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MP: Human Rights a Tool in Hands of Arrogant Powers

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TEHRAN, July 16 (ICANA) – The appointment of a special UN human rights rapporteur for Iran and Tehran’s apparent refusal to accept Ahmed Shaheed, a former foreign minister of the Maldives, motivated the Persian newspaper ‘Iran’ to call on Tehran lawmaker Zohreh Elahian, who is also secretary of the Majlis Human Rights Committee.
Saturday, July 16, 2011 1:45:12 PM
MP: Human Rights a Tool in Hands of Arrogant Powers

Elahian says human rights has emerged as a pretext for fulfilling the political goals of bullying powers and that is why Iran will not allow Dr. Shaheed to visit. She says when a rapporteur comes with a political agenda, he will certainly be obliged to present a politicized report, which would go against the truth.

Excerpts of this interview:


Q: What is the mandate of your committee?

The Majlis Human Rights Committee is a subgroup of the Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Commission. We have been seeing that human rights issues are being used against Iran on the international scene and by organizations that issue resolutions against us. This compelled the parliament to also become active. In other countries they may not have such committees, and this is a plus point for the Majlis. However, other countries may have their own national forums for human rights or may be also a minister of human rights.


Q: How does this committee interact with relevant institutions in other countries and groups active in this field inside Iran?

The most important duty of our committee is to activate parliamentary diplomacy. We are following up plans to cooperate with human rights bodies in other countries. Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani has supported the notion that we discuss human rights issues with lawmakers in other countries. At the home front, we have links with the judiciary’s human rights union, the Foreign Ministry’s Human Rights Directorate and NGOs are active on the international scene.

For collaboration with human rights organizations outside the country, the judiciary’s Human Rights office has made plans jointly with the Foreign Ministry. Far from a political climate and merely in the context purely of human rights, we can discuss ideological issues with other countries so that we can present our views. The same has been welcomed by other countries. When a Danish delegation came to Iran, it was interesting for its members to have a dialogue with Islamic thinkers and religious authorities and preachers in Qom. They said they were interested in knowing more about Islam and the status of human rights in this divine religion.


Q: What human rights issues do you normally pursue in such meetings (with foreigners) and what are the results?

Face to face talks have the advantage that we raise issues without hostility and in a friendly climate. Ambiguities and problems related to human rights issues are tabled and views of all parties are known and debated. They are aware that Islam has strong and legal foundations when it comes to the protection of the rights of mankind and even animals, the environment, students, teachers, children, women… and that we define human dignity on the basis of Islamic tenets.

In the Islamic faith humans and humanity have a lofty status. We told the Danish delegation that Imam Sajjad (AS), the Fourth Imam of Shiite Muslims, has a treatise in which the most accurate and deepest legal foundations for mankind are enshrined . We intend to translate the treatise into English so that it would be present in our interaction with the outside world on human rights issues.


Q: What are the important common points in all the human rights resolutions passed against Iran?

The crux of the matter is that there is a full-scale war behind the scenes during human rights meetings and subjects raised in the meetings are heavy on politics with little or no time for real human rights issues. We regularly see US schemes against our country, including lobbying with other states and pledges of financial help to convince them to vote against Iran.

America, Britain and the Zionist regime spend huge sums of money and grant privileges to some countries to support resolutions against Iran.

These powers offer huge bribes to other countries and actually buy and sell their votes! Despite all the slogans that they chant the atmosphere in the UN Human rights Council is normally similar to warfare in relation to votes of countries.


Q: In many anti-Iran resolutions issues such as executions and the violation of the rights of women and children are singled out for special criticism. What is your response?

They have so far raised several problems, many of which we have not accepted. For example, the high number of death sentences. We say that over 70 percent of the executed are drug smugglers. With the extended military presence of the US and Britain in Afghanistan production of drugs has jumped by 20 times. Smugglers continue their trade by transiting narcotics via Iran to Europe. Instead of opposing the death sentences handed out to the traffickers, they should collaborate with us because Iran is a strong bulwark and has long curbed the flow of illegal drugs into the Western world.

Regarding women’s rights, the Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei on the recent Women’s Day pointed to a key aspect that demands serious attention. This indeed implies that our laws are not perfect…We need to revise such legal constraints and pass more effective legislation.

But, that they use this (legal constraints) as a pretext and say women’s rights are not observed in Iran. This obviously is not acceptable to us. When they see the role and progress of women in Iran over the past 30 years, they are astonished. Women have moved forward because of their pursuit of higher education. Today 60 percent of students in our universities and centers of higher learning are women.

We have female nuclear scientists and women who are active in the military domain and in the Defense Ministry. We also have women pilots and this shows that women have attained higher standards of learning and improved their careers without facing hurdles. We do not accept their stance that Iran is a violator of women’s rights. Take the conditions in Saudi Arabia. Recently a woman’s head was cut off with a sword in public in that Arab country. And remember that Saudi women are banned from driving. But, you hardly hear international organizations making noises about human rights abuses in that country. This is yet another indication that their intentions are largely politicized and have nothing to do with protecting women’s rights.


Q: What has happened that the UN Human Rights Council has now decided to send a special rapporteur to Iran? What is the problem with allowing Dr. Shaheed to come and prepare a report?

This was a rather awkward trend. When we were active within the framework of preparing Universal Periodic Review (UPR) reports and presented our reports to the UN and cooperated with the Human Rights Council, Canada suddenly drafted a resolution and the US, Britain and Israel cooperated with it and a resolution against Iran was prepared and presented.

The General Assembly and the UN Human Rights Council endorsed the resolution to exert political pressures on Tehran. This coincided with the period when Iran was gradually emerging as a successful paradigm for the region.

These states tried to raise doubts about Iran among their public opinion and by issuing the resolution sought to undermine Iran’s status and popularity. The resolution was passed outside the framework of human rights and in an illegal manner. Even the framework and the structure of human rights were pushed aside in the resolution, which was quite unusual. Within the framework of that resolution, a special rapporteur for Iran was appointed.

A special rapporteur is someone who comes and prepares a report on all related matters. It is unlike a rapporteur for a specific subject who has a specific mandate without any restrictions.

We have no problems with Ahmed Shaheed, who is a non-Arab Muslim from the Maldives. The point is that he was assigned after behind-the-scene political goals were set. They want to exert political pressure on Iran to force it retreat from its stances, but the Islamic system has always shown that it does not succumb to oppression. The fact is that such pressure tactics more often produce opposite results.


Q: When we can have rapporteurs for a variety of issues, what is the problem in accepting a special human rights rapporteur and letting him do his job?

We have nothing to worry about presenting a human rights report and have on several occasions presented our own documents. Navi Pillay, the UN Humans Rights Commissioner has been invited to Iran and can come and see the human rights situation at close range. That is a positive approach toward a meaningful cooperation. We have no fears…but will not accept political pressure nor politicized resolutions.


Q: Are you suggesting that a rapporteur who has political intentions would definitely pursue a political agenda in his report?

Even if Shaheed compiles the best report, he will subsequently be subjected to political pressure. This is similar to the nuclear dispute.

On several occasions we responded to the claims they made about our peaceful nuclear program. However, after we presented our positions new ambiguities emerged. Ultimately we said we had responded to all ambiguities in a documented manner. In the G5+1 nuclear talks we said all the ambiguities had been addressed and we would no longer hold talks on the nuclear issue. It is natural that dragging on the talks and creating new ambiguities are nothing but new tools to exert pressure. We will not submit to the pressures of bullies. We will keep links with other countries and the UN. But when we realize that the Zionists and the US are managing the stage we walk away.


Q: One of the complaints seen almost in all anti-Iran human rights resolutions is about the violation of women’s rights. What do you think does your role as a woman who heads a parliamentary human rights group conveys to the world? Would you like to share any memories with our readers?

My presence is indeed like pouring water on the flames fanned by the Western media without uttering a single word. When nations see that Iranian women are active and even members of parliament, head of a Majlis committee or hold other high public office, they will realize the bias and lies of the Western media.

In a visit to Greece a few months ago, it was expected that we meet a female minister. The night before, our ambassador in Athens said that we should be fully prepared as this will not be a friendly meeting and definitely they will ask thorny questions about issues such as Sakineh Mohammadi ( who is on death row for killing her husband).

There was a feeling that that meeting would not be in our interest. When I went into the meeting and showed my card, in which my responsibilities and activities were mentioned, to the Greek woman minister the overall climate of the meeting changed.

Instead of raising questions on human rights the meeting turned into a session for exchanging grievances. They asked for our help regarding women’s rights in Greece and other issues such as what could be done to curb the violence against women in that European country.

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