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Iran and UNHRC: When Tyranny Plays Victim

File photo: A session of UN Human Rights Council in Geneva

On February 28, the United Nations Human Rights Council started its forty-ninth session. Delegations from 47 member states are expected to discuss a topic that needs to be central to the international community’s agenda: human rights.

Although the shadow of the Russian invasion of Ukraine currently looms large over international politics and the UNHRC session itself, ongoing rights violations and statements from present member states at the summit were not of lesser importance. In particular, the remarks of the Iranian regime’s delegation spoke volumes, not about the real human rights situation in Iran, but rather about the regime itself.

When the Covid-19 pandemic started to spread across Asia and the Middle East, the regime expelled French medical teams from Iran and accelerated Mahan Air travels to China despite the dangers of further spreading of the virus. Later, Ali Khamenei, the regime’s Supreme Leader, banned all reliable, WHO-approved vaccines from the United States and the United Kingdom at the height of the pandemic. As a result of these criminal and inhumane policies, over 515,000 people in Iran have lost their lives so far to Covid-19.

And yet, at the UNHRC session, the Iranian government’s deputy for international affairs and human rights, Kazem Gharibabadi, blamed the West for the high death toll among Iranian citizens during the Covid-19 pandemic, accusing the United States in particular for “preventing the country’s access to essential medicines and medical supplies” and “blocking the transfer of humanitarian aid to Tehran in times of natural disasters and the coronavirus pandemic”.

Reports about the mistreatment of Afghan refugees in Iran or recruiting them as cannon fodder in proxy wars waged in Yemen or Syria have also been published worldwide. Major news outlets regularly report about drug trafficking carried out by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and its Lebanese proxy Hezbollah. This is done to secure illicit financial sources to fund the regime’s dangerous and destructive meddling across the Middle East. Unsurprisingly, Tehran’s spokesman and chief propagandist at the UNHRC think differently.

Asserting that “three branches of the Iranian government have used all their efforts to render quality services to people and promote their rights”, Gharibabadi claimed, “the Islamic Republic of Iran has made significant advances in protecting human rights and has paid hefty financial costs, especially in the fight against drugs and international trafficking gangs, as well as hosting of millions of refugees.”

But perhaps the most important part of Gharibabadi’s diatribe was the claim that Tehran is not the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism. No, he said, in fact, “Iran is one of the greatest victims of terrorism”.

Gharibabadi added: “The anti-Iran Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MKO) terrorist group has carried out the most acts of terror against the Iranian people which amount to crimes against humanity.”

“This terrorist group… has had administrative organizations in some European countries from the very beginning and their agents have traveled freely across European countries and the US without any restrictions or legal prosecution while some of these countries have become a safe haven for the terrorists,” Gharibabadi added.

In a ludicrous twist, he called on the international community “to address widespread crimes committed by the MKO and take serious action to prevent the terrorist group from operating freely in Europe and bring its criminal perpetrators and ringleaders to justice. The MKO terrorists enjoy the freedom of activity in the US and Europe and even hold regular meetings in which European and American officials make speeches.”

Throughout history, tyrants, occupiers, and human rights violators have developed their own narratives and lexicon to deceive citizens under their rule and those in the free world. But, in the end, their reign is fleeting, and their gibberish is rejected by everyone.

Kazem Gharibabadi is not only trying to dodge worldwide condemnation. In expressing the regime’s grievances, he is signaling to other dictators-in-arms and fellow tyrants that if they don’t support Tehran’s human rights violations, they would be next to be condemned by the world.

Since August 2021, the Iranian regime has closed ranks and a good portion of the ruling hierarchy, from the presidency to governors, has been filled with IRGC personnel or those with close ties to the Supreme Leader’s inner circle. Ebrahim Raisi who was appointed as the state’s chief of the executive branch has been strongly condemned by international human rights organizations for his leading role in mass executions, including the 1988 genocide, in which 30,000 political prisoners were brutally massacred.

International calls for the condemnation and trial of the regime for the 1988 massacre and its ongoing crimes against humanity have been gained momentum since 2016, when the President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, launched the justice movement for the victims of the massacre. Today, human rights experts, UN officials, Nobel laureates, and prominent personalities around the world are calling on the international community to launch an independent investigation into the massacre.

In these circumstances, the regime’s representative at the UNHRC is trying in vain, and foolishly, to divert the wave of condemnation back at the MEK, the regime’s leading opposition movement. The regime’s leaders are terrified of their imminent trial.

The MEK has dealt the most strategic blows against Tehran’s war machine, repressive apparatus, nuclear program, and worldwide terrorism. Perhaps this is why Tehran is pleading with the UN, the Human Rights Council, Europe, and the US to stop the MEK‘s activities.

As the West now reaps the fruits of the appeasement policy in a major international disaster that has started in Eastern Europe, followed by an influx of refugees that has triggered a new humanitarian crisis with enduring consequences, it’s worth contemplating the fact that firm and decisive policies should replace lip service and inaction in order to prevent further human catastrophes.

If patriotism and resistance against tyranny are true human values that every freedom-loving soul on the planet holds dear, it is exactly what a totalitarian regime finds detestable. Appeasement of dictators and tyrants must end because it only emboldens them. The international community should condemn Tehran for its past crimes against humanity while rejecting the statements of its desperate peddlers.