Human Rights

  • Iran Should Reach Out to Labor Leaders, Not Prosecute Them

    There’s not much good news to share in Iran as Nowruz, the Iranian new year, approaches. The economic situation that played a role in nationwide protests during December 2017 and January 2018 is still difficult as millions of Iranians struggle to live a decent life. Inflation and perceptions of widespread corruption further fuel popular frustration, prompting dozens of labor groups—including truck drivers, steel workers, and teachers—to lead protests against the Iranian government’s economic policies over the past year.

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  • Using Sanctions Against Human Rights Abusers and Kleptocrats

    On Tuesday, February 26, the Atlantic Council’s Global Business & Economics Program’s Economic Sanctions Initiative hosted a public discussion featuring Ms. Andrea Gacki, Director of the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), on the Global Magnitsky Act’s uses, misuses, and lessons for business.

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  • Glimmer of Hope in Iran for Long-Persecuted Baha’is?

    The Iranian constitution after the 1979 revolution provides limited freedoms for religious minorities, and it does not recognize the Baha’i community, with more than 300,000 members in the country. Instead, for four decades, the Islamic Republic has routinely harassed, prosecuted, and imprisoned Baha’is solely for practicing their faith. Among other things, the government severely restricts Baha’is right to education, including prohibiting Baha’i students from registering at universities and expelling them if their identities are discovered.

    Yet several recent court decisions across the country, that have ended in the acquittal of Baha’is on vaguely defined national security charges, have led some to wonder if this blatant discriminatory behavior might finally be easing up.

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  • Iranian Prisoners’ Hunger Strike Is a Plea for Basic Rights

    This week, two well-known political prisoners in Tehran’s Evin prison went on a three-day hunger strike to protest their inability to get urgent medical treatment. 

    Narges Mohammadi, a prominent human rights defender serving a ten-year sentence for her peaceful activism, suffers from a serious neurological disease that causes muscular paralysis. Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is a British-Iranian dual national serving a five-year prison term on vague national security charges in connection with her past work at the BBC Media Action. She urgently needs an examination for “lumps in her breast” and neurological care for her recurring neck pain and numbness in her arms and legs. 

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  • Why Human Rights Matter

    Though we spend so much of our time contemplating some of the cruelest of human actions, human rights activists are normally, by nature, optimists. After all, why else would we believe in our ability to expose evil, ensure justice, and bring positive change?

    Yet recent times have challenged us a lot and the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on December 10 falls at a time of deep pessimism for many human rights activists. There have been massive advances over the past seventy years—billions raised out of poverty, children moved from the workforce and into the classroom, their elders living longer and healthier lives. Women have taken huge strides toward gender equality, while indigenous communities, those who identify as LGBT, and people with disabilities are claiming their place in society.

    Still, there is truly a mercy deficit in the world today.

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  • Pompeo Adds Human Rights to Twelve Demands for Iran

    Appearing at a conservative think tank in Washington in May, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo presented a list of twelve demands that Iran had to meet for the Trump administration to consider new negotiations with the Islamic Republic.

    The list covered a wide range of what the US calls Iran’s “malign activities,” from its continued enrichment of uranium—allowed in limited quantities by the nuclear deal President Donald Trump discarded—to its regional interventions and ballistic missile program.

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  • Hellyer Joins ABC to Discuss the Islamic Tradition and Human Rights

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  • Iran’s Deteriorating Human Rights Situation and Trump Administration Policies

    Iran’s human rights record continues to deteriorate but there are effective ways to advocate for improvement that include making demands as specific as possible and enlisting broad multilateral support.

    These were the main conclusions of a September 13 panel on the topic organized by the Atlantic Council’s Future of Iran Initiative.

    The system imposed in Iran since the 1979 Islamic revolution seeks a return to conservative social values through rigid interpretations of Islamic law. From women losing rights previously enshrined in a 1975 Family Protection Act, to intimidation and repression of civil society at large by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and the Judiciary, Iran has violated a wide spectrum of ethnic, social, and religious rights.

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  • Discrimination and Past Due Payments: Some of the Problems Iranian Workers Face

    Since the December 2017 nationwide protests in Iran, there have been countless strikes and labor protests. During the months of June and July alone, railroad workers and truck drivers went on strike in over two dozen cities across the country. Unionization is banned in Iran and security forces constantly crack down on labor rights activists, quelling any ability for Iranian workers to voice their concerns about working conditions and government policies that impact their livelihood, especially since the economic situation will further worsen with the reimposition of US sanctions. Iranian activists are often the target of scrutiny by the Iranian government, and also face obstacles when gathering information.

    Due to these complications, Zamaneh Media—a Persian language media organization based in the Netherlands—has stepped in to monitor labor developments. This month they published “Labor Rights in Iran,” Zamaneh Media’s first bi-monthly report on the issue. The report...

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  • A Humanitarian Responsibility: End of US Support for Saudi-led Coalition in Yemen

    The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) and its ally, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), pledged decisive victory when they went to war in March 2015 against Yemen’s Houthi rebels. The result has not been the Houthis’ defeat, but tens of thousands of deaths, a cholera epidemic and famine -- what the United Nations has deemed “the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.”

    One way to end the nightmare is for the United States to withdraw its support for the war, compel the Saudi-led coalition to accept a ceasefire and ensure a peace process that keeps millions more from unnecessary suffering.

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