December 16, 2017

Remarks by Mr. Mohammad Alafchi at the UN Plaza NYC

Mr. Mohammad Alafchi
President of American Iranian Association- New York
October 13, 2004

UN General Assembly is once again meeting soon to address various issues of concern to the world body. Among these issues would certainly be proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and status of human rights. There are only a handful of countries that both of these concerns apply to them and Iran is on top of this list.

In recent months the government authorities have increased their repressive measures in violating the rights of individuals, minorities, or genders. These efforts have been scaled up at the beginning of Iranian academic year on September 22.

Despite these efforts there have been many protests and demonstrations across the country demanding extended rights and freedom in the society. On Sunday, September 26, people, mostly students and youth gathered in front of Tehran University and shouted slogans against the mullahs’ dictatorship. While demonstrators were reciting the Resistance’s National Hymn “O’Iran”, others joined them. The repressive forces and anti-riot police violently dispersed the crowd, including women, which resulted in injuries. Many were arrested. Security forces are still present in the area.

On September 28, extensive confrontations between regime’s security forces in Nour-Abad from Mamasani, Bandar-Abbas, and Miandoab in southern Iran took place. At least 7 were killed, hundreds injured and many arrested. The confrontation ensued after the people assembled in front of the governor’s office to protest against corruptions in the government. The situation in these towns is still tense.

On September 20, the judiciary announced that it will “detoxify” Iran’s movie industry. Immediately after this announcement two organizers of a film festival were arrested and integrated for “indecency” and “violation of the Islamic dress code” by some of the visitors and guests of this festival.

Tantamount to destruction of Buddhist artifacts in Afghanistan by Taliban, the Iranian government has recently demolished historic sites which also were sacred to Bahi’s. This shows that the mullahs are not only moderating their views but on the contrary are moving to harder line that has no tolerance for religious minorities even if it is related to cultural and artistic part of Iranian life.

According to the International Religious Freedom Report that was released on September 15: “There was no substantive change in the status of respect for religious freedom during the period covered by this report. Members of the country’s religious minorities–including Sunni and Sufi Muslims, Baha’is, Jews, and Christians–reported imprisonment, harassment, intimidation, and discrimination based on their religious beliefs. Government actions created a threatening atmosphere for some religious minorities, especially Baha’is, Jews, and evangelical Christians.”

It is astonishing to know that even after eight years of so-called “moderate” and “reform-minded” president the laws in Iran consider the lives of women and Baha’i men of lesser value. According to the same laws, Baha’i blood is considered “Mobah,” meaning it can be spilled with impunity.

The government in Iran enforces restrictions such as gender segregation, dress code, eating and dinking habits, and in all other aspects of Iranian life in public spaces, buses, universities, airports hospitals, and physicians’ offices. Even the sanctity of homes is not respected and the violators of these restrictions face punishments such as monetary fines, flogging, imprisonment, and even at times death.

This of course is severely affecting the life of women more than men. Women are not free to choose their clothing. They are under constant harassment by authorities or their paramilitary agents. The health care for women is inferior to that of men and their legal status is even worse.

According to the above report: “Legally, the testimony of a woman is worth only half that of a man in court. A married woman must obtain the written consent of her husband before she may travel outside the country… All women, regardless of their age, must have the permission of their father or a living male relative to marry. The law allows for the practice of Siqeh, or temporary marriage… [M]en may have as many Siqeh wives as they wish. Such wives usually are not granted rights associated with traditional marriage… Women who remarry are forced to give up custody of children from earlier marriages to the child’s father…”

Using fabricated religious grounds freedom of expression and press is frequently ignored and bridged. Independent newspapers and magazines are practically non-existing and any sign of dissent in publications results in interrogations and imprisonment of publishers or journalists. Vague charges of “insulting Islam” or “inciting the public opinion” are used to justify curbing publicly expressed opinion to the regime by media. Just this year alone, 8 magazine and papers including Amir Kabir University and Gilan University shut down. Other social restrictions such as attacking private parties have resulted in 283 arrests.

According to the Iranian Resistance sources inside Iran on September 18 a prisoner in the city of Minab (Hormozgan Province), on September 20 another one in Tehran and on September 21 one in Qazvin (100 miles north of Tehran) were hanged. This will bring the number of executions in less than a month to 19. Others executions sentences have been carried out in Dezful (Southwestern Iran), Karaj (north Tehran), and Abadan (southwestern Iran). Among those sentenced to execution at least four are under 18 years old.

This will make to total number of executions in Iran only in the first half of Iranian calendar to at least 120, which includes only those announced in the stat-run newspapers and does not account for secret executions. Amnesty International reported at least 108 executions took place in 2003 and 113 in 2002.

For the last 20 years the human rights situation in Iran has been condemned over fifty times by the UN High Commission on Human Rights, European Union and other international organizations. But, the mullahs continue their criminal acts against humanity and particularly against the Iranian people. There is no question that mischief by mullahs in Iran must be curbed. However, we should be mindful not to allow them use human rights as trade off for their other ambitions such as weapons of mass destructions and terrorist-fundamentalist expansionism, for they are all linked together. A free and democratic Iran without mullahs would be an asset to the world peace and stability and an antidote to the liability that mullahs have made it to be.