The current issue of the Iran Human Rights Review focuses on the United Nations. The universal periodic review of Iran’s efforts to address human rights abuses will occur at the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights just a few hours later. It’s a good time to remember that Iran not only endorsed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but helped to shape it.
Arseh Sevom — In this exclusive interview with Arseh Sevom editor Mohammad Reza Sardari, human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh discusses the very personal impact of her struggle for equality and justice. She tells of a young son who lost his childhood. “I grew up all of a sudden,” he tells her. In 2013, she was released from prison after serving three years of a six-year sentence for her activities defending the rights of her clients. In this interview, she reminds all of us that there is a price worth paying for the achievement of justice and equality.
Arseh Sevom–Trust, but verify: that is the message of the recent nuclear agreement with Iran. The completed agreement sent hopes of better times soaring in Iran where a whole generation has felt itself sacrificed to hardline policies and the results of sanctions. If trust can be built in the wake of these negotiations, there is an opportunity for the international community to engage Iran on its human rights record. That is the next step.
The new administration of President Hassan Rouhani has pledged to tackle a range of human rights issues in Iran, by eliminating discrimination against women and ethnic and religious minorities, and ensuring respect for the right to freedom of expression, among other measures. Despite these welcome signals, human rights abuses are deeply rooted in Iran’s laws and policies, many of which pose a serious barrier to the executive branch’s ability to push through much needed rights reforms.
Arseh Sevom- This week’s review is unfortunately focused on the treatment of political prisoners in Iran. Events of the past months demand this. The season marking the anniversary of the taking of the American Embassy seems to endanger Iran’s homegrown activists more than it hurts the US with the chanting of “Death to America.” At a time when Iranians are hoping for change, and especially at this time, it’s necessary to put pressure on Iran’s government to improve the conditions for all of its prisoners and urgently for its political prisoners and prisoners of conscience.
The Cyrus Cylinder preserves a proclamation from Cyrus the Great which has been called the first declaration of human rights. Hirad Abtahi, first legal adviser of the Presidency of the International Criminal Court, examines the proclamation in a recently published book, stating that it can be summed up thematically as calling for dialogue, tolerance, and peace.