“He who has nothing to hide, has nothing to fear”
His excellency Dr. Ahmad Shahid
The UN special rapporteur of human rights in Iran
What compelled me to write this letter is the fact that we share a common background serving as diplomats for our countries. Such commonality brings us closer together and encourages mutual understanding of a single issue. With your remarkable background as Foreign Minister of the Maldives, now the most highest international organization trusts you to investigate the human rights situation in my country. Yet I, a temporary charge d’affaires and former ambassador in Helsinki, after 21 years of service in the Iranian Foreign Ministry, am now a political refugee in my host country, Finland.
My colleagues and I, protesting against the merciless crackdown on the Iranian people and desiring to relay the cry of a suffering and helpless nation to the world, saw no alternative but to execute a political move reflecting all victims of the Islamic Republic’s human rights violations: the stifled voices, stitched mouths, bruised chins, bound prisoners, lost martyrs, childless mothers, shuttered newspapers, dissolved political parties, prohibited minority religions, and most importantly, punished defense lawyers.
I write this open letter so I can reiterate the thousand-fold, relentless human rights violations in Iran. I’m very sure that dozens of UN resolutions, hundreds of statements from human rights organizations, and thousands of testimonies to the inhumane tragedies in the black well called the “Islamic Republic” are sufficient documentation to detail the crimes of depraved officials and vulgar rulers. Such records are enough to enlighten you of the tragedies that abound in the Islamic Republic.
Is there better rationale than the Islamic Republic becoming the first country appointed a special human rights correspondent to investigate and assess its human rights situation since the Council’s founding in 2006? If there wasn’t any satisfying proof or documentation, the Council would never have thought of appointing Iran a human rights correspondent.
I’m conveying pain in this letter, and, alongside the solid proof you have, I lay down my simple argument for the critical human rights situation in Iran. I contend that Islamic Republic senior officials’ harsh reaction of “blocking the correspondent’s entry into Iranian soil” only corroborates the depth of the horrible and monstrous tragedies taking place. The regime is even ready to justify its rejection of your shocking testimony to their crimes.
The line of Persian poetry quoted at the beginning of this letter is an Iranian’s simple description of crooks involved in bad actions. Let’s imagine that an Iranian citizen, accused of possessing stolen property or hiding a body in his home, gets investigated by the court. What better proof for his guilt than when he professes to be innocent but refuses to allow officials to search his home? Thus the Persian proverb says:
“He who has nothing to hide, has nothing to fear.”
This explains why Islamic Republic officials—from the head of the judiciary to the Foreign Minister, head of the National Security Council, and the IRGC’s Top Commander—hold the flag symbolizing their refusal to let you enterour dear country. Dissecting their foolish talk, it is very appalling that on one hand the president calls Iran “the most free country in the world” and Javad Larijani, head of the human rights desk at the Judiciary, calls Iran “the only democracy in the Middle East” while the Judiciary’s head Sadeq Larijani boldly announces that “Our policy is not to accept the correspondent”.
It is also distressing to hear Sadeq Larijani, the Judge of all Judges, say that “The basis of Western-style human rights is not enforceable, and we cannot let them impose on us a notion of human rights adopted from a liberal cultural system. Our religious regime can itself create a human rights system based on its principles.”
Did the world forget that the Islamic Republic, until yesterday, was very keen on becoming a member of the Human Rights Council? Maybe the Islamic Republic forgot that it must execute the terms of a contract, treaty or convention unless it pulls out. What is the difference between accepting unexpected IAEA inspections of Iran’s nuclear sites (since the IAEA is an international authority), and accepting a special correspondent from another international authority, the Human Rights Council?
Our country’s Judge of all Judges knows well that even if there wasn’t an international human rights treaty or any other treaty containing the Islamic Republic’s signature, these government officials would still have committed overt violations of the country’s laws and Constitution. Iran defying its international obligations is another story. Let me give you an interesting example.
Based on the Islamic Republic’s civil code (derived from Islamic jurisprudence), a person is innocent until proven guilty by a legitimate court. It is appalling that in a country claiming to be free and democratic, two prominent Islamic Republic figures, former Prime Minister Mirhossein Mousavi and former head of Parliament Mehdi Karroubi have been under house arrest for five long months. Neither has a trial has been formed for them nor a verdict issued to sentence (or condemn) them.
Considering the Islamic Republic’s contradictory treatment of the civil code and the Constitution, the question is: if Mehdi Karroubi announced that he would attend the trial himself and if these two men are criminals, then why their wives are under house arrest as well? You must acknowledge that the Islamic Republic’s problem begins with this simple example and ends with what Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi claims to be thousands of systematic human rights violations!
Because you have a Muslim background, you know better than anyone else the meaning of shahid….which also happens to be your last name. Shahid means the one who sacrifices his life for protecting his greatness, dignity, and nation. No doubt that thousands of helpless Iranians have been martyred throughout the centuries, but we must note that during the imposed war with Iraq in the 1980s the term “living martyr” became popular.
According to our fighters, the “living martyr” was someone who didn’t get martyred on the battlefield, but with his then damaged and broken body witnessed Saddam’s invasion of dear Iran.
Dr. Shahid, if there weren’t thousands of martyrs for the cause of freedom, democracy, and human rights so that the report on the Islamic Republic’s inhuman abuses reaches you, then the Islamic Republic itself is a black well full of living martyrs who can illustrate for you just a small portion of these crimes. Some of these living martyrs are Mohammad Nourizadeh, Narges Mohammadi, and Nasrin Sotoudeh.
Finally, we must not forget that although the troubling speech of the Islamic Republic leaders never ends, we cannot ignore the honest discourse of sympathetic people and human rights activists. Unfortunately, some exploit the issue of human rights as a political tool to acquire power—disregarding their country’s right as well as other countries’ opinions.
You must acknowledge that such behavior only makes countries such as the Islamic Republic bolder in committing human rights violations. Although the solution to this problem does not lie in your agenda or your hands, we know well that you (as an individual internationally renowned in the field of human rights) are more eloquent and capable than anyone else to help end the exploitation of human rights.
An entire nation and its future are bound to the serious task at hand, and I wish you success.
A Former Diplomat