The report condemns inhuman punishments such as stoning which "have in fact taken place in larger cities including Tehran, Hamedan, Isfahan and Kermanshah" and that all such punishments have been "endorsed by the Supreme Court and that accordingly, the incidents concerned are not random acts of excess." As for the situation of women, the report notes that "the system remains discriminatory."
Citing some sources that "at no time since the Revolution had the atmosphere been more repressive," the Special Representative emphasizes that the cases he has cited in his previous reports continue to remain valid.
Despite serious deficiencies and optimistic and injudicious political assessments as to the role and hollow promises of Mohammad Khatami, the report, taken as a whole, does indicate that the religious, terrorist dictatorship ruling Iran cannot reform.
While enumerating many heinous atrocities of the clerical regime, the report states paradoxically that since mullah Khatami took office, "the prospecting improvement of the human rights situation in Iran has certainly grown stronger" and that "some observers believe they will, in time, be both substantiated and broadly based."
Such assessments by interested "observers" are totally beyond the mandate of investigations into human rights violations in Iran. This is particularly the case because Khatami and members of his cabinet have been among principal officials responsible for repression in Iran in the last two decades. On January 20, Khatami stressed: "We will continue to tread along Khomeini's path... We will persevere to do so." He had previously stipulated on November 17, 1997, that the law means "defending the velayat-e faqih (the supreme rule of the clerics)" and "only those who believe in Islam and the leadership" have the right to conduct political activities.
The report speaks of "accelerated changes" in the status of women and "positive steps" in the freedom of expression. Yet, last month, the Supreme Council for Cultural Revolution, presided over by Khatami, rejected the regime's joining to the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women. In a February 4 interview with French television channel, France 2, one of his deputies (Massoumeh Ebtekar) tried to legitimize the punishment of stoning by linking it to "the situation of women in Islam and Iran."
Khatami discourteously canceled a scheduled meeting with Ms. Mary Robinson, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, only because she wanted to raise concerns about human rights in Iran.
Regarding the freedom of expression, we only need to note that since Khatami took office, even many clerics and theological students were arrested, harassed and put under house arrest. Moreover, during the Majlis by-elections in March, many candidates, including those of the allies and certain factions of the regime, were disqualified. Khatami did not even challenge the disqualifications. Government Spokesman and Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance, Ata'ollah Mohajerani, reiterated in a January 20 interview with the Iranian news agency, IRNA: "If a book breaches religious and moral foundations (i.e. runs counter to the regime's interests), I will not authorize its publication. I take responsibility for the censorship of literary works."
Regrettably, the report is also silent about the torture and maltreatment of political prisoners, assassination of dissidents abroad and brutal crackdown on popular uprisings. Reacting to the workers' extensive strikes and students' protests nationwide, the Intelligence Ministry has raided the homes of workers and student activists, and arrested and tortured them. There is no information available on the fate of those arrested.
In addition, the Special Representative has not been allowed to visit Iran in order to prepare his second report after Khatami took office and his correspondences with the regime's officials have essentially gone unanswered. (Par. 39 of the report)
At the same time, the clerical regime, emboldened by the international community's insufficient reaction to its recent crimes, has now found the conditions ripe for attacking the most fundamental principles of human rights recognized internationally. The regime has questioned the Universal Declaration on Human Rights in order to justify its crimes under the pretext of "differences in human rights values." In an address to the United Nations' gathering in Geneva on the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Tehran radio reported that Kamal Kharrazi, the mullahs' Foreign Minister, had reiterated: "As a western phenomenon, the Universal Declaration on Human Rights is based on Western values and traditions, and includes individual freedoms and individualism." Trying to protray the Universal Declaration on Human Rights as contradictory to the teachings of Islam, Kharrazi added: "Other cultures lay special emphasis on social issues and this is what must be considered in the concept of human rights." (Tehran radio, March 18, 1998)
Mr. Massoud Rajavi, President of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, called on the 54th session of the UNHRC to condemn decisively the increasing violations of the most basic human rights of the Iranian people and the export of terrorism by the clerical regime, to which Prof. Copithorne's report has attested. He also urged the Commission, after 41 condemnations of the clerical regime by different UN organs in two decades, to refer the issue of human rights abuses in Iran to the UN Security Council.
Mr. Rajavi added: Eight years ago, by taking a moderate posture and offering a variety of concessions to different governments, Rafsanjani tried to overshadow the flagrant violations of human rights in Iran and circumvent the regime's condemnation by the UN Human Rights Commission and the General Assembly.
This time, the Iranian people are vigilant so as to not allow the review of the increasing violations of their rudimentary rights fall victim to maneuvers, posturings and hollow promises of Khatami. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights must not be sacrificed on the altar of economic and political interests. Nor should it be chopped to pieces in a selective approach or become subservient to the oft-repeated game of "doves and hawks" within the clerical regime.
Treating the religious, terrorist dictatorship ruling Iran as "separate factions" and "good cops, bad cops" must be seen in the context of the search for "moderate" business partners, because it leads to the acquittal of certain factions within the regime. It further provides justification for the mullahs to perpetrate atrocities and perpetuate human rights violations.
Secretariat of the National Council of Resistance of Iran
April 8, 1998