HRC Op-Ed Published In National Post: “Iran’s Brutality Erodes Credibility On International Stage”

On May 8, Iran announced that it had executed two men who were accused of spreading blasphemy and promoting atheism on social media. While the executions were widely condemned, they are only the latest in a long string of human rights abuses by the Iranian regime. In addition to abusing its own people, Tehran also actively funds Islamist terrorism and acts as a nefarious presence throughout the Middle East.

It is of critical importance, therefore, that when news media outlets report on Iran’s actions, readers, viewers and listeners are given a full view of what Iran’s regime does to its own people and beyond, so the general public can gain a complete picture of the true face of Tehran’s leaders.

Read HRC Executive Director Mike Fegelman’s op-ed that was published in the National Post on May 29.


Iran’s Brutality Erodes Credibility On International Stage

On May 8, the Iranian government hanged two men it accused of expressing blasphemous views on social media.

Yousef Mehrad and Sadrollah Fazeli Zare were convicted of insulting the Islamic Prophet Muhammad, as well as desecrating the Qur’an, the Islamic holy book. Additionally, they were accused of helping to promote atheism on social media platforms.

While appalling, the executions represent only the latest in a long string of state-sanctioned deaths for Iranian civilians expressing their personal views or opinions.

Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, the director of non-governmental organization Iran Human Rights, labelled the executions “a cruel act by a medieval regime.”

While the executions may shock Canadians at large, they are in line with the theocratic and totalitarian nature of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

In 2022, the Iranian regime executed 582 people, an enormous jump over the 333 recorded executions the year prior.

Since coming to power in a violent coup in 1979, Iran’s fundamentalist leaders have sought to shape the country in the image of its extremist Islamist ayatollahs, and in Iran, freedom of assembly and freedom of expression are all but nonexistent.

In September 2022, 22-year-old Mahsa Amini of Iran was arrested by authorities in Tehran for not wearing her Islamic hijab (headscarf) as Iranian law requires. She later died in hospital, and while Iranian authorities claim she suffered a heart attack, witnesses say they saw her being savagely beaten.

Iranian authorities didn’t stop there. They continued to charge more women with crimes for daring to appear without approved headdress, and they arrested Iranian journalists and kept them incarcerated for extended periods of time just for reporting on the widespread popular protests that followed Amini’s death.

Then there’s the case of how more than 1,200 girls were poisoned by toxic gas in Iran since November 2022, in what many saw as a deliberate attempt to force their schools to shut down.

Iran’s grotesque and repeated abuses of human rights have not stopped at its own borders.

The Islamic Republic of Iran actively arms, trains and funds regional terrorist organizations like Hezbollah, the Lebanon-based Shia Islamist group and Gaza-based Palestinian Islamic Jihad, both of which possess enormous rocket arsenals. At the time of writing, Islamic Jihad has fired more than 1,500 rockets at Israeli civilians while hiding behind Palestinian civilians — a double war crime.

In recent months, the Iranian military has harassed foreign vessels operating in international waters. On May 3, for example, the Iranian navy seized an oil tanker in an overt case of maritime piracy. 

Despite these widespread assaults on the human rights of Iranian citizens, and on countries throughout the Middle East, the Iranian regime continues to enjoy a significant degree of credibility on the international stage.

Iran is a member of the United Nations General Assembly, where it possesses the right to fully engage with peers as an equal member of the international community.

In 2015, Iran and members of the international community signed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, also known as the Iran Nuclear Deal, which held that Iran would begin to limit its nuclear program to peaceful endeavours, in exchange for an easing of economic sanctions.

After Iran repeatedly violated the agreement, the United States withdrew from the accord in 2017, and reinstated sanctions on Iran. Consequently, despite the agreement remaining intact with the other signatories, the Islamic Republic soon violated its end of the bargain in retaliation, increasing its uranium enrichment levels and stockpiles. In 2021, Rafael Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, raised concerns that Iran was violating the agreement. 

“After many months, Iran has not provided the necessary explanation for the presence of the nuclear material particles” at three locations in question, he said.

Today, while negotiations between Iran and global powers are on hiatus regarding a potential renewed nuclear deal, officials such as U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken continue to say that talks are not necessarily dead, but are merely on hold.

Iran continues to wantonly abuse the rights of its own citizens, fund Islamist terrorism, destabilize the Mideast and pursue a nuclear weapons program. In doing so, it’s not always portrayed as the dangerous and volatile regime that it is.

While it may be tempting to treat these incidents as separate, disparate news items, it must be understood that they are all part of the same ideologically driven outlook and playbook from the Iranian regime, a malign actor domestically and worldwide.

National Post

Mike Fegelman is the Executive Director of HonestReporting Canada, a non-profit organization ensuring fair and accurate Canadian media coverage of Israel.

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