Friday 19 November 2010

Iranians Won't Give Up - With or Without Help

So finally, something came out of the United Nations against Iran – ah the joy, eh? It took almost a year and a half for human rights activists to scream at the top of their lungs to get some of the world’s attention to the human rights violations in Iran.
Yesterday, the Third Committee of the United Nations General Assembly graciously and belatedly approved a draft resolution condemning Iran for its grave human rights violations by a vote of almost 2-1. Along with Iran, Myanmar and North Korea were also included in the resolution. 

The UN has been of little help to human rights in Iran.

Most people with a bit of interest in international politics know how hard it has been on Iranians since they stood up to defend their right to have a free and fair election last year. Perhaps the best way to describe the government’s crackdown on protesters decrying the state’s rigging the election would be a hurricane of batons. Thousands were arrested, hundreds of tortured and murdered to stop the people from asking for their rights.
We know about them only thanks to the nameless and faceless Iranians who are giving their lives, blood, freedom and dignity to get the word across to the world - thanks to government's media blackout. Their voices have for years been crying out loud that Iran is the largest prison in the world.
No words describe the calamity which is the human rights situation in Iran better than what a female Iranian human rights activist told me during a protest in DC a few months ago: “It is a crime to be who you are in Iran. You have to be either a skilled actor portraying a happy citizen, or you will end up in prison. Do you want me to tell you more?”
But in the face of such brutal tyranny, Iran is also home to human rights activists who have garnered world-wide acclaim for their bravery. Take the example of Shirin Ebadi, who even though is a woman in Iran, won the Nobel Peace Prize. She and others like her have inspired a generation of young Iranian men and women whose only goal in life seems to be the emancipation of Iran’s oppressed masses.
Now, more than ever, Iranians are ready for a world that will actually listen to their voices and do what it can to help them achieve the freedom that they so badly desire and for which they are ready to give their lives.
But instead of concrete actions, we get a draft resolution condemning Iran’s human rights violations. Condemnation… a simple passing of judgment. “You are a bad boy, Iran.” That too almost a year late given the fact that the grossest violations occurred last year from June to November. China's representative put it best to the UN committee meeting: "Finger pointing does not protect human rights."
Is that what the world thinks it can do for Iran? Words cannot describe the anger I feel when I remember the names of people who gave up everything to get the world’s attention focused on Iran for a few weeks.
I remember fighting tooth and nail for months to attempt to prove that the rape and death of one Iranian woman, Taraneh Mousavi, during last year’s protests wasn’t a sham. I remember watching the video of a young man being beaten so mercilessly that his brains were strewn across a sidewalk in Tehran. I also remember finally breaking down and crying for hours after reading about the death of another activist whose face reminded me of a dear friend that I’ve lost touch with.
Those are the faces that come to mind when I read this UN resolution. Their plight only deserves a draft resolution it seems.
Luckily, the Iranians’ fight for human rights has shown itself to be far more mature than to succumb to repression and a world too ready to ignore it. It is heartbreaking to see the UN shrug the issue off. But you know what; this is not it.
The UN can throw around draft resolutions all it wants. The cry for Iranian salvation is not going to die down because the world has decided to take the back seat and watch Iranian human rights activists get mowed down. Iranians have been fighting this struggle alone for years and now more than ever it feels like they can and will carry on this struggle, with or without the world’s help.
Protesters are still spreading anti-government graffiti. Dissidents are stillspreading news of human rights violations on the web. Lawyers are still going to court and defending innocent Iranian human rights activists against a state-run campaign to lock down everyone who wants to speak the truth – even if it means they themselves will be put in prison. Iran struggles, whether you hear about it or not.
The world may not be listening or listening and compartmentalizing for belated non-action – but Iranians are neither deaf, nor crippled. The fight will go on.  That is what calms my anger.

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