The following Editorial is contributed by Kaveh Taheri, an Iranian dissident and refugee in Turkey, who reports on areas of high concern in the Iranian government and the Middle East.
The Iranian regime heavily punishes those who criticize its violations of human rights. Since the inception of the Islamic Republic in 1979, Iranians have been victims of the government’s human rights abuses. Mass arrests, long prison terms and the death penalty are used as common procedures of discipline in Iran.
Aside from persecuting people inside the country, the Iranian government also jeopardizes global security, especially in the Middle East, by empowering extremist groups in the region.
Although the sanctions placed enormous pressures on Iranians, it is years of internal government corruption, mismanagement, and neglect that has crippled Iran’s economy. In 2015, six global powers broke the Iranian regime’s chains by signing a nuclear deal, taking into little consideration what implications the deal would have on global security and stability. The deal pours billions of dollars into the regime’s bank accounts, money that is not spent on enriching Iranian civil society but rather on enriching the repressive regime and its allies, including Hezbollah and Bashar al-Assad.
In the past year, approximately 4,400 clothing shops were closed for selling merchandise deemed un-Islamic by Iran’s morality police. 2,012 men have been jailed for failing to pay dowries. More than 9.7 million of the total 13 million laborers in Iran are living under the poverty line. At least 6,281 individuals have been imprisoned for alleged financial crimes. The Head of Education in Kerman, Iran, indicates that there are at least 60 tent schools in his province, and 800 schools do not have sufficient equipment and supplies. Additionally, 500 schools need renovation in the Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad provinces. 48 villages with more than 20 families are being deprived of drinking water in Lorestan Province, the governor says. At least 1,850 laborers died as a result of unsafe workplace conditions in the last six months, deputy of the Ministry of Labor and Welfare says. At least 22,000 babies die annually in Iran because of the mother’s unawareness of baby care, the deputy of the Ministry of Health says. 60% of Tehran’s sewage enters into agricultural lands, an MP says.
Due to the ban on alcohol in Iran, alcohol sale in Iran’s black market is abundant. And, Iranian experts suggest that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) plays a central role in the import of illegal goods. Iranian forensic officials recently said that in the last five months, the IRGC and Iranian police forces shot dead or injured at least 53 Kolbars (those who make a living and survive, by carrying goods across the borders on their back) in the Kurdish regions of Iran. Additionally, at least 100 deaths are recorded annually due to the consumption of alcohol in Iran. Similarly to alcohol, local sources say that narcotics are distributed in Iranian society through the IRGC’s cooperation. In Iran’s Kahrizak Prison alone, there are 800 women, including 10 mothers with kids as young as two, who are detained on drug-related charges. Also, at least 2,000 women, including mothers and kids, have been jailed in Women Gharchak prison, according to HRANA. In recent months, there has been a reported increase in deaths in Iran due to the consumption of opium that was contaminated with lead. Local sources have expressed worry that the IRGC may be involved in the selling of tampered narcotics on the black market.
If you wish to know how a regime is peaceful or not, look at how it treats its citizens. The Iranian regime shows no mercy to its citizens, nor to animals and the environment. Minister of Justice Mostafa Pourmohammadi said that “We are proud that we heard the decrees of God against Moharebs (mentioning 1988 Massacre also known as “Bloody Summer”)”, according to IRI media. Ahmad Jannati, Shi’i cleric and a founding member of Haghani School, also supports the 1988 Massacre by remarking: “They had to be executed for the empowerment of Islamic Republic of Iran.” Accordingly, 100 Iranian activists wrote a joint letter to ICC (International Criminal Court) asking to recognize the 1988 Massacre as “crime against humanity”.
Below is a recent list of human rights abuses carried out by Iranian authorities both inside and outside the country:
- An Iranian MP has come out in support of acid punishment in retaliation against acid attackers, HRANA (Human Right Activists News Agency Iran) confirmed.
- The regime keeps many citizens on death row for alleged crimes, or even for peaceful activism (political or religious), in Iran’s prisons. At least 20 Sunni Kurdish men were executed, based on forced confessions extracted from them under torture, at Rajai Shahr prison on August 2 which is named as “Black Monday” by the prominent human rights activist Moustafa Rahmani.
- At least 157 men and 11 women have been sentenced to long-term or life imprisonment for alleged Moharebeh (enmity against God) in the prisons, HRANA reported.
- At least 279 citizens have been hung in 2016 so far. 90% of executions belong to drugs-related crimes, the Head of Human Rights Council in the Judiciary Mohammad-Javad Larijani says.
- At least 17 Kurdish political prisoners are on death row in prisons for alleged partnership or membership in the Kurdish parties.
- 769 people were arrested in Qom Province for alleged serious crimes as robbery, drugs dealing, gangs, smuggling, fraud and addiction.
- Basij forces (a paramilitary volunteer militia established in 1979 by order of the Islamic Revolution’s leader Ayatollah Khomeini) smashed 100,000 satellite dishes in the western part of Tehran with the supervision of the head of forces.
- At least 20 modeling websites and blogs have been banned, the police spokesman says.
- Authorities continuously cancel concerts across the country, according to official media.
- The rate of fuel smuggling and drugs trafficking been shockingly risen, according to official media reporting from Iranian authorities.
- Recently, the Environmental Protestation Organization, administration under Masoumeh Ebtekar (Vice President of Iran and head of Environmental Protection Organization) were arrested for alleged corruption, reports Fars News. They reportedly used the funding they received to spread propaganda about the environmental situation in Iran, the agency said.
- Dozens of citizens are sentenced to long terms of imprisonment in Iran only for speaking out against human rights violations. The jailers and interrogators torture the prisoners of conscience to confess to ambiguous charges —both psychologically and physically during the horrifying interrogation. Prison wardens also throw them into solitary confinement cells for long periods of time.
- Several Iranian dual nationals from the United States, Britain, Canada and France have been detained in the past few months and are being kept behind bars on various charges, including espionage or collaborating with a hostile government, Reuters Africa said.
- Women have continued to be treated as second class citizens, Iranian women endure systematic gender discrimination, and are deprived of fundamental rights such as a ban on traveling abroad, and from entering stadiums.
- Several months ago, Farahnaz Rafe, the Head of the Red Crescent of Iran, stated: “as we know children are being rented for approximately $5 a day, and sold for $660,000 dollars”, as reported by Tasnim agency. Some of the children’s bodies have reportedly shown signs of being burned, particularly on their faces, allegedly due to their mothers’ drug addiction. Also, officials confirmed that at least 20 to 200 newborns are born daily who are addicted to drugs from addicted mothers.
- Recently, officials arrested and flogged dozens of Iranians for attending graduation parties and peaceful rallies in the country.
- The regime jails many workers, union activists, students, Human Rights and political activists along with religious and ethnic minorities, yet, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad-Javad Zarif told Charlie Rose that “We do not jail people for their opinions.” Just some of the many activists in the mullahs’ jails are Arash Sadeghi, Amir Amirgholi, Atena Daemi, Omid Alishenas, Zeinab Jalalian and Saeed Shirzad .
- In last weeks, mass arrests, also known as tsunami arrests, are being conducted by IRGC forces in the western cities of Iran; at least 20 Kurdish prisoners were detained.
- A young man, Nader Dastanpoor died as a result of severe beating (torture), including internal brain bleeding, during his detention at 127 Police Detention (Narmak), an activist group said.
- An Iranian citizen told the Boroujerdi Civil Rights Group that the former Chief of the Islamic Revolutionary Committee, known as Jundallah (claiming to fight for the rights of Iranian citizens through ethical guidelines), used to trap young ladies and then abuse them. The source added that if there was a favourite woman he would ask his staff to drive her by Moral Guard van to the sanctum. The victims were raped and instructed to remain silent about their abuse, lest they and their families would be executed. The tragic story had been happening for years in the city of Ahwaz in the 80’s, as the reliable source said. There are many same heinous tales in the country; the stories are latent as a result of authorities’ reluctance, the witness acknowledged.
- A large number of workers have been fired due to the economic crisis, bribery, “IRGC Monopolization” and lack of government support of industry, and dozens have died because of unsafe and unhealthy working conditions. Exploitation of workers by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards without paying their salaries.
These are just part of Iran’s disaster statistics that have been mentioned by officials in the regime’s media. The country still faces huge destruction after three years presided over by the Rouhani cabinet, which is mostly worse than Ahmadinejad’s period especially, in human rights and economy. The above numbers of represent that the unblocking of money through the nuclear deal has not been, and will not be, spent for Iranian citizens. The money just empowers the regime, not the society.
The IRGC has procured construction projects estimated to be at least $2,857,142,857, the Khatam-al Anbiya Construction Headquarters says. The IRGC and President Rouhani might be agreeing upon at least 10 Super Economic Projects, Abdullahi, the CEO of the Khatam-al Anbiya Construction Headquarters says. Khatam-al Anbiya Construction Headquarters is the economic source of IRGC.
The IRGC coils on all economic aspects and resources, and manipulates (monitors) all the regime’s policies. The militant organization plays a significant role in positioning politicians (like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad). The IRGC rules over the governors and PM in the country. The guard, as a main player of Iran’s economy, has expanded Iran’s underground economy itself to control both the economy and politics. The IRGC builds a mafia cartel and controls industries such as oil companies, dam and road construction, electronic, aviation and construction. Their financial power also allows the IRGC to expand its political and operational capabilities in the country and around the world. The IRGC trades including exporting and importing legal and illegal goods from its secret ports and customs, Iran’s former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad confirmed. Per capita consumption of cigarettes is claimed to be $648,400,000, which tempts any smuggler let alone “our own brothers” (implying the IRGC leaders or the people connected to the guards), he said. He mentioned this at the time of a conflict among different authoritative (influential) regime’s wings. The guard imports drugs and alcoholic drinks in and exports arms out. They empower militant groups such as Hizbullah in the region by arming them. The IRGC has hand in drug trafficking to export to West from Afghanistan by using its underground customs.
The IRGC is also a serious risk around the globe. For example, the IRGC organized criminal gangs during anti-regime 2009 uprising “also known as Green Movement” to suppress demonstrators in streets, General Hussein Hamedani confirmed.
On Feb 21/2016, Mr. Ali Alizadeh, who had called the opponents of Iran’s Nuclear Treaty as “war-mongers” for their peaceful objection letter against the treaty, joined the sympathizer Persian BBC show (60 Minutes) hosted by Farnaz Ghazizadeh, to talk about his evil mentality and fascist opinion towards the war in Syria, and stating his loud and clear personal point of view on preferring a friendship with Ayatollah Mohammad Taghi Mesbah Yazdi (an Iranian Twelver Shi’i cleric) and Ahmad Jannati Massah (a hardline Iranian politician, Shi’i cleric and a founding member of Haghani school with close ties with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Mesbah-Yazdi) over Israel and America. He said “Our fellow brothers who are fighting in Syria are actually defending the Islamic Republic of Iran”. These thoughts are extremely dangerous to global villagers, Iranians and especially Middle-Easterners.
The IRGC coils like a snake over all economic aspects and resources, and manipulates (monitors) all regime’s policies. This militant organization plays a significant role in installing some politicians (like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad). The IRGC rules over the governors and president of the country.
For example, Khatm al-Anbiya, an Iranian engineering firm, is controlled by the IRGC. Secretary of the Coordination Council of Free Zones, said that Khatm al-Anbiya “is very powerful” and the central government cannot stop its dishonesty and rule breaking in such project implementation. In addition, in 2010 the South Pars gas field development project a deal worth an $21 billion, which is the largest contract to date of Iran’s oil industry, was transferred to Khatm al-Anbiya and a couple of non-governmental or semi-governmental companies without legal formalities.
Iran Tractor Manufacturing Company – allegedly owned by the IRGC and its major stock investment is Mehr Finance firm (affiliated Basij).
Imensazen Consultant Engineers Institute, one of the subsidiaries of Khatm al-anbya, which aims to study and design activities in the field of underground spaces and related structures, works in specialized fields of management studies in basic and field engineering, engineering consulting and project management services. The most important projects of Imensazen Consultant Engineers Institute, a subsidiary of Khatm al-anbya, are:
- Mashhad Urban Railway Line Project 2,
- Phase two urban rail line project management services in Tabriz,
- Phase one of Tabriz subway lines 3 and 4,
- Engineering Management consulting services of Tehran Metro Line 7,
- Water Tunnel project engineering services of Qomroud,
- Engineering services and research and design of Zayanderood river water transfer projects to Kashan (Rosewater),
- Management consulting services of South Pars phases 15 and 16,
- Engineering Consulting Services for 3D seismic project in the area of North Azadegan oil field.
IRGC and IRI army also known as AJA introduced their military equipment in joint military exercise in Tehran and Bandar Abbas on September 21, 2016. IRGC forces shows off “long range Zolfaghar missile” which has accurate guidance system, reports Tasnim News. The Khatam al-Anbiya base also introduces S300’s system in Tehran earlier Wednesday. Su-22 fighter aircrafts was shown for first time by IRGC forces. Further, the military force introduced its missiles Emad, Hormoz-2, Khatam-5 and Khatam-7.
On July, an exiled Iranian opposition camp located in Iraq was brutally attacked by the Iranian regime. Last year, the camp also was targeted in a rocket attack that killed at least 26 people, AFP reported.
Additionally, IRGC forces fired on the Kurdish cities of Iran and Iraq on June 26, 2016.
Lately, IRGC deputy commander, during Friday Prayer Ceremony, said that at least 100,000 missiles are ready to be launched from Lebanon, aiming at Israel.
“Goddamn Saudi authorities who unfairly own Mecca, says Qasem Soleymani, chief of IRGC Quds force, quoted by Fars News. Anti-Saudi banners appear in Tehran streets following IRI Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei speech against Saudis.
To conclude, this is the regime with which six super powers, led by the U.S., signed the nuclear treaty. Are the world’s leaders astonishingly corrupt? How can we expect practical solution for peace and freedom while governments attempt to increase disaster around the world? If they are seriously concerned about global peace, so-called “humanitarian intervention “(military intervention) is not a solution either, it has rather made the situation even worse.
Middle Easterners believe that the countries in the region could overcome their internal crises by their own masses power, through rising social awareness. Foreign intervention won’t solve the situation as neither the West nor anyone else can give them democracy. Democracy can only be earned, not given.
Follow Kaveh Taheri on Twitter: @TaheriKaveh