Published: Tuesday, 21 October 2014
By INU staff,
At the same time that Iran is forming closer partnerships with adversaries of the West on the global stage, similarly close partnerships are forming domestically between Iran’s government agencies and other adversaries of human rights.
IranWire reported on Monday that Nasrin Sotoudeh, a prominent Iranian human rights lawyer, had been barred from practicing law for three years, as of October 17. This move by the Iranian Bar Association is the first ban of its kind, and IranWire argues that it signifies growing closeness between that organization and the Intelligence Ministry. Other lawyers have complained of a lack of support from the bar association, or active antagonism under apparent government pressure.
This may point to greater difficulty for human rights lawyers in the future as they fight against a range of recurring abuses, including the execution of persons who were convicted of crimes as minors. It was reported on Monday that just such an execution had taken place on Sunday when Fardin Jafarian was executed at the age of 18, approximately four years after he killed another teenager in what a close relative described as an unintentional act.
Human rights activists point out that the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Iran is a signatory, bars these types of sentences for persons under 18 years of age. Iran’s contravention of these norms is partly attributable to the theocratic regime’s interpretations of sharia law and its understanding of Iranian culture. Iran generally considers children to be adults at the point of puberty, easily determined in the case of girls by the onset of menses.
IranWire detailed some of the other conservative views and double standards concerning gender in a special report on Monday. It describes, among other things, the requirement that women prove their virginity if they wish to remove their husbands’ names from their identification following a divorce. There is no such requirement for men, nor any means of furnishing supposed proof.
Beyond simply justifying harsh punishments for young offenders, the Iranian regime has also used its views on youth and gender to encourage vigilante enforcement of what it sees as Islamic principles. Last week it was reported that the Iranian parliament had moved to give greater power to vigilante groups, which are known for attacking people in public for defying sharia law.
Extreme examples of this have been seen recently in Isfahan, where a number of people have thrown acid on women deemed to be improperly attired, according to Reuters. The particularly extreme attacks have forced a response from the regime, which announced the arrest of several people on Monday. A police commander in Isfahan declared that the people responsible were likely to be “mentally unstable,” and the region’s Friday prayer leader asserted that there was no basis in Islam for these actions.
But despite these statements, there is no doubt that vigilantism in general has been actively encouraged by the regime, and these incidents certainly raise questions about how capable the regime would be of controlling its more empowered vigilantes, even if it wanted to.
Published: Tuesday, 21 October 2014
INU staff, On Monday, Newser reported that there were signs that President Obama may be planning to deliver unilateral sanctions relief to Iran on the basis of a recent Treasury Department study. It asserts that the Obama administration has the authority to suspend sanctions on his own, without Congressional approval, although such approval would be necessary in order to make those suspensions permanent.
Permanent sanctions relief will require substantial proof of Iranian compliance with international efforts to rein in the nation’s nuclear program. Thus far that has not been forthcoming, as reiterated by the International Atomic Energy Agency on Monday. Reuters reports that agency head Yukiya Amano said the IAEA is still not able to provide “credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran.” He also repeated the agency’s insistence that Iran must swiftly undertake transparency measures that it had formerly agreed to, including five key steps that the Islamic Republic failed to complete by an agreed upon August 25 deadline.
The lack of IAEA assurances certainly diminishes the chances of approval for sanctions relief from the US Congress, which has taken a much harder line on Iran than the president has. That Congress and other Iran critics are thus concerned that Obama may push through with a deal even if it is not favorable to American interests. The Treasury Department report contributes further to these concerns.
An editorial at the American Thinker suggests that Obama has put the prospect of a “history-making” deal with Iran ahead of concerns over proper procedures and the actual terms that the US government will be made to agree with. The author also argues that the Obama administration will actively stand in the way of the reimplementation of economic sanctions even if the Iranian regime shows signs of continued pursuit of its nuclear program.
And on Sunday, Israeli Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz suggested that that is exactly the most likely outcome given the “wrong direction” that nuclear negotiations are currently taking. Steinitz worries that the Iran nuclear agreement will look similar to the one signed with North Korea, which led to Pyongyang developing several nuclear weapons anyway. Steinitz also warned that an Iranian nuclear weapon may have even more serious consequences because it will make it more difficult for the world community to prevent a race for nuclear weapons among other Middle Eastern powers, including non-state actors.
Furthermore, the Iranian intelligence minister called attention to the issue of economic sanctions, saying that Iran is receiving substantial relief in exchange for nothing of value. He points out that if sanctions are lifted, Iran may gain 100 billion dollars per year. If Tehran chooses to, it may be able to invest some of that money into clandestine nuclear activities, thus giving a major boost to the very program that the current negotiations were intended to constrain.
Iran’s economic relief has led to an increase in financial interest in the Islamic Republic among European businesses. The desire to enter that market may be reducing the level of international support for sanctions, thus making it even harder for them to be re-imposed in the near future.
But this is not to say that broader economic recovery is a foregone conclusion. The Washington Post points out the recent drop in oil prices could nullify recent gains from sanctions relief. But this will depend upon those prices remaining low over the long term. If they do, though, the Post also suggests that the renewed economic pressure may increase American leverage in future efforts to negotiate over Iran’s nuclear program.