Millions Still Oppressed and Hidden
It’s inevitable that in Iran’s case, the issue of human rights will get mixed up in any diplomatic effort. Iran’s human rights record is medieval: The mullah’s regime leaves very little room for basic freedoms that people in the West can hardly imagine doing without.
Hassan Rouhani’s election ticket was his promise to relieve the Iranian people from the economic effects of the sanctions by being more moderate to the West. Unfortunately his moderation is not as noticeable internally. From slowing the internet to accelerating the rate of hangings, it seems that human rights in Iran are no different than from under Ahmadinejad’s regime.
Millions of Iranians are still oppressed daily into giving up their civil, political, speech, legal, economic, social, cultural and religious rights. Unfortunately for them, they are unseen behind the regime’s walls and Rouhani is focused on juggling hardliners and the West.
Some Victims Naturally Stand Out
Millions of Iranians may be oppressed but none are Saeed Abedini, an American citizen and a former-Muslim-turned-Christian pastor who had set up approximately 100 house churches in Iran until the Ahmadinejad crackdown in 2005. He moved to the US but kept on visiting Iran. In his last trip in July 2012, he was arrested by the IRGC for “threatening national security,” tortured and sentenced in January 2013 to eight years in jail.
And then the nuclear deal arrived and suddenly Abedini’s name hit the nuclear negotiation table. Requests were made and heard. Promises and deadlines were not made.
Rouhani’s Choices Slimming
Will Rouhani view Abedini as a possible symbol for his promised moderacy on human rights as well – or will he stay focused on being a moderate only on foreign diplomacy? And if he does ignore the call, will the US turn human rights into a deal breaker?
Time will tell.