Human rights in Iran under the shadow of COVID-19

The pandemic has affected many sectors and activities around the globe, and we are still unsure how long it will stay with us. One area that is barely noticed, yet most heavily affected, is human rights, writes Mohsen Behzad Karimi.

Last November, the Iranian regime experienced one of the most widespread uprisings in recent decades. It soon became one of the bloodiest crackdowns in recent Iranian history.

The Islamic ‘vigilante’ groups and militias, along with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and other parallel intelligence, and brutal policing and suppression forces created by the regime of Ayatollahs to ensure the continuation of its four-decade iron fist reign, launched a coordinated, widespread and merciless crackdown on peaceful protesters in the early hours of the uprising.

However, it took the security forces several days to regain control and silence the protesters.

It resulted in a massive number of casualties, extrajudicial killings and arbitrary arrests. Many of the victims are still unaccounted for, and the magnitude of the crimes and violations is still unknown.

The demonstration, which began due to the sharp increase in fuel prices, rapidly turned into a nationwide uprising. Overnight, it became a major threat to one of the most notorious dictatorial regimes of the 21st century.

At the time, the footage and news quickly went viral due to the level of aggression and gruesome crackdown. It attracted international attention on an unprecedented scale like never before.

Several days into the uprising, everything suddenly went silent due to the heavy military presence on the streets in major cities and towns, the use of heavy machine guns and group arrests. This was compounded by the massive number of victims who were shot dead by live ammunition, including school children.

For example, due to the number of casualties in the centre of a tiny district in Tehran province called Qods City, the local medical examiner’s morgue was allowed by authorities to release only ten bodies a day for burials.

Victims’ families were under pressure to hold private ceremonies to prevent further fuelling of the uprising due to increased public anger in responses to the high number of casualties.

Many of the victims are still unaccounted for in official reports, even by international bodies, due to the lack of access and the Islamic regime’s systematic destruction and wiping of the evidence. Many are still missing, and the fate of those who were arrested remain unknown.

At the time international attention increased like never before; even at a rare event at the European parliament, the issue became a hot topic that many of the regime apologists could not resist.

But unfortunately, shortly after, not only the uprising itself but the fate of those arrested and justice for those who perished forgotten by the media and international community.

However, this time, negligence is not only due to the political interests that usually persuade many Western politicians, governments and even international bodies and human right organisations to ignore the crimes and violations committed by the Islamic regime in Iran, but also due to COVID-19. Consequently, the pandemic is also to blame.

The pandemic not only covered up the crimes of the Islamic republic in Iran during the uprising but also helped the regime to carry out executions and hand out death sentences and long-term prison sentences in its infamous five-minute-long court sessions to those who were arrested during the uprising without worrying even about ineffective condemnations.

Ignored by the international community and supported by like-minded bandits, the violations which took place on a carte blanche provided by COVID-19 and in the absence of the loud opportunist and biased human right defenders.

Not only did the Islamic regime in Iran manage to cover up the gruesome crimes it committed, such as drowning dissidents in dams who were arrested during the uprising and torturing others to death, it also seized the opportunity that the pandemic brought to act more outrageously than ever. It waged a psychological war against the Iranian people by spreading fear and terror.

The recent execution of the Iranian wrestler Navid Afkari was part of the same campaign of terror.

The alarming number of arrests and forced disappearances suggests that this practice will be continued by the regime both publicly and in secret, especially considering the opportunity that has been created by the pandemic.

Except for a few publicly-announced sentences, we are unsure how many others have been executed or received similar sentences, or how many of those who were arrested back in November have been subjected to unlawful prosecution and been given long-term, medium-term or even death sentences.

The Islamic regime ‘judiciary’ execution machine has a long history of fabricating crimes to make its extrajudicial killing lawful according to Islamic law. In this way, it is justifiable to certain naïve members of the international community.

The international community’s approach towards the violations committed by the Islamic regime in Iran has never been proportional. The regime never feared human rights condemnations, since this did not affect its interests as much as other sanctions.

In addition to the impunities that benefit the Islamic regime, rather than adequate punishment for the constant violations of human rights, the pandemic has involuntarily helped the Islamic regime in Iran, as well as other similar dictatorial regimes across the globe, to cover up its crimes and even accelerate crackdowns more extensively and fearlessly on its political prisoners and ordinary civilians.

The global pandemic gave us the chance to experience and observe the loopholes that affect the most vulnerable classes in our societies during these times.

Political prisoners are one of these vulnerable classes. By experiencing these dark and dreadful times, the international bodies in charge of observing and upholding human rights should become more committed overall and introduce a mechanism to watch more carefully for abuse in times of crisis.

The international bodies should be made aware of how fragile the reporting system is in such times, how to tackle the issue to prevent future opportunities for brutal regimes and how to stop them from using global chaos as a cover-up for their atrocities.

It is never too late to hold the perpetrators accountable, and it is essential to not allow crises to become an opportunity for fearless abuse and violations.

Human rights violations or any other norms and values of our global society cannot be used as collateral damage in times of crisis.

Source » eureporter

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