Riyadh Daily, 3 December 2017
A panel of experts was organized by the National Council of Resistance of Iran, U.S. Representative Office (NCRI-US) to discuss the situation of human rights in Iran, and U.S. policy regarding it. The panel coincided with the release of a new well-documented book, Iran: Where Mass Murderers Rule: The 1988 Massacre of 30,000 Political Prisoners and the Continuing Atrocities. The book is already the #1 New Release on Iran on Amazon.
The event was held at the National Press Club a week ahead of Human Rights Day and highlighted the need to designate certain Iranian officials as major human rights violators subject to sanctions.
The panel began with an introduction from former U.S. Ambassador to Bahrain and panel moderator, Adam Ereli. After introducing the panelists Ereli made a statement on the importance of the ideas the book explores.
The book, he said, “explores a dark chapter in not just Iran, but the civilized world… [where] the Iranian state [has] systematically executed an estimated 30,000 men, women, and children… because they refused to pledge loyalty to the regime.”
Ereli added, “many perpetrators of this crime are in positions of high authority in the current government of Iran. There has been no investigation or accountability… this has produced a culture of impunity… similar crimes against humanity in the past … mobilized the world community.” He said that this crime deserves at least a similar outrage.
Soona Samsami, the U.S. Representative of NCRI delivered her remarks on the significance of the book, “because it is not only intended to commemorate the past, but to draw attention to the present as well as the future. [It explains that] every day, new blood from a new Iranian citizen is spilled at the hands of an inhumane, corrupt, regime… these hands, however, are the same hands today as they were thirty years ago.” Samsami continued to say “the way forward certainly involves holding the regime accountable for not only its past crimes against humanity, but its current violations as well.”
One important anecdote Samsami spoke to during her speech was how the lack of information regarding the victims perpetrates injustice. She stated, “very little is known about the victims and the location of their bodies. The graves and names of the victims, which have long been shrouded in secrecy by the Iranian regime, must be released to the victims’ families in order to bring closure.”
The flip side of this, said Samsami, “is a population, which is growing emboldened by the day, evident in nearly 11,000 protest acts by different sectors of Iranian society in the past year. Nurses, teachers, taxi, bus and truck drivers, entrepreneurs, students, factory workers, miners, farmers, and others who have fell victim to corruption and embezzlement, have in one way or the other taken the complaints public, staging protests in front of ministries and local government offices all across the country.”
Samsami concluded, “tens of thousands of Iranians are protesting in various parts of Iran against the regime and calling for a Free Iran. It is a Free Iran that can also ensure peace, stability and tranquility in the region.”
Linda Chavez, former Director of the White House Office of Public Liaison, who was also former U.S. Expert elected by the United Nations Human Rights Commission to the U.N. Sub-commission on the Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities drew on her experience of dealing with the Iranian opposition since decades ago when the group was providing information to the United Nations in Geneva and emphasized that there is bi-partisan consensus on the need to condemn the regime and hold the rulers accountable for their crimes.
Chavez discussed the current Iranian regime’s treatment of women. “We have a society in Iran in which it would be an understatement to say half of the population are regarded as second-class citizens. Women in Iran are not even given the rights of second-class citizens… One of the reasons I think the regime hates and fears the MEK is because women are allowed to be in leadership positions.”
She then returned to the issue of the 1988 massacre Samsami spoke on stating that “it’s important to focus, I think, on what has happened in the past in Iran but as soon as suggested it would be a mistake to think that these are all crimes of history. What we’re trying to do is to bring some measure of justice to crimes that have been committed in the past – that would be a noble enough endeavor – but the problem is, those crimes continue to this day.”
The Honorable J. Kenneth “Ken” Blackwell, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Commission, talked on how the Iran regime can and should be confronted. “I think, if in fact, we keep the pressure as part of the comprehensive pressure that we put on the regime, we can help bring closure to the families of the victims of the summer of blood in 1988… It is incumbent upon us as individuals, us as nation states, and as communities of nation states, to put the pressure on the regime to give access to the community so that we may shine light – individual light, collective light – on the evils that were done by the regime.”
With conviction in his voice, Blackwell continued. “We want to demand that our delegation at the UN continues to be leading voice… not only on the threats to national terrorism that is perpetuated by and advanced by the regime… but we in fact want to bring justice to those human rights fighters who in fact have the experience of a brutal history… where people who were just passing out leaflets in 1988 were part of the human victims of a regime that is dark, that is anti-human rights, and that is a threat to the basic fabric of humanity across the globe.”
Closing the panel was former Ambassador to Morocco, Marc Ginsberg. His words called on his own political party, the Democrats, to act on their values of freedom and equality. “If anything, we Democrats should be champions of holding Iran accountable!” Touching on the current focus of the party, he demanded that to “expand the debate about Iran. It is not merely the issue of the Iran nuclear agreement, it is its violation as a state sponsor of terror.”
In fact, the panel and the ideas they expressed can best be said in the words of Ginsberg. “As a proud Democrat, I think it is essential that my party and the people who unfortunately embraced their belief that the only thing that matters to them is the Iran Nuclear agreement need to in effect be held accountable and in time shamed into realizing that their true calling, and always has been as the Democratic party, human rights comes first, not appeasing a regime.”
The issue with Iran is more than nuclear weapons or trade violations, as it seems. It is about human rights. The same people who committed crimes against humanity in 1988 are still the ones in power today. This cannot be allowed in the modern world. The American and European governments need to be pressured by their citizens to take a harder stance on the Iranian regime and stand on the side of the Iranian people and the organized opposition as Iranians call for Free Iran.