The U.S. State Department has published its annual report on the status of human rights around the world. Once again, the Iranian government is among the worst violators of the basic rights of its citizens. Here is Jonathan Farrar, Acting U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor:
”Countries in which power is concentrated in the hands of unaccountable rulers remain the most systematic human rights violators. Here we would cite North Korea, Burma, Iran, Syria, Zimbabwe, Cuba, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Eritrea and Sudan.”
The State report says that in 2007, the Iranian government’s poor human rights record became even worse. Iran’s security forces engaged in torture and officially-sanctioned severe, barbaric forms of punishments, including flogging, death by stoning, and amputation.
Civil liberties, including freedoms of speech, press, assembly, and religion were severely restricted, according to the report. Authorities used excessive force against demonstrators. Violence and legal discrimination against women, ethnic and religious minorities, and homosexuals remained problems. Workers’ rights, including the right to organize and bargain collectively, were severely restricted. Students were detained for exercising their freedom of speech.
The report cites the plight of Iran’s political prisoners, incarcerated solely because of their beliefs. Their exact number is unknown, but is estimated by the U.N. Special Representative for the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Expression to be in the hundreds. They include, among others, Azeri Iranian cultural rights activist Abbas Lisani, dissident cleric Ayatollah Mohammad Kazemeini Boroujerdi, student activists Ahmad Batebi and Ali Nikunesbati, human rights lawyer Emadoldin Baghi, workers’ rights leaders Mansur Osanloo and Mahmoud Salehi, and women’s rights advocates Hana Abdi and Ronak Safarzadeh. In addition, the report notes the continuing crackdown by the Iranian government on journalists.
U. S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says, “In too many countries, champions of human rights are denounced and persecuted, vilified as traitors or targeted for repression.” But, she says, “As long as citizens around the world champion the universal values of human rights, there is hope. And we, in the United States, continue to believe it is our duty to support these courageous men and women.”