Terrorism is a real threat, and terrorists are dangerous. Fortunately, most of us have not encountered a terrorist. Perhaps this might be a good chance for an introduction. Meet Mr. Shahram Homayoun, a resident of Los Angeles and the owner of Channel One TV, a Farsi satellite station that airs in Iran.
Homayoun is an outspoken critic of the clerical regime in Iran who runs a daily program which has grown in popularity. This, according to some – including the International Police Organization (Interpol) – qualifies him to the position. You will find the rest of the story – that was the base of a policy paper for the Henry Jackson Society below or the Caspian Weekly link here.
Another view on Iranian terror
By: Nir Boms and Shayan Arya
Mr. Shahram Homayoun, a resident of Los Angeles and the owner of Channel One TV, a Farsi satellite station that airs in Iran is now on the Interpol terrorist list. But the connection between him and terrorism has nothing to do with anything that involves his actions. But it has something do with the actions of his country, Iran, a proud sponsor of terrorism and a savvy player in the world of international law. Iran’s latest “achievement” is a very worrying sign for anyone who still believes in the international system who should have responded very differently to this case.
Homayoun is an outspoken critic of the clerical regime in Iran who runs a daily program which has grown in popularity. He garners a wide following inside Iran and among Iranian Diaspora. His personal program, “the Last Moment,” offers a daily analysis on events in Iran and focuses on exposing human rights violations.
Last month, Homayoun’s bank account was blocked. Inquiring at the bank he discovered to his grave dismay that he is now a wanted man. The public prosecutor in the city of Shiraz, Iran, was successful in issuing an international arrest warrant against him via the International Law Enforcement Organization known as the Interpol. He was charged with “terrorism.”
For the past thirty one years, the ruling Ayatollahs have been preoccupied with silencing their opponents and critics. They have practiced everything from imprisonment, torture and execution, to physical and character assassination of their outspoken critics. In these most recent developments, they have exceled with finesse. The mission of Interpol, the world’s largest international police organization with 188 member countries, is to facilitate cross-border police cooperation to “prevent or combat international crime.” It should not be used for silencing dissidents.
Mr. Homayoun has never been a member or even a supporter or sympathizer of any terrorist organization. But in his program, he encourages Iranians to resist the Islamic regime and participate in an active campaign of peaceful civil disobedience.
Terrorism might be in the eyes of the beholder. Islamic regime news agencies were quick to celebrate Interpol’s decision to cooperate with Shiraz’s public prosecutor. Parsine, a pro-government website stated that “Homayoun encouraged his audience to engage in acts of terrorism against the Islamic regime such as writing slogans (on walls) and resisting the security forces.”
It is obvious that activities such as writing slogans against a regime cannot qualify as acts of terrorism and that the motivation of the Mr. Homayoun warrant is political. Then how did Iran, a known sponsor of terrorism, convince the Interpol to participate in an action that clearly violates its own constitution, Article 3 of the Interpol charter that clearly states, “ It is strictly forbidden for the Organization to undertake any intervention or activities of a political, military, religious or racial character.”
It is also ironic that Islamic regime’s decision to use Interpol has coincided with an unrelated US development. Last December, President Obama amended executive order 12425 that dealt with the limitations that were put on Interpol by President Reagan in 1983. The new executive order granted Interpol the ability to operate within the territorial limits of the United States without being subjected to constitutional restraints that apply to all domestic law enforcement agencies such as the FBI.
The impact of this latest move on Mr. Homayoun and his TV station are still unclear – but this troubling affair raises some difficult questions about the role of international institutions and international treaties as they face cases like that of Iran.
Massoud Jazayeri, the deputy commander of Iranian armed forces, warned in Keyhan in an interview that many protesters inside and outside Iran have been identified and will be dealt with at the right time. His promise was kept.
Over 30 human rights activists including renowned director Jafar Panahi were arrested in Iran in the last two weeks. Soon, it seems, outspoken critics in the Diaspora will find their names posted on Interpol’s website with international arrest warrants. A number of activist in the US and Europe received threatening phone calls and emails from Iran warning them not to support the Green movement. One activist now residing in the US received a phone call with a pointed warning from the very person who tortured him in an Iranian jail.
The international community must send a clear message that international institutions will not be used by member countries to suppress civil society nor silence critics. The Interpol should better remove Mr. Homayoun from their “red card” list and suspend their implicit cooperation with the Islamic regime while at the same time ensuring this will not happen again. The US and other like minded countries should also assemble a few lawyers together and make sure that this loophole is closed. Last, it is urgent that international organization begin to pay attention not to what the Iranian government is asking but to its ongoing violation of human rights in that country. Perhaps Interpol should be contacted about that?
Nir Boms is the co-founder of CyberDissident.org. Shayan Arya is an activist and a member of the Constitutionalist Party of Iran.