We should lay off Iran’s nuclear weapons program, says a “human rights” advocate, because Iran is using it as a reason to increase repression of internal reformers:
Rights advocates say dozens of activists have been prosecuted and condemned to prison sentences, some with lashes. They say arrests, detention and judicial harassment are common practice. They say journalists, lawyers, students and trade unionists are particularly targeted.
Spokesman of the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, Hadi Ghaemi, says Iran has taken advantage of the International Community’s fixation on the country’s nuclear issue to increase repression in the country.
“As the military threat against Iran increases, indeed, the government uses that to solidify the current situation and increase its repression. And, human rights defenders inside Iran are very much opposed to the continuing threat made against Iran,” he said. “It has made life very difficult for them. And, if there is any kind of military action against Iran, be it a very limited one, it will give a license to the government to completely uproot any semblance of civil society in the country.” — VOA News (6/2008) [my emphasis]
This is truly breathtaking in its stupidity. Iran is developing nuclear weapons in order to facilitate its goal of exporting revolutionary, fundamentalist Shiite Islam. Of course the Mullahs and Ahmadinejad want to repress reform at home; it’s part and parcel of the same project.
Repression has increased greatly since Ahmadinejad was elected in 2005, and the authorities are making good use of everything that the US does and says, not only our silly ‘fixation’, to justify it. For example, for the past several years the US has been funding radio broadcasts, websites, international human rights organizations concerned with conditions in Iran, etc.
Since Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice unveiled the program [in 2006], a wide array of activists — teachers, women’s rights campaigners, labor organizers, students, journalists and intellectuals — have faced interrogations, detentions, imprisonment and passport confiscation over suspected links to the new U.S. funding, activists and human rights groups say. Iranian officials have charged that Washington is supporting the kind of soft revolution that transformed Eastern Europe. — Washington Post (4/2007)
Indeed, the same Hadi Ghaemi, who is an analyst for Human Rights Watch, was quoted in the Post article:
Dozens of Iranian activists are paying a price since the announcement of the $75 million, and practically everyone who has been detained over the past year has been interrogated about receiving this money…
US officials on their part have emphasized that no funding is given directly to Iranian reformers. Of course, that doesn’t stop the security forces from using it as an issue. Does anyone really think that the crackdown would stop if the US backed off? Would they lack questions to ask dissidents?
Ghaemi is correct in decrying the violations of human rights committed by the Iranian regime. But his advice for the US appears to be that we should take no action of any kind — not against the nuclear program and not even to indirectly help those Iranians who oppose the fundamentalist program of Ahmadinejad’s regime.
In other words, Iran should be allowed to achieve her goals of regional domination, the elimination of Israel, and — ultimately — the end of the US as a world power.