With President Obama recently announcing renewed diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba, many of my friends in the American Jewish community have approached me recently with questions of excitement about the potential for renewed U.S. relations with Iran. Their reactions and keen interest in seeing warm relations between the U.S. and the current Iranian regime has been both shocking and saddening to me as an Iranian American journalist who is all too familiar with the truly evil nature of Iran’s current regime. In recent weeks President Obama has hinted at the prospects of the U.S. opening an embassy in Tehran and potentially renewing relations with Iran under certain circumstances. I respectfully disagree with the President and his “friendly” approach to dealing with the radical Islamic clerics who run Iran with an iron fist and have a heinous human rights record. If the current U.S. administration were to indeed remove sanctions on the Iranian regime and embrace the current Iranian regime with diplomatic ties, it would send a horrible message to those activists in Iran seeking human rights and true freedom from the yoke of oppression put on them by the Iranian ayatollahs.
Sadly many of my friends in the American Jewish community have accepted the current Obama administration’s spin that friendlier relations with Iran would be good for the region and for world peace. Unfortunately they do not understand the Farsi language when the Iranian ayatollahs gone on camera and not only call for America’s demise but their desire to “crack down on troublemakers who do not agree with their radical Islamic laws”. Likewise my friends in the American Jewish community have overlooked the even more sad facts that the human rights abuses in Iran have indeed increased under the supposed “moderate” new president Hassan Rouhani. Contrary to their beliefs, according to a recent report by UN envoy for human rights in Iran, Ahmad Shaheed, there have been at least 1,100 executions in the 15 months since Rouhani has been in office. Likewise the report states that Iran has the highest number of executions per capita, and is the biggest executioner of juvenile offenders. Death sentences for ethnic and religious minorities have also increased dramatically. There are five main reasons for punishment by death in Iran: heresy, homosexuality, rape, murder and armed struggle– nearly all of executions have been performed secretly. A number of Christian priests have also been imprisoned for advocating their beliefs since Rouhani came to power. According to the “Reporters Without Borders” organization, Iran has become the world’s leading jailer of female journalists and more than 60 journalists and bloggers have been imprisoned. Likewise Iran is one of the largest customers of Internet censoring and filtering equipment and blocks around five million websites dedicated to the arts, social issues, news, blogs and social media sites. The Iranian regime has had an even harsher treatment of women in the country. For example, this past October, armed thugs paid by the regime, were responsible for acid attacks on certain Iranian women and girls with head covering they deemed unacceptable. Likewise in October, the Iranian regime on Rouhani’s watch hanged Reyhaneh Jabbari, a 26-year-old girl, for defending herself against a man who had tried to rape her. And the list of the Iranian regime’s crimes against LGBT, labor union leaders, journalists, filmmakers, artists, children and religious minorities goes on and on.
Considering the horrible human rights abuses carried out by the Iranian regime against innocent Iranians seeking to exercise their basic freedoms, President Obama’s efforts to renew ties with this current Iranian regime would only act to reward this evil dictatorship that has crushed basic human rights. Why is America turning its back innocent men, women and children seeking to live free lives without the fear of repression from a brutal totalitarian regime? Why is America seeking to reward the criminals in the Iranian regime who randomly hang individuals for minor drug offenses or for supposed “crimes against God”? Why does President Obama who sees himself as a champion of LGBT rights, turn a blind eye to the Iranian regime’s random hangings of gay men in Iran in recent years? With the U.S. administration aligning itself with this current evil regime in Iran, it has essentially turned its back on those freedom-loving people in Iran who yearn to be free and overthrow the clerics who have for no reason imprisoned, tortured and executed them for nearly four decades. Is this how the United States which is supposed to be a beacon of liberty and freedom onto the world, help innocent civilians gain their own freedom while living under a brutal dictatorship? These are all very real questions about the potential negative repercussions on the poor human rights situation Iran that may arise if the Obama administration appeases the Iranian regime by warming ties with them.
Now many of my friends in the American Jewish community have argued that by negotiating with Iran and renewing ties from this current regime, the U.S. may potentially have a greater leverage at pressuring the regime to improve their human rights record. I wish this were indeed true, but the notion that the Iranian clerics would suddenly change their behavior towards average Iranians they deem as “unacceptable” just because of U.S. rhetoric is laughable! The vast majority of the ayatollahs and radical Shiite Islamic hooligans who run the Iranian regime see America as a “corrupter of the world” and its leaders as devils that must be destroyed. One prime example of their pure hatred for America regardless of our “friendly gestures” towards the regime comes from the influential ayatollah Ahmad Khatami. This past April, Khatami stood before massive crowds in Iran after Friday prayers and said; “when we sit down with the Americans for negotiations, we know we are sitting across from our enemy and they cannot be trusted. When the American President starts speaking rubbish to us about our affairs, our president must strongly slap him in the mouth because they are not a power!” Of course how can we forget the notorious Iranian Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei who spares no moment every month of the year on television and on Twitter calling for the destruction of the U.S. and the spread of radical Shiite Islam to the world. Improving ties with these fundamentalist Islamic clerics who rule Iran with an iron fist will never result in the Iranian regime miraculously giving the people of Iran human rights. To the contrary, the Iranian regime will be bolstered to continue their path of terror and heinous crimes against humanity when they see the U.S. administration cozying up to them despite their horrible human rights record.
In the end, if the Obama administration indeed renews ties with the current Iranian regime, it would be a disaster for human rights activists in Iran and for average Iranians trying to break free from the shackles of oppression from the current Iranian regime. We cannot and must not reward the criminals running the Iranian regime who have no value for human life whether it be Jews, Christians, Muslims, Baha’is’, LGBT, labor leaders, women, or journalist. As Americans we must demand that the current U.S. administration and Congress hold the Iranian regime accountable for their immoral human rights abuses, high rates of executions and chock-hold on basic individual freedoms in Iran before any U.S. diplomatic or economic relations can be restored. If America today rewards this evil Iranian regime with diplomatic and economic relations despite the regime’s continued crimes against humanity, in the future history and the Iranian people will never forgive us.