December 16, 2017

VOA Interview with Mr. Nasser Rashidi – The Earthquake in Bam

This interview was originally conducted in Persian. It has been translated to English by NCPDA volunteers

Text of Voice of America (VOA) interview with Executive Director of NCPDA

On November 29th, 2003, the UN Third Committee, the human rights advocate branch of the UN, passed the Canadian-drafted resolution that was co-sponsored by the United States and ten other countries. VOA correspondent Parichehr Farzam interviewed Nasser Rashidi, an expert of human rights, freedom of expressions and religious freedom. Rashidi is also Director of Public Relations-USA Company and Executive Director of the National Coalition of Pro-Democracy Advocates Organization.NCPDA organization conducted a press conference to discuss the Canadian-drafted resolution and support the condemnation of Islamic republic of Iran for its severe violations of human rights against its own citizens.

VOA: On November 20th (if I am not mistaken about the day), you held a press conference at the UN in New York. Would you talk to us about it? 

Rashidi: Upon learning about the Canadian-originated resolution being sponsored by other countries, we established extensive contact with the representatives of those countries. On November 20th, the day before the resolution was passed, we held a press conference in the presence of some religious leaders at the UN main building in order to express our extensive support for the resolution. Fortunately, the next day, as you are aware, the resolution was passed with an overwhelming 73 in the favor of resolution. 

VOA: As I was reviewing the resolution, the expression of Ms. Hastei, the representative of Islamic Republic in this committee drew my attention. She has claimed that since her country has expressed an extensive cooperation with the Canadian Government in this matter, she was completely surprised from the Canadian Ambassador’s behavior. We don’t understand why Canadians displayed these forensic pictures, while we particularly ask them not to, she says. My question from you, as a person who has been involved in the presentation of this resolution, is: Do you think that Ms. Hastei, as a woman, really believes that torturing is an acceptable action? And is that why she is surprised that the pictures have been taken against the Islamic Republic for passing the resolution? An Iranian decedent-Canadian journalist with a valid visa goes to Iran, is arrested for photographing and gets killed under torturing. Then, Ms. Hastei became less than flattering to the Canadians for displaying those pictures. Please explain this for us. 

Rashidi: First, my sympathy and condolences go to Ms. Kazemi’s family for Zahra’s hearth arrowing murdering. I strongly support divulging the Iranian regime’s agents in this horrible crime. I must declare to you, Ms. VOA, the main mission and responsibility of the mullah’s agents are to dilute and cover up the mullah’s crimes against humanity. These crimes include hanging, amputation of human body parts, stoning to death, gouging the eyes etc. It is obvious that the mullah’s agents in international organizations are clearly aware of the regime’s crimes, and they corroborate the crimes. Therefore, these agents represent only the mullahs in international organizations, not Iranian people. 

VOA: Last week, I traveled to Geneva for press coverage and that happened to be the same time that the Torturing Inhibition Committee had their meetings. This committee’s main mission is to issue warnings to the countries that are members of the Torturing Inhibition Convention upon receiving reports regarding torture of their citizens. These warnings are then the base of ongoing improvements of behavior of the member countries towards their citizens. As a human rights advocate, do you think the reason that the Iranian government never signed the resolution and never became a member of the convention is that it is trying to avoid the obligations that this membership will create against the violation of human rights? Or is it because this regime will have to explain their kidnappings, the arrests of political activists such as Ahmad Baatabee, Zahra Kazemi and many more to the committee and to the world? What is your opinion? 

Rashidi: Well, the only way that this regime can survive any longer is to continue oppression, torturing, hangings in public and amputations as their normal daily practice in order to intimidate the general public. The mullahs know very well that if they get involved in these kinds of phenomena related to human rights, they will have some obligations and will not be able to face the consequences. This regime cannot afford and will not stop or even minimize torturing, public hangings, stoning and violating human rights. The mullahs’ regime opened fire on the student uprisings, and, according to their own media, arrested 4000 people. Unfortunately, in the years 2001 and 2002, the mullahs escaped the condemnation because of the appeasement policy that was suggested by some of the countries who were motivated by short-term economic interests with the mullahs.It is important to note here that the appeasement policy was implemented as the number of stoning of men and women to death in Iran was elevating. As a result of the appeasement policy, the number of executions and public hangings reached 472 in the year 2002. This represents a 53% increase from 1984 to 2001. The number of stoning reached ten in the first part of 2002. In the same year Ms. Kazemi was tortured and murdered. If you glance through the regime’s media and publications you will see that the 4000 students who were arrested during students’ uprisings are currently under intolerable physical and psychological torturing. These are partly the reasons that this regime does not get involved in any human rights advocate organizations, committees or conventions.

VOA: Mr. Rashidi, to confirm the numbers that you just mentioned, from the year 1980 until 2001, Islamic Republic of Iran has been frequently accused or, I better say, condemned by UN’s Human Rights Commission for the severe violation of human rights against its own citizens. I recall, from the Canadian-originated resolution that was submitted to the UN’s Third Committee a few days ago, a great deal of concerns have been expressed regarding implementation of many different kinds of torturing such as amputations, lashings and so on. The resolution also demands the elimination of any kind of discriminations against women and religious minorities such as Christians, Jews and Sunni Moslems by the Shii,a Regime. As an expert of human rights, freedom of expressions and religious freedom in your organization, what is your opinion about the above matters? 

Unfortunately, the mullahs’ past record, in recognition of the religious minorities’ rights, is as ugly as its transcript in observing the human rights which we have mentioned earlier. As we all have observed, issues such as freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and so on is the common ground in all religions. This includes all the ethnic groups and minorities such as Kurds, Fars Tork, etc., and, in general, all Iranians. Then, in this case, if you are a member of the religious minorities, additional discrimination will be applied because you are not a Shii’a.