Not only has the Iranian government failed to protect the human rights of its citizens, it is also the prime violator of those rights.
The U.S. State Department has released its annual human rights report, assessing human rights conditions in 199 countries around the world.
At its release, Secretary of State John Kerry said the document “reaffirms. . .America’s commitment to advancing basic freedoms and dignity of all people:”
“These reports send a very clear message that all governments have a responsibility to protect universal human rights and they help to blaze a path forward for places where those rights are either threatened or denied.”
The report makes clear that not only has the Iranian government failed in its responsibility to protect the human rights of its citizens, it is also the prime violator of those rights. The government intensified its crackdown on civil society after the 2009 disputed elections, and this trend has continued. Iranian authorities “pressured, intimidated, and arrested journalists, students, lawyers, artists, women, ethnic and religious activists and their families. The judiciary continued to harshly punish, imprison or detain without charges human rights activists, members of the political opposition, and persons linked to reform movements.”
Among the most egregious problems, according to the report, were severe limitations on the Iranian people’s civil liberties, like freedom of the press, speech, and assembly, and “the government’s disregard for the physical integrity of persons whom it arbitrarily and unlawfully killed, tortured and imprisoned.”
Three horrific cases cited among many in the report: the alleged torture and death of blogger Sattar Beheshti during interrogation at Evin prison; the beatings and burnings with cigarettes of human rights lawyer Javid Houtan Kian, as reported by his attorney; and the mistreatment of dissident Shiite cleric and regime critic Ayatollah Hossein Kazemeini Boroujerdi, who claimed in a letter from prison that he was “slowly dying a horrific death. . . [and] banned from having medication, treatment or access to a lawyer.”
In Iran and around the world people are fighting courageously for their basic human rights. The United States, as Secretary Kerry says, will continue to shine a light on their struggle, and will “speak out unequivocally on behalf of the fundamental dignity and equality of all persons.”