investigation by Iran’s Judiciary of human rights violations in the United States, condemning human rights violations in Europe, especially against Muslims, and threatening to file a formal complaint at the UN charging its human rights rapporteur with doing Israel’s bidding.
About the only thing the Islamic Republic did not do was acknowledge any shortcomings in Iran’s conduct on human rights.
But the strangest part of the whole episode was that no one in Iran seemed to have read the UN report drafted by Ahmad Shaheed, the former foreign minister of the Maldive Islands. Shaheed did not accuse Iran of endless human rights violations. Instead, his report listed the many complaints he has received of violations, which he then said he wanted to investigate.
He did not endorse the charges against Iran, but pleaded with Iran to allow him to visit Iran and discuss the large volume of complaints he had received from Iranian citizens.
Shaheed says right on the first page of his submission, “The present report outlines the methodology that will guide the Special Rapporteur’s work.”
In Paragraph 11, he writes: “The Special Rapporteur has been contacted by a number of Iranian human rights and civil society actors, as well as international organizations, concerning the human rights situation in the Islamic Republic of Iran, and has conducted a number of consultations with them. Those testimonies and issues are included in the present report. The Special Rapporteur will seek the cooperation of the Iranian authorities in examining these cases and will report on the developments in his next report.”
In Paragraph 78, the final sentence of his report, Shaheed says: “The Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran once again requests that he be allowed to visit the country in order to develop his dialogue with the authorities and either substantiate or lay to rest allegations of human rights violations committed within its sovereign territory.”
Thus, Shaheed made very clear that he was not leveling any charges against Iran at this time but laying out the issues that had been presented to him and that he wished to discuss with the Islamic Republic.
Much of the international media, however, missed that point and took Shaheed’s list of issues as a list of conclusions.
But the Islamic Republic did not condemn the media for mischaracterizing Shaheed’s report. Instead, it mischaracterized Shaheed’s report. Why it did so remains unclear.
Some theorized that the response reflected incompetence and lack of professionalism on the part of regime officials who responded angrily without first reviewing the report. That theory has potential importance because so many critics of the US charges that Iran is behind an assassination plot in Washington have said such a plot was crude and unlike the conduct of Iran’s intelligence professionals who are characterized as smooth and knowledgeable.
On the other hand, some suspected that Iranian officials knew exactly what Shaheed had done and decided to adopt the media view in an effort to demean Shaheed and reduce his standing with UN diplomats, hoping that he would just be ignored in the future.
Whatever the rationale, the Islamic Republic gave Shaheed no breathing room.
Karim Abedi, a member of the Majlis Human Rights Committee, said, “The recent report of the UN rapporteur on Iran was one-sided and was prepared under the guidelines of international Zionism, to exert pressure on the Islamic Republic of Iran.” Abedi made this comment nine days after Shaheed’s report became public, plenty of time in which to have read the report and to know that his characterization of it as “one-sided” was not justified.
Abedi said the Majlis was considering filing a formal complaint against Shaheed with the United Nations.
Also speaking nine days after the report’s release, Iran’s deputy ambassador to the UN, Eshagh al-Habib, said in a written speech to the General Assembly’s Third Committee that Shaheed’s report consisted of “poorly sourced, exaggerated and outdated allegations.… Its content is absolutely unjustified, unwarranted and unacceptable for my country. It also lacks the principles of independence, non-selectivity and impartiality.”
Habib said the report was not even Shaheed’s but the product of the “political ambition of certain countries, in particular the United States and its European allies.”
He minced no words: “The US, as the main enemy of Iran, spares no effort to manipulate the international community with fabricated and misleading information. This country is better off to look and correct the dark history and record of its own grave violations of human rights, not only at home, but also abroad.”
Abedi said that Iran had “expressed its readiness to provide all the necessary information” to Shaheed. But Shaheed’s report says that while Iranian officials have said they wish to talk to him, no meeting has been arranged despite repeated requests by him. Shaheed was also diplomatic in not quoting public remarks by officials in Tehran saying he would never be allowed to enter Iran.
While Deputy Abedi blamed Zionists and Ambassador Habib blamed the United States for the report, Mohammad-Javad Larijani, the head of the Supreme Council for Human Rights within Iran’s Judiciary, announced that the report was actually the work of the Mojahedin-e Khalq. Using Iran’s favorite term for the group, hypocrites, Larijani said, “All the allegations he leveled against the Islamic establishment of Iran had been compiled by the hypocrites and opposition groups.”
“How,” Larijani asked, “can a special rapporteur tasked by an international organization prepare his report with such big lies? It is obvious that the human rights campaign against Iran is political and this was the reason for our opposition to allowing the special rapporteur to enter Iran.”
Larijani reiterated that Iran’s Islamic human rights standards are at odds with Western standards. “We cannot accept human rights dictated by the West, because we have accepted a religious regime,” he said. While some of Shaheed’s questions might involve Islamic standards, such as stoning, the bulk of the questions Shaheed raised involved such issues as torture to induce confessions, bans on public assembly, and the bar on construction of a Sunni mosque in Tehran.
Meanwhile, Sadeq Larijani, the chairman of the Judiciary, appointed Prosecutor General Gholam-Hossain Mohseni-Ejai to head a formal investigation into American human rights crimes with the goal of indicting the US government. He said one of the US human rights crimes to be prosecuted was the arrest of some Occupy Wall Street protesters. He did not say whether the trial would be sought in an Iranian or international court.