Many people have recently expressed horror witnessing the post-election turmoil and violence in Iran on tv newscasts and on various internet sites such as twitter and youtube.
The haunting image especially of the young 26 year old woman, Neda with blood pouring out of her onto the streets and the close-ups of her death, not only shocked, but disgusted most people. According to news sources from Currentnews.com “No one is sure who shot her, but many think it was the basji.”Women whose rights have been denied in Iran are now and have been at the forefront of the demonstrations. According to Current, women need permission from their husbands in order to get passports, they are denied the right to abortions and pre-marital sex is illegal. ” 75% of university students are women; women lacking rights are leading the charge.” Iran’s population is mostly comprised of youth,” “60% of the population is under the age of 30 with the median age being 26. “Young people find ways to do what they want to do, they just do it in hiding.” “Being young in Iran is to defy these rules.” according to Currentnews.com
One young Iranian interviewed by Current said about life in Iran,” Life is hard here in every respect. Unemployment is 17% . There is a huge economic divide between the rich and the poor.”
It is thought that these are the largest protests since 1979-(-current.com).
Images of torture, people being shot, and tear gassed shown on websites like twitter and clips on CNN were difficult and painful for most people to watch..
Yet through it all, many people in the U.S. and around the world are left wondering, why are governments allowed to victimize and brutalize their own people in this day and age while the rest of the world simply sits idly by comfortably watching these events transpire on their computer screens and television sets..
Where is the United Nations Security Council, the United States, the G8 or any of the international human rights groups during the midst of killing, torture and arrest of innocent people? Where is the Church and its leaders when human rights violations occur accross the globe. Even the bible clearly states ,”faith without works is dead.”
For many the instinct to save and protect in the midst of danger comes automatically and instinctually because it is the human element within humanity, the heart and soul of what it means for us to be human to step in and save, rescue or protect the innocent. Why then when people do this on an individual basis it is an acceptable practice, yet as a world collectively we are unable to act in such a way.
A spokesperson from the U.N. Press office stated that the U.N. Security Council is the only arm within the United Nations that has the authority to act in these situations. Yet, the Council has not met or discussed the post election violence in Iran. Currently, the head of the U.N. Security Council is the Ambassador from Uganda. The head of the council rotates on a monthly basis. The council currently only acts in situations that affect “international security.” and they generally don’t act in siutations like this one where there is only one country involved.
The way the process works is that a member state or a group of states(countries) can contact the General Asembly to request that the security Council meet and discuss the post- election violence in Iran or that they can request that a n investigation be done in regard to human rights violations through the Human Rights Council of the U.N..
Apparently according to the U.N. Security Coordinator’s office,” Iran is on the Security Council agenda, but only in regard to the threat of nuclear weapons. The Security Council is planning on discussing Iran, but only in regard to the threat of its development of nuclear weaponary. The issue of violent crackdowns on demonstrators or those hundreds of people who are currently arrested and detained by the government are currently not on the table for discussion. Some options for citizen action I was told might be to contact the Office of the President of the General Assembly, or the Human Rights Council in Geneva and ask for an investigation and that the general assembly take up a human rights investigation on this matter.
Amnesty international is very concerned that those officials, journalists and activists who are currently detained are at risk for torture or execution. Elise Auerbach of Amnesty International expressed her concerns about Iran saying,” Amnesty International has been working on human rights violations in Iran for many years. We’ve had concerns about major human rights violations. Amnesty International is not allowed to go to Iran, even though we were asked to.” Yet she says,”We always remind them that as U.N. members they are oblidged to uphold the U.N. declaration of human rights. We support what human rights activists are doing in Iran. We target our activities to the government of Iran. Our concerns about excessive use of force are still there. There have been reports of people trying to leave flowers on Neda’s grave that have been beaten. If more than three or four people are seen together the Bajii start beating them. The Iranian government will not let Amnesty Inernational into Iran .The IRC or International Committee of the Red Cross is the only human rights monitor allowed in the country. Other Human Rights organizations have asked the U.N. to carry out investigations into human rights violations. Certainly the concerns about human rights violations have been raised by many people. “In Iranian law there are legal means used to target peacefull dissent. It carries the death penalty. The Iranian government has tried to extract public confessions from people. We have a real concern that prominent officials are being tortured and the confessions are being used against them. There’s been a number of executions in Iran over the last couple of years. “We obviously have to be very creative in our techniques as to what we do. We will write to the E.U (European Union) to take stronger stands against human rights violations.” We were pleased that through a concerted effort to release Iranian American Journalist Roxanne Celebera that she was released. She has thanked Amnesty International. Our major concern right now continues to be for the people arrested. These people are at great risk of being tortured. There are reports saying they are being tortured.
Yet, the Iranian government is not indifferent to world opinion. They may appear to be defiant, but if they didn’t care about public opinion they would not be trying to shut down media coverage of these events to the rest of the world.
Ms. Auerbach expressed some hope in the situation saying.” It’s a matter of combining our efforts of all the activists . It’s important to show the people in Iran that we are in solidarity with them. Amnesty USA has had several rallies and public events.
A Whitehouse official said,”The President is committed to direct diplonmacy and he has called for them to accept this invitation and wants to use this as a means of discussing various issues with the Iranians. ”
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently interviewed on Globovision TV on July 7th had this to say about the overall situation evolving in Iran. Her views mirrored President Obama’s opinion that although these human rights violations are disturbing and must be addressed in the form of verbal condemnation and sanctions that the greater issue is the threat the world faces should Iran become endowed with nuclear capabilities in the near future. Secretary of State Clinton seemed to stress that increasing sanctions on Iran would be a tactic she would recommend in getting the Iranian regime to change it’s behavior in regard to human rights violations.
“Well, I think that we have seen in the last few weeks that Iran has not respected its own democracy. It has taken actions against its own citizens for peacefully protesting what they viewed as irregularities in the voting process. And I think it’s not a very smart position to align oneself with a regime that is being rejected by so many of their own people. We obviously are concerned about Iran’s regime, the pursuit of nuclear weapons, which would be very destabilizing in the Middle East and beyond, the support for terrorism that Iran still pursues.
“We are willing to engage, so we would never tell another country you cannot do business with the regime of Iran in order to figure out ways of helpingto change their behavior. But we think it is not in the best interst of the world to be doing business with Iran to promote the regime. That is not smart. And so even though we are cautiously pursuing a policy of engagement, we are doing it with our eyes opened. And we understand that given the problems that Iran has just demonstrated, it may not be possible, in which case, we would ask the world to join us in imposing even stricter sanctions on Iran to try to change the behavior of the regime.”
A spokesperson from the U.S. State Department agreed ,” We basically want to see peaceful conclusionsand we want the demonstrations within Iran to be peaceful. We still continue to hold out the possibility of a future exchange.”
We have seen other similar events in recent years like genocide in Rwanda and Bosnia wherre the world did little or nothing while innocent people were being slaughtered, and the holocaust where people didn’t act initially because they couldn’t believe such atrocities could actually be taking place.
Given the burecratic slow motion that institutions of all kinds practice during their day to day operations, surely there must be some sort of syastem that could be devised within the U.N. or if not the U.N. some peacekeeping rescuing international force that would iimmediately act when force is used and lives are being lost.
Surely, there should be such a viable peacekeeping force that through world agreement that this group would have the right and the authority to prevent senseless slaughter and brutalization directed at any one group of people, and if there is no such existing group, maybe now is the time to start one.
Rahul Rata, came to this country last Febuary from India. He is in the United States on a student visa. Rata has mixed feelings about international intervention. “It’s good at some point, but not always. If there is a conflict between them, a third person would have some effect, but they still have to realize and still find their own solution.The U.N. should serve as a mediator and invite them to a meeting.”
Naweed Sharifi currently of Rochester, and originally from Afghanistan expressed disappointment in the way the U.N currently operates in cases of violence and with how it did not help until recently in Afghanistan.” It’s just like words- no actions-(the U.N.) The U.N. that’s the only thing that’s responsible for everything. We had no solution for 30 years in Afghanistan. During our civil war millions of people were killed and millions migrated to other countries because of the taliban. There wasn’t a solution for our country until 9/11. My entire family went to Pakistan until the Taliban regime was collapsed. Once they were collapsed we went back and then left in 2006. I think the U.N. should do more to help- they could’ve sent international troops in to stop the war like they have sent herer now.They could’ve gone there 30 years ago to save millions of people’s lives and save the millions of people who migrated. Anywhere there is instability, they should go in and find the root of the instability and solve it. If one country goes in, that’s wrong, but the United Nations should go in to help because the U.N. is a mixture of all people of different countries.”
Yet. local Honeoye, New York residents overall seemed to disagree with any international intervention in conflicts such as these.
Margaret Bond of Honeoye remarked,” I don’t think we can get involved because every nation is a soverign nation. I think we can do something with the journalists, but I don’t think we should get involved.”
Mary Turner of Canadice, New York believed similarly. “We were just talking before you came in about Iraq. We feel it’s not right for us to impose our standards on another country.”
Audrey Carrier of Honeoye, New York felt the same,” As far as America goes, I think we need to be aware, but stay out of it. I agree that no one should be harmed or killed in a peaceful demonstration, but they just have to go through that struggle. Do I want anyone to get killed, of course not. We fought for our rights and people died for that and people were condemned for that. Thank god for the Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence. Those countries;they have to stand up.” There’s not enough business here. People are not getting jobs and not getting money.”
Yet no matter what your view the question remains… how many more people have to die before the world wakes up out of its complacent slumber and does something meaningful and immediate to help during conflicts where innocent lives are being lost?
” There’s so much potential for Iran to restore relations with the United States and the world.”
Amnesty International Spokesperson.