As the last debates in the U.S. Senate fade away and President Rouhani receives a hero’s welcome in the UN, it is worthwhile to note the new alliances the U.S. has formed in the wake of this “New middle East.” Chief amongst them is NIAC, the National Iranian American Council, who played a major role in developing and advocating for the nuclear deal. Iran, according to NIAC, will embark on a new path of moderation, human rights and democracy, worlds away from what is actually taking place in Iran as these deliberations continued. Optimism can be an easy sell – but reality is no less important.
In a recent Huffington Post article, NIAC’s president, Dr. Trita Parsi, argued that the nuclear deal will not only prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons and a devastating war, but also that it will “improve the prospects for Iran moving in a positive direction internally – in terms of democratization and human rights.” To further his point that a nuclear deal will benefit those fighting for human rights on the ground in Iran, Mr. Parsi refers to “an unprecedented group of Iranian human rights defenders and pro-democracy activists” that have “come out in a massive wave in support of the agreement.”
On its face, the list of human rights activists seem impressive. But a closer examination of these individuals uncovers something else. Take, for example, Ibrahim Yazdi, the former foreign minister of the Islamic regime in Iran who participated in revolutionary courts that summarily executed tens of generals of the Iranian royal army — a move he has refused to regret or condemn to this day. Or Farokh Negahdar, a former radical Marxist who for many years also defended the summary executions carried out by the revolutionary courts and informed on his former comrades who had turned against the Islamic regime. Or Ebrahim Nabavi, a so-called political satirist, who since leaving Iran, hasn’t missed an opportunity to encourage Iranians abroad to “forget” about the past human rights violations of the regime and particularly the horrific mass executions of the late eighties in which thousands of Iranians political prisoners were killed and buried in mass graves.
For the last three decades, the Islamic regime in Iran enjoyed, more or less, normal diplomatic relations with most of the world, with the exception of America and Israel. European countries who maintained ties with the Islamic regime faced criticism for their apparent disregard for the abysmal human rights conditions in Iran and argued that they engaged in “critical dialogue” with the Islamic regime, explaining that expanding cultural and economic ties will ultimately lead to improvement in the human rights situation and democracy in Iran. While the European countries were naively engaged in a so-called “critical dialogue” (that had its own economic benefit), the Islamic regime’s terror machine was hard at work in Iran and abroad. Tens of thousands of Iranians were executed and buried in the mass graves in “Khavaran,” in the south of Teheran. The appalling human rights violations extend beyond Iranian soil as evidenced by the nearly two hundred Iranian dissidents and regime opponents that were assassinated all across Europe. While engaging in a dialogue with Western Europe, Islamic regime’s terror masters went on to decimate genuine internal dissent and expanded their support for terrorist groups such as Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah abroad. They continued their work uninterrupted, aided by billions of dollars from trade and a normalized economic relationship that the free world had put at their disposal.
Even today, while the ink on the agreement Secretary Kerry signed with the Islamic regime’s foreign minister Mr. Javad Zarif hasn’t dried yet, Iran’s terror machine is already moving into high gear. According to Amnesty International, Rouhani’s government has executed more than 700 people so far this year and over 1900 since assuming office. The killing spree should come as no surprise. Rouhani’s Justice Minister, Mostafa Pourmohammadi, was intimately involved in the 1988 massacre of political prisoners where over 10,000 were executed.
Dead Prime Ministers, apparently, are also a current threat. Recently, Rouhani’s ministry of intelligence, summoned Dr. Hossein Mussavian, leader of the National Front, remnant of the deposed P.M. Dr. Muhammad Mossadegh’s political coalition. Mossadegh was deposed some 60 years ago and his followers are mainly elderly political activists who remained loyal to his vision of a more open Iran. Mussavian, was informed that his political organization was banned and the occasional house gatherings could not be continued. Last month nine prisoners were hanged in Karaj and in Sanandaj (western Iran). Eight of the prisoners, including a 22 and a 24-year-old, were collectively hanged. Five additional hangings were reported since, including another unnamed 19-year-old hanged in Mashad. The violation list continues to other areas as well. Another recent report from the state-run Mehr news agency published statements by some parents whose mentally disabled children were tortured for lengthy periods at a center 50 kilometers from Tehran.
As the “nuclear debate” season comes to a close, new realities must now be tackled. Hopefully, the new Iran debates will be based on the actual facts rather than wishful thinking, propaganda and mass anti-war hysteria propagated by the Islamic regime and their lobbyists. Unfortunately, this might be wishful thinking as well.
Dr. Nir Boms is a co-founder of CyberDissidensts.org and a research fellow at the Dayan center for Middle East Studies. Shayan Arya is a Human Rights activist and a member of the Constitutionalist Party of Iran (Liberal Democrat).