December 29, 2010
There is more bleak news concerning flagrant human rights violations in Iran.
Two Iranian film makers, Jafar Panahi and Mohammad Rasulov, have been sentenced by the Iranian government to six years in prison for the crime of “conspiring against the ruling system.” Mr. Panahi has also been barred from making films and from leaving Iran for 20 years. At his trial in November, Mr. Panahi reportedly described his prosecution by the government as part of an attack on Iran’s entire art and cultural community. A third Iranian film maker, Mohammad Nourizad is currently serving a three and a half year term in prison for the so-called crimes of spreading propaganda and insulting the country’s leaders.
Meanwhile, there is anxiety over the health and fate of prominent Iranian human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh. Ms. Sotoudeh, who has been in solitary confinement for over three months, had been on a hunger strike in protest over terrible prison conditions. She reportedly ended the strike recently citing her duty as a mother to her two young children. Iranian Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi has called for Ms. Sotoudeh’s immediate release on bail and for an examination of her case before a “just court.”
Ms. Ebadi said that Ms. Sotoudeh is one of many political prisoners who are imprisoned in Iran, several of whom have started a hunger strike to protest their appalling prison conditions.
Ms. Ebadi also noted that more than forty journalists and bloggers are incarcerated in Iran. The Committee to Protect Journalists reports that Iran is conducting “a relentless attack on opposition and independent media” and described the Iranian government as “the world’s leading jailer of journalists” urging that Iran “change the course it has clearly chosen – unrelenting violence.”
Iran has ratified several international documents aimed at preserving the fundamental rights of citizens, including the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, but fails to live up to them. That is why the United Nations passed, on December 21st, a resolution calling on the Government of Iran to fully respect its human rights obligations; one that was welcomed by the United States and the international community.
In a statement released by Secretary Clinton on December 22 she said “To all those Iranians struggling to lift your voices and speak up for fundamental freedoms and human rights, you are not alone. The United States and the international community stand with you.”