Second, have the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights create a special commission of inquiry.
Third, implore President Trump to pay attention to human rights violations by the Ayatollahs. But, we should not forget about their ballistic missiles tests, as a state sponsor of terrorism, and creation of an Iraq that is a virtual satrap of Iran.
Human Rights Day gave the commissioner an occasion to state that enshrined documents like the Universal Declaration of Human Rights were and are under assault and must be defended by the major powers. It cannot be left to bodies like the ICC to carry out defense of human rights.
Where is Washington? We are missing in action, “AWOL” in defense of human rights. Instead, Trump believes national security interests are defined by “hard power,” instead of “soft power,” like human rights. This situation is intolerable.
The Ayatollahs regularly respond to disobedience — both when the offense occurs in public or by their so-called “citizens,” who are in the regime’s detention facilities. One notorious one is Evin Prison in Tehran.
The Evidence: 1988 Massacre in Iran
Political prisoners were incarcerated, and eventually killed, at Evin Prison in the 1988 massacres. Some 30,000 dissidents were murdered across Iran, but particularly in Evin. Assassins carried out their deeds under direct orders of then-Supreme Leader Ruhollah Khomeini. He instructed guards to execute all those who opposed the regime.
After the execution, corpses would be transported in the dead-of-night to one of the numerous mass graves, which came in the form of deeply dug channels, secretly excavated in various isolated locations across the country, areas dubbed by their executioners as The Place of the Damned.
But to this day, little has changed at Evin. Abuses still take place, while the words of human rights activists fall on deaf ears. Rather than denouncing the regime with harsh condemnations it rightly deserves, the world has virtually ignored abuses carried out in its prisons and streets; instead the major powers provide the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) lucrative transactions like the Iran Deal of 2015, rather than hard-hitting sanctions that cut deeply. Fortunately, in July 2017, the State Department designated the IRGC as a Foreign Terrorist Organization.
Tanter suggested steps for a solution:
First, Trump should revise the National Security Strategy to include human rights as a strategic national interest.
Second, the president should take heed of the words spoken in anticipation of Human Rights Day, on Dec. 7, by the Organization for Iranian-American Communities (OIACUS). It sponsored a session in the Kennedy Caucus Room the Russell Building of the U.S. Capitol. There were welcoming remarks in a video message from the National Council of Resistance of Iran, (NCRI), President-Elect Madame Maryam Rajavi. One of her themes was a need for regime change from within.
Former U.S. officials and sitting members of Congress — Sens. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and John Bozeman (R-Ariz) — spoke against the Ayatollahs.
Another speaker, former speaker of the U.S. House Newt Gingrich, emphasized growing capabilities of the main opposition group in Iran, the NCRI. Its largest unit is the People’s Mujahedeen of Iran, (PMOI), commonly known as the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq or MEK. Gingrich highlighted lack of moderation anticipated by President Obama and how President Trump needed to accelerate his pressure on the Iranian regime with new sanctions on Tehran.
Former National Security Advisor to President Obama Gen. Jim Jones echoed the remarks of others, in focusing on regime change from within. Jones decried that Obama had not authorized an attack against Assad in Syria, as Trump later did, and thus assisted moderate Syrian oppositionists before they could be defeated by Assad. But now even Trump has begun to turn his back on the dissidents by denying them arms Obama had authorized.
Amb. (Ret.) Lincoln Bloomfield, Jr., closed the briefing with a defense of regime change from within, new sanctions on Iran, and growing capabilities of the NCRI to bring about regime change from within.
Third, Trump’s White House speech rolling out his Iran Policy Review does not target Tehran’s human rights record and hence to expose the regime’s intolerable abuses. A related State Department document only discusses topics, such as nuclear weapons, ballistic missiles, and Iran as a State Sponsor of International Terrorism.
For Trump’s national security strategy to truly make a difference, we have no choice but to incorporate consideration for human rights.
Prof. Raymond Tanter served as a senior member on the Middle East Desk of the National Security Council staff in the Reagan-Bush administration, Personal Representative of the Secretary of Defense to international security and arms control talks in Europe, and is now Professor Emeritus at the University of Michigan.