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May 19, 2011

Dorothy Parvaz is released, but will Iran open up on human rights abuses?

In welcome news, Dorothy Parvaz–the Al Jazeera English correspondent who was detained in Syria two weeks ago and later deported to Iran–was released yesterday.  She arrived in Doha, Qatar on a flight from Iran and detailed her ordeal in an interview with Al Jazeera here.
But while it is an immense relief that Parvaz has been freed, politically motivated detentions and executions continue in Iran.  Hundreds of political prisoners and journalists continue to languish in Iranian jails–such as Kurdish activist Habibollah Latifi, who faces imminent execution, and student leader Majid Tavakkoli, who will soon be celebrating his 25th birthday behind bars.
What is Iran doing about these cases?
Mohammad Javad Larijani, head of Iran’s Human Rights Council, announced that Iran has no objection to allowing the recently mandated UN human rights monitor on Iran to visit the country.
This too is welcome news.  However, while Larijani said Iran accepts the basic framework of the UN investigative process, he questioned the “professionalism” of some of the UN investigators—a tact that has been used in the past to deny access to or impose prohibitively stringent conditions on investigators to prevent them from doing their jobs.
Moreover, last week Larijani announced plans for Iran to create its own “Islamic Charter of Human Rights” and framed this as a way to impose counter pressure on human rights.
It is beyond me why Iranian government would need to create yet another human rights charter given that it ignores the numerous international human rights statutes it has already signed.  Perhaps the first action that could be taken under the new charter will be an investigation of the brutal treatment of prisoners that Dorothy Parvaz says she witnessed during her detention in Syria.

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