about the Iranian government's human rights violations extend to the country's treatment of its own citizens as well, the official said.
"Since the deeply flawed June 2009 elections in Iran, we have seen a surge in the large-scale detentions and mass trials, political executions, secret executions, the intimidation of the oppositions' family members, lawyers, and journalists, and the refusal to extend Iranian citizens the right to peaceful assembly and expression outlined in Iran's own constitution," the official said. "We're on the side of all Iranians who are seeking to exercise their basic human rights."
In 2009, the powerful opposition unrest broke out in Tehran after the announcement of the results of the presidential election held on June 12. The election was won by the current President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. One of the losing candidates - reformer Mir Hussein Mousavi - accused authorities of rigging the voting results and called upon people to hold protests.
According to official figures, the clashes killed 20 people. The unofficial count was near 150 deaths. About 1,032 demonstrators were arrested, most of whom were subsequently released.
Iran's government accused Western countries of deliberately escalating tensions in the country, initiating riots, and interfering in the internal affairs of the country after the June 12 presidential elections.
In September 2010 the U.S. imposed sanctions against an entire group of senior Iranian officials with the wording "for consistent and serious violations of human rights" in accordance with U.S President Barack Obama's decision.
The list of ten people charged with these crimes includes the head of the Revolutionary Guards, the former interior minister and the prosecutor general. All of them are suspected of organizing murders and beatings of anti-government demonstrations which were held in Iran in June 2009.
"Any financial assets held in the U.S. belonging to anyone on the list and remaining in the United States will be frozen," U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said at a press-conference in Washington. "U.S. citizens and companies are prohibited from entering into any business relationship with them."
In signing this executive order, the President sent the message that the United States stands for the universal rights of all people, the official said.
Other diplomatic tools we use to draw attention to Iran's appalling human rights record include: high-level statements that spotlight Iran's human rights abuses; our work at the UN Human Rights Council and other international forums; our annual Country Report on Human Rights Practices in Iran and the International Religious Freedom report; and encouraging other countries and non-governmental organizations to speak out publicly and regularly to condemn the human rights situation in Iran, the official said.
"The State Department provides capacity-building training and new media tools to help Iranian civil society make its voice heard in calling for greater freedoms, accountability, transparency, and rule of law from the Iranian government," the official said.
"Our responsibility is, and will remain, to stand up for those rights which are universal to all human beings," the official said. "In this, we are joined by many other nations around the world."