World Must Sustain Push against Iran's Human Rights Abuses

As the United States and the international community meet Iran's diplomats and hope for the nuclear crisis to be resolved, another critical front should be opened: an investigation into the Iranian regime for abuse of human rights of its own people.

I don't understand how democracies stood by idly since last June as the Basij militia beat, tortured, and assassinated protesters. The U.S. administration claimed that its silence was meant to avoid being perceived as "meddling" in Iran's internal affairs. But didn't America and its allies "meddle" deeply in Yugoslavia, South Africa, and Haiti's "internal affairs" when human rights were aggressed?

It seems that not siding with civil society in Iran as it is brutally oppressed by the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei regime is more about a commitment to cutting a deal with the Pasdaran within what has been announced an "engagement" doctrine by the administration. We'll revisit this labyrinth. 

Luckily, many legislators in the free world do not agree on deal-cutting with oppressive regimes. On Sept. 22, members of Congress, the European Parliament, and the Canadian Parliament signed a historic document condemning Iran's continued human rights abuses.

"This is historic because it is the first document signed by a group of international lawmakers addressing the Iranian regime's human rights atrocities against the Iranian people," said Rep. Sue Myrick, R-N.C., who is also the co-chair of the U.S. Bipartisan House Caucus on Counterterrorism. "We are keeping a close watch on the Iran nuclear weapons situation, but this will not cause us to forget the human rights atrocities committed by the Iranian regime. We say to the Iranian people who continue their fight for freedom, ‘We have not forgotten you. We stand with you.' "

Jaime Mayor Oreja, who is vice president for majority party at the European Parliament, said "it is the first time that legislators from both sides of the Atlantic are coming together to address the threats of jihadi terror. We are pleased to have accomplished this first step and other important steps will follow."

Members of Congress who signed this declaration include: Myrick, Kay Granger, R-Texas, Paul Broun, R-Ga., Bill Shuster, R-Pa., Ed Royce, R-Calif., and former Congressman Bud Cramer of Alabama.

Members of the European Parliament who co-signed include: Oreja (Spain), a former Minister of Interior, Corien Worthmann-Kool (Netherlands), Timothy Kirkhope MEP (U.K.), Othmar Karas (Austria), Marian Jean Marinescu (Romania), and Ioannis Kasoulides (Cyprus), a former foreign minister.

Canadian MP Irwin Cotler, a former minister of justice, also joined the delegations and signed the declaration.

The letter will be co-signed by a wider range of lawmakers from the three legislatures in Europe, Canada and the United States, from members of parties on the conservative, liberal and progressive sides of the chambers.

The declaration calls on:
  • The government of Iran to put an immediate end to the abuses of its citizens' human rights.
  • The U.N. secretary-general to dispatch a team of investigators to Iran to inquire about the human rights abuses and report their findings to the international community. We urge this team to visit political detainees in prisons and meet with the leaders of the opposition and the demonstrators to present a full picture of abuse.
  • The United States, European Union, Canada, and the United Nations, to investigate the so-called "Basij militia" for alleged abuse of human rights.
  • The United Nations Human Rights Council to freeze the membership of Iran until a full investigation by the council and the U.N. secretary-general on the mass scale abuse of human rights in Iran is completed; including the identification of those inside the Iranian regime responsible for issuing the orders to commit the atrocities. Iran should not be allowed to remain on the Human Rights Council when it does not defend human rights within its own border.
This is an important first step, as elected representatives within democracies on both sides of the Atlantic are reaching out to the oppressed Iranian people. This is the free world's first move to investigate the Iranian regime on human rights abuse. In the end, as the world will be convinced that the oil-rich authoritarians in Tehran won't budge on their expansionist agenda, what will be left would be a reliance on how Iranians will rise against this dangerous regime. All will depend on how and when the international community would help the forthcoming democratic revolution.

Dr. Walid Phares is the author of the "War of Ideas: Jihadism against Democracy" and a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies