FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Washington, DC – Over the past ten days we have witnessed two tragedies in which ordinary Iranians were killed under the gross repression of the Iranian government and the broad impact of crippling sanctions imposed by the U.S. government.
NIAC condemns the Iranian government’s detention, torture and murder of Sattar Beheshti. Sattar was a 35-year old factory worker who was the sole breadwinner for his family in Robat Karim. On October 28, he was arrested by Iran’s cyber police for publishing blogs that were critical of the Iranian government. He was taken to the notorious Evin prison where he was beaten and where his body would be found days later, apparently tortured to death. His family would be informed on November 6 that Sattar died while in detention. Authorities interfered with his funeral while claiming a full investigation would be launched. Day’s later, Iranian officials would claim torture was not the cause of Sattar’s death, even as they acknowledge his body was bruised and as a letter from Sattar written from Evin speaks of torture at the hands of his interrogators. Sattar’s killling was the latest in a long line of cases in which the Iranian regime has used the judiciary to settle political scores with its critics.
NIAC calls for a full, independent, and transparent investigation of this tragedy and for those accountable to be held responsible. NIAC reiterates its call on the Iranian government to end its campaign of systematic violations of human rights; to release all prisoners of conscience, like Nasrin Sotoudeh and Jafar Panahi; to come into full compliance with its international and domestic human rights obligations; and to grant the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Iran full access to the country.
NIAC condemns the broad, crippling sanctions that deprived 15-year old Manouchehr Esmali-Liousi of critical medicine and caused his death. Manouchehr, who was born with hemophilia, resided with his family near the city of Dezful in Khuzestan. He would die in a hospital after his family was unable to find the medicine that was needed to treat his disease. The apparent cause is the sanctions on Iran, which are repeating the history of previous sanctions that have crippled public health in impacted countries. Iranian public health and civil society actors, as well as numerous accounts in the press and by independent researchers, have warned that medicine stocks in Iran are depleting and new medicine imports, as well as the raw goods need to produce these items, are being blocked by sanctions. U.S. government officials say sanctions against Iran do not apply to food, medicine, and humanitarian goods. Yet they acknowledge that banks worldwide are prevented from engaging in all transactions with all of Iran’s major banks, including for medicine and for humanitarian purposes. They also acknowledge, and have even touted, that few third country banks are willing to facilitate these humanitarian transactions with the few small banks in Iran that have not been sanctioned.
NIAC reiterates its call for the U.S. government to take swift action to comply with international human rights law under the Fourth Geneva Convention by ensuring medicine and humanitarian transactions are no longer blocked for Iranians by sanctions. NIAC calls on the U.S. government to push for a full dialogue on all areas of concern with Iran, with the goal of establishing a mechanism to effectively address the human rights situation in Iran, and to ensure the human rights of ordinary Iranians are not subordinated to the nuclear issue and disregarded in the standoff with Iran’s government.
These two devastating tragedies have laid bare yet again how the people of Iran are being squeezed, their human rights are being violated, and their lives and dignity are being discarded under the dual repression of a non-democratic government that actively abuses its own people and a democratic government that punishes those people instead of their rulers. These two governments have a responsibility to respect human rights.
There was some positive news in the past week, as new targeted human rights sanctions were put in place against four Iranian officials and five Iranian entities by the U.S. Department of Treasury. These sanctions were put in place under a legal authority that NIAC was instrumental in getting introduced in Congress in 2009, and passed and signed into law by the President in 2010.
NIAC will continue to advance such targeted efforts, to work to stop broad sanctions, and to prevent the ultimate human rights tragedy–a war between the U.S. and Iran. We will continue to bring NIAC members to Washington to press their Representatives on Capitol Hill to successfully ease sanctions that punish ordinary Iranians. We will continue to support and ensure the ongoing mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur, whose sole job is to investigate, spotlight, and seek a resolution to the human rights violations inside of Iran. And we will continue to support direct diplomacy as the best and only effective tool to to prevent a tragic war and resolve the many issues of serious concern to Iranian Americans regarding the Iranian government.