Continuing Imprisonment and Mistreatment of Iranian Activists Demonstrates the Regime’s Contempt for Its Human Rights Obligations
Iran has recently come under condemnation from the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention for the treatment of two of its citizens, both of whom have been wrongfully imprisoned and condemned in blatant disregard for its international obligations and promises of civil liberties to its citizens. Zeinab Jalalian and Bahareh Hedayat have been targeted by the Islamic Republic and its regime as enemies of the state because of the political activities. Their treatment is the same as that of thousands of others who have been marked wrongly as enemies of the Islamic Republic, and treated as such. Only by the international community holding Iran responsible for its behavior and by demanding justice for those falsely and wrongly imprisoned can the Iranian government’s behavior be checked.
Despite being a signer of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, a promise to uphold basic civil and legal rights, Iran has repeatedly acted in defiance of this agreement. Ms. Zeinab Jalalian is but one case in many in which the Iranian government repeatedly violated rights which it had previously agreed to uphold, namely the use of torture and the promise of a fair trial. Ms. Jalalian stood bravely in the face of torture and for that we salute. Her refusal to confess to crimes she did not commit was the primary reason the regime began its harsh regime of torture. The treatment that Ms. Zeinab Jalalian has experienced at the hands of the Islamic Republic is utterly horrific. Threats of rape as well as repeated denial of proper legal defense are just small parts of what came to be a clear cut example of the tyranny and barbarity of the current regime of Iran.
Ms. Bahareh Hedayat, a well known and respected leader of students, is another starak example of the regime’s abuse off human rights. Ms. Hedayat was targeted due to her protest organizing and her push for women’s involvement in both education and public life in Iran. The involvement of women in public life and Hedayat’s refusal to limit her speech are both considered to be unacceptable to the Islamic Republic’s leaders and a threat to their power. Hedayat’s punishment was to be repeatedly imprisoned by the Islamic Republic on made up charges of “insulting the supreme leader” as well as treasonous activity against the state. The fact that Iran is now reduced to crafting such charges against those who are willing to speak out against the state only demonstrates the desperation of the leadership of the Islamic Republic to hold onto power.
Both the case of of Ms. Hedayat and Ms. Zeinab demonstrate that the Islamic Republic is not above flagrant disregard for due process, despite its promises to the international community to the contrary. This willingness to sign and then ignore key international legal and political agreements casts a dark shadow on the Islamic Republic, one that the international community cannot ignore.