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Note: Shortly after writing this article, Mr. Tabarzadi, was arrested by Iranian authorities on January 15, 2014. Since then, the government of Canada through its foreign minister has sent a twitter demanding the freedom of Heshmat Tabarzadi and other political prisoners in Iran. There is now a petition demanding his freedom
at: .

By: Heshmat Tabarzadi

The major world powers namely 5+1 are trying hard to pursue the government of Iran join the rest of the international community, by taking advantage of the recent “Flexibilities” that have been shown by the supreme leader of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei and as implemented by President Hassan Rouhani.

Indeed, we have arrived at a significant and historic juncture. However, without a cautious and comprehensive effort moving forward, the road ahead towards a mutually beneficial and peaceful outcome will remain uncertain and elusive. Ever since the election of the President Rouhani, the number of executions in Iran has nevertheless increased substantially (nearly 400 executions since he took office). Keeping in mind that Iran already held the second highest record of executions after China (1st in the world as a percentage of the population), this represents an urgent human rights crisis.

In addition, the Iranian government has hundreds of political prisoners and prisoners of conscious including those such as Mr. Mir Hussein Mousavi, Mrs. Zahra Rahnavard and Mr. Mehdi Karoubi, who have been under house arrest since 2010, without any legal or court proceedings. Majority of Iranian political prisoners are sentenced solely due to the exercise of their rights to express their opinion or for peaceful assembly. The legitimacy of any ruling power is measured by its practice of observing and respecting the rights of its own people. In what follows, I briefly give an account of my personal experience living in Iran, which is not an isolated case. Hundreds of fellow Iranian political activists are experiencing a similar situation. Indeed, the lack of basic human rights and freedom in Iran reflects poorly on the prospect for the effective and peaceful resolution of the issues of the Iranian government with the international community. One cannot be addressed in the absence of the other.

My name is Heshmat Tabarzadi. I am an Iranian secular democrat human rights activist. I have been arrested several times on charges related to my activities, most recently after the green movement and the disputed election results of 2009. In October 2010, I was sentenced to eight years in prison, convicted of five charges of “insulting the Leader,” “insulting the President,” “propaganda against the system,” “gathering and colluding with intent to harm the state security,” and “disturbing public order.” I had already spent seven years of my life in prison, nearly three years of it in solitary confinement for my activities as a student leader. Additionally
I have spent another 4 years of my latest verdict and still have four more years remaining. I have spent every year of my life in prison since 1999 and while imprisoned I have been tortured on several different occasions. Meanwhile my different publications have been shut down, I have been denied the right to peaceful participation in two secular democratic and human rights organizations, and I have been prohibited from any social activities for 10 years.

I was recently released on a temporary leave with the condition of remaining silent, and until very recently I maintained my silence. However, the situation of the people and my country is such that I could no longer keep quiet and therefore I broke my silence and called for a united campaign demanding “No to executions and freedom of all political prisoners.” Shortly after, I received a phone call from the prosecutor’s office, demanding that I report back to the prison. Similar to my court proceedings and sentencing, this summoning was done outside of the legal frames, with the intent of silencing me, but I have chosen not to report to prison and instead am engaging in civil disobedience. My rights as stated in the international articles of the human rights (as well as the constitution of the Islamic Republic) have repeatedly been violated since 1999. If anyone should stand trial, it should be those who are in violation of denying not only my rights but the rights of many other political prisoners who have been denied of their most basic legal, civil and human rights.

The United Nations General Assembly recently approved Iranian President Rouhani’s proposal known as “A World without violence and extremism". (1). The Iranian leadership should begin by abiding by the terms of its own resolution, namely,

“that a primary responsibility of each State is to ensure a peaceful and violence-free life for its people, while fully respecting their human rights without distinction of any kind, …..and …..respect for and protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms of all persons as well as tolerance, the recognition and appreciation of others and the ability to live together with and to listen to others, form a sound foundation of any society and of peace.”

The United States and European Union may hope for a politically softer regime in Tehran as it happened in China despite its human rights record, but in a country such as Iran where the first declaration of human rights was created 2552 years ago, where only in the past 107 years two major freedom seeking revolutions have taken place, where today the most basic social freedoms such as how to dress and behave, are strictly limited and where a woman is considered half of a man, this is only a wishful thinking. Iranian people, although short lived, have experienced secular democracy on different occasions and they will not tolerate for too long the religious, social and political limitations forced upon them, even if the major powers chose to turn a blind eye on their civil and human rights. The question is, on which side of the history The United States, President Obama and the major world powers will stand this time?

The 2009 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to U.S. President Barack Obama for his "extraordinary efforts" to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples. This did not mean only peace with the governments but also meant consideration for the peace and human rights of “The People.”  Until the international community do not hold the government of Iran accountable for its actions against its own citizens, any agreements at the government levels while closing eyes to the fate of the Iranian nation and their legal , civil and human rights will
neither be lasting nor complied with, because a government which violates the legal rights of its own people under its own and international laws will not have any hesitation in violating any other accords and agreements. North Korea is a recent example of that. I therefore call for the leaders of the 5+1, the international community, organizations, activists and other government leaders to demand of the Iranian authorities to stop these senseless executions and to free all political prisoners. Mr. Nelson Mandela was recently honored by the international community as well as the Iranian government. However, Mr. Mandela’s struggles as a political activist and prisoner, only after being amplified by the pressures from the International community, resulted in his freedom and abolition of apartheid in South Africa. Today 50% of the Iranian population , the women, are facing gender apartheid; not to mention the violation of the basic rights of minorities, ethnicities and many others.

Today I am free with my family while you can make a difference, but tomorrow may be too late.

1- United Nations Official Document

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Comment Preferences

  •  A twitter ? (0+ / 0-)
    foreign minister has issued a twitter

    "please love deeply...openly and genuinely." A. M. H.

    by indycam on Sun Jan 19, 2014 at 09:59:04 AM PST

  •  While leaders of every nation should... (6+ / 0-) out violations of human rights, and these that you document are egregious, the P5+1 negotiating team is the wrong group to be doing that. The negotiations over Iran's nuclear program are complicated enough without adding this important matter to them.

    Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

    by Meteor Blades on Sun Jan 19, 2014 at 10:18:08 AM PST

  •  Just to be clear, when you state... (0+ / 0-)

    ...Iranian authorities arrested Tabarzadi, is that national authorities? I have a co-worker who goes home to Iran every Summer, and she indicates that some Provinces are more doctrinaire than others.

    Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. --Martin Luther King Jr.

    by Egalitare on Sun Jan 19, 2014 at 10:54:04 AM PST

    •  National Authorities Indeed (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      " Shortly after, I received a phone call from the prosecutor’s office, demanding that I report back to the prison. "

      According to the reports posted by his family, three men forced in to his home (few day later) and took him away by the order of the prosecutor office.

  •  There is a split (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Assaf, sandbox

    in the Iranian opposition on how to view the P5+1 discussions.  Some support, and some oppose.  

    Heshmatollah Tabarzadi and Emadeddin Baghi, Iranian dissidents who have both recently been in prison, had strikingly divergent advice for Hollande. Baghi urged the president to support the nuclear deal. In strong language, he said France’s earlier opposition to the agreement with Iran “makes the task of Iran’s human rights activists even harder.” Tabarzadi, a leader of the 1999 student uprisings who has been considered a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International, took a different tone. He thanked Hollande for standing in solidarity with Iran’s people in opposing the deal.
    Daily Beast

    I was under the impression that most of the surge executions in Iran are for  drug related offenses.

    I thank the diarist for reminding us of the plight of prisoners of conscience.  

    •  Reformists are in prison too! (0+ / 0-)

      The reformists have hoped to assume power and create a "softer" Islamic Republic for the past 35 years. A wishful thinking that Tabarzadi and the secular democrat opposition do not believe in; as it has been proven again and again from the 8 years of president Khatami to the 2009 rigged elections and the crush of the green movement.

      Tabarzadi and the growing secular movement believe that a regime that is trying to sell "heroic flexibility" in foreign policy, in order to relieve the sanctions, while showing its hard fist to its own citizens can not be trusted : " One cannot be addressed in the absence of the other"

      Examples of history weigh on his side.

      Not even a mullah trusts another, because he knows that the other also takes its mandate from the above and therefore has no respect for the worldly pacts and conventions!

    •  You decide :-) (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      The whole Sharia based judiciary system is flawed and therefore so are the verdicts.

      If Iran executes more of it's citizens than any other country,  only one of these two possibilities may exist: Somehow Iranians have more villeins than any other nation, or their government is the villein!

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