For instance, Tasnim News Agency reported on Wednesday that Foreign Ministry spokesperson Marziyeh Afkham had categorically rejected the report of the UN special rapporteur on human rights in Iran. Her statement, however, reportedly did not make any specific points to contradict Ahmed Shaheed’s account. Instead, it referred to political motivations behind the report and the very existence of Shahee’s position.
Afkham also said the report “has been produced without observing regulations relating to the responsibilities of UN Human Rights Council agents and lacks the necessary legal basis.” She went on to suggest that Iran’s known human rights abuses, including excessive numbers of executions, many for non-violent crimes, could be justified in context of “correct understanding” of the Iranian judicial system.
Whatever change this “correct understanding” might affect in the understanding of Iran’s treatment of its citizens, it is evidently not enough for many of those citizens, who continue to flee their home country on the basis of persecution or low quality of life, in order to take up residence as refugees in places like Australia.
The fact that this exodus is continuing is demonstrated by the Sydney Morning Herald in an article that reveals remarks made last month by Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Hassan Qashqavi. The official referred to boats carrying asylum seekers as “death ships” and urged Iranians to stay off of them. Qashqavi urged families to stop youth from fleeing the country through illegal channels bound for Australia, where one Iranian expatriate was heading when he died last month of septicemia in Papua New Guinea.
While Qashqavi’s statements were wholly focused on the idea of protecting young Iranians from death and difficult living conditions, those same statements conspicuously avoid reference to the domestic Iranian conditions that make such people willing to risk their lives and comfort in order to escape.