Three Ways to Reduce Human Rights Pressures

Monday, May 16, 2011

Interview with Mahmoud Reza Golshanpazhooh
Executive Editor of Iran Review

The Geneva-based Human Rights Council adopted a resolution on March 24, 2011, deciding to appoint a special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran. The resolution, according to which a special human rights rapporteur will be sent to Iran, was passed through 22 ayes, 7 nays and 14 abstentions. When put into force, this would be the fourth human rights rapporteur to be appointed for Iran after Aguilar, Galindo Pohl, and Capithorne. Tehran Emrooz Daily has discussed this issue in the following interview with Dr. Mahmoud Reza Golshanpazhooh, Executive Editor of Iran Review.

Q: As you know, the first human rights rapporteur was appointed by the United Nations in 2006 during a session in Geneva in which an anti-Iranian resolution was adopted on the human rights situation in our country. What are overt and covert goals of this resolution and for what purpose human rights rapporteurs are sent to Iran?

A: The issue of human rights is among age-old tools used by the west against Iran which still comes in handy. Charges of human rights violations have been leveled against Iran since the victory of the Islamic Revolution and that process has more or less continued throughout post-revolution period. The west believes that human rights provide a permanent pressure point against Iran. Due to sensitivity of international public opinion about human rights, if it is combined with political goals and media power of the claimant countries, it can be very effective in damaging international prestige of a country. Therefore, I think that the west is trying to bring in a sidekick, though not new, to further increase previous pressures against Iran and this time, it is showing patience. Let’s not forget that if the west managed through human rights hue and cry to cast doubt on the legitimacy of our system in the world’s public opinion or, at least, that part of the world which is under the influence of the western media, it would have gained a lot.

Q: Due to the role played by the western countries, especially the United States, in the adoption of the anti-Iranian resolution and appointment of a new human rights rapporteur for Iran, do you think that the west is trying to introduce a new leverage against Iran in addition to the nuclear case?

A: Exactly. The human rights issue, however, should not be simply considered as a spinoff of the ongoing standoff over the nuclear program because it would make us think that if the west solved the nuclear program one way or another, the human rights issue would be automatically out of the question. This is not the case. At present, the general tendency in the world’s public opinion, which is also invigorated by the power of virtual communications, is to venerate human rights. As a result, human rights are now one of the most important highlights of all international plans and enjoy the same degree of significance as peace and development. Therefore, the west is acting quite knowingly and if we managed to solve the nuclear issue, the human rights problems will remain in place. One of the faults that we rightfully find with the west’s approach to human rights is its double standards in this area. We believe that pressures on us are politically motivated while the west has been closing its eyes on many of its allies whose human rights standards are much lower than Iran. This is true. However, although the western states do not directly address their allied states on human rights, this task has been given to nongovernmental organizations which are regularly criticizing human rights situation in those countries. I mean that whether we consider human rights pressures political or not, the issue of human rights has come to the fore throughout the world and we should deal skillfully with it. We should avoid of zero- or one-equation models.

Q: Since the European Union has put 32 Iranian officials on the list of its human rights-motivated sanctions, what effect can this approach have on Iran’s relations with the European Union as well as Iran’s nuclear talks with the European countries?

A: The human rights onslaughts against Iran during the past 30 years have almost always been spearheaded by Europe and the United States has been less involved in this. Four rounds of human rights dialogues between Iran and the west in 2002 through 2004 also took place between Iran and the European states. Anyway, I believe that the European countries knew that direct approach to this issue will further complicate nuclear talks and I firmly believe that they did this on purpose. They probably thought that by engaging Iran in multiple areas and increasing psychological pressures on it, Tehran will be finally exhausted or, at least, stalled and this would have been very fortunate for them.

Q: In what direction do you think that Iran’s future approaches to the recent human rights resolution and appointment of a special rapporteur should be set?

A: Firstly, we must realize that regardless of how hard we try, they will continue to find faults with our performance. Therefore, we should not back down before the west. Secondly, this approach should not make us believe that there are no shortcomings here. We must not become upset with any criticism from abroad or by the west and international organizations dismissing all of them on grounds of being politically motivated. We must accept that there is always room to become better. If we claim to be the beating heart of the Muslim world and a role model for people who are fed-up with unfavorable situation of the world, we must be able to adapt to inherent human standards and provide an actual model to the rest of the world. Finally, we must work on our attitude and logic as a Shia Muslim and introduce it to the world. I believe that this will greatly reduce the existing tensions.

As for resolutions, the same approach could be very helpful. Giving accurate answers to all allegations, admitting our own shortcomings, and finally documented rebuttal of baseless claims will shake the very fundaments of such resolutions. With regard to the human rights rapporteur, I personally maintain that we must welcome rapporteurs. Not allowing them to travel here will solve no problem. If they are not fed correct information by our government, they are sure to get information from other sources and include them into their annual reports. It is true that lack of cooperation is a way of indicating a country’s dissatisfaction with unfair treatment and politicization of human rights issue, but it will be also beneficial to us to think about the outcome. The outcome of such a trend will be aggregation of allegations many of which can be refuted by spending enough time, endeavor and logical argument.

Source: Tehran Emrooz Daily
Translated By: Iran Review

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