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Human Rights Travesty By: Kenneth R. Timmerman
FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, July 20, 2007


If human rights abuses were ranked like baseball careers, Iran’s ruling clerics and the mighty midget they’ve installed as president would deserve honored places in the 21st Century’s Hall of Shame.

On July 10, Iran’s Interior ministry confirmed the sentence, handed down ten days earlier by a court in the north of the country, condemning a man to death by stoning.

If you’ve never witnessed a stoning (and most of us haven’t, I trust), you can get a flavor for the barbarity of this Koranic punishment from a short video clip shot at one of these events.

The fellows in military dress belong to the bassij force of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, the thugs and enforcers the regime uses to cow the Iranian population – or, as in this case, to whip up the frenzy of its remaining supporters.

The YouTube version of stoning is mercifully brief. Iranian human rights activist Dr. Manouchehr Ganji sat down with me a few years ago and showed me the full Monty, and it’s not a pretty sight. You see, the rocks have to be just the right size: not too large, so they won’t kill the victim outright, and not too small, as to be harmless.

The victim is wrapped in a white shroud and cemented into a hole in the ground up to the waist, arms wrapped to his sides. It can take fifteen minutes or more of pounding by the crowd for the first blood to appear through the shroud. Until then, the crowd seems to just mill about. Some are just curious onlookers. The bassijis, always helpful, have rocks ready and make sure that everyone gets their shot. Many of them miss the target.

But when the blood appears, the bassijis go wild. This part has been censored from the YouTube version. This is where they break free from the circle and make their mad dashes up close to the victim, smashing their skull with rocks. They come in like banderillos at a bullfight, or like vultures descending on carrion. In the video Dr. Ganji showed me, you can see the froth on their lips.

Even when the victim lurches forward, no longer able to stand upright in the hole, they continue to dash forward with their rocks. By this time, the white shroud has become soaked with blood. You can see them screaming in hate as they pound the bloody rags that the white shroud has become.

Welcome to the Islamic Republic of Iran, where the chairman of the Iranian Human Rights (sic) committee argues that stoning is an appropriate punishment. (Thanks to Michael Ledeen and Pyjamas media for that link).

International human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and even the left-leaning Human Rights Watch (which spends more effort blasting America’s presence in Iraq than it ever did exposing Saddam Hussein’s crimes against his own people) generally have done a good job in exposing the Islamic regime’s abuses over the years.

They will present some of this evidence at an informal hearing organized from 12:00-2:30 PM in room B369 of the Rayburn House Office Building on Thursday, July 26.

But in a travesty that defies comprehension, the moderator of this panel on Iranian regime human rights abuses is an individual I have described in these pages as “the mullahs’ voice” in Washington, DC.

Trita Parsi has been very active in creating a pro-regime lobby to oppose U.S. sanctions on Iran. He has also criticized the Bush administration for its half-hearted attempt to provide funding for pro-democracy activists inside Iran.

But he has never joined the front lines of the struggle on behalf of human rights in Iran. On the contrary, by arguing that the United States and the West should cut a deal with the Tehran regime, he has been denounced by pro-democracy activist Banafsheh Zand-Bonazzi – the daughter of long-time jailed journalist Siamak Pourzand -  as “un-Iranian.”

Independent Iranian writer Hassan Dailoleslam, who exposed Trita Parsi’s ties to key figures in the Iran oil mafia in April, believes that this latest venture is an attempt by the regime to use human rights as a bargaining chip with the West.

The goal of the Iranian lobby is “to present human rights as a negotiating item on the engagement table in hopes of getting human rights organizations to argue for Tehran-friendly rapprochement, easing of sanctions and tolerance of a nuclear Iran,” he told me.

“In a nut shell, the lobby’s message is that the more West pressures the regime, the more violent it becomes, hence, lift the pressure.”

Parsi’s lawyer, Afshin Pishavar, has accused me of publishing “false and defamatory” information about NIAC.

To what facts did NIAC object? Apparently none, because none are mentioned in the lawyer’s June 19, 2007 letter, which is addressed to Voice of America and, while mentioning my article, focuses instead on other issues.

NIAC’s initial on-line “rebuttal” of my article states that I equated “opposition to a US-Iran war with support for the Iranian government,” and then refers to my “support for war” with Iran.

In fact, as readers of this page know, I have argued consistently that war with Iran is the last, worst option that will be thrust upon the United States if we don’t take the wiser course, which is to support the legitimate aspirations of the Iranian people to freedom.

This not-so-subtle twisting of message and intent seeks to disguise the real agenda of Trita Parsi and NIAC, which is to support a negotiated deal with so-called “reformist” elements in Tehran, led by former Iranian president Ali Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani, a multi-billionaire cleric who was defeated by Ahmadinejad in the 2005 presidential elections.

NIAC admits this without a flinch. Referring to a C-SPAN appearance which I criticized in my earlier piece, NIAC noted that “Mr. Parsi insists that the US should follow the Iraq Study Group’s recommendation to pursue diplomacy with Iran.”

NIAC has consistently opposed U.S. assistance to pro-democracy groups in Iran.

When Senator Sam Brownback (R, KS) unveiled the original Iran Democracy Act in 2003, NIAC noted that 80% of users of its on-line legislative center opposed the bill, which provided $50 million to pro-democracy groups.

For someone such as Trita Parsi to be mentioned in the same sentence as the phrase “human rights” is a travesty For him to host a panel to discuss human rights abuses in Iran defies comprehension.

Liberals and conservatives have found rare unity when it comes to opposing the radical, terrorist regime in Tehran. In the California legislature, Democrats and Republicans unanimously supported Assembly Bill 221, to disinvest the state pension funds from companies doing business in the Iranian oil and gas sector.

In the U.S. Congress, Democrats and Republicans regularly work together to strengthen U.S. sanctions on Iran, and to expand funding for the pro-democracy movement.

But NIAC’s agenda is different. As the group announced just this week, they support expanded U.S. talks with Iran “to include issues of contention between the two countries” that go well beyond Iranian support for Iraqi terrorist groups.

In Tehran, dissident cleric Ayatollah Hossein Kazameni Borujerdi waits on death row after his execution was temporarily stayed on June 25. His crime? Opposing absolute rule of the clergy.

Borujerdi recently appealed to the Pope – and to the same human rights organizations that will sit together in Washington next week with the enemy of Iranian freedom, Trita Parsi.

On July 10, armed thugs abducted well-known labor leader Mansoor Osanloo as he stepped off a bus in Tehran, shouting to passersby that he was "an enemy of Islam."

These are but a few short takes of the most recent outrages committed by the Tehran regime against the people of Iran. But don’t look to Mr. Parsi and his group for information on such events, or to rally support for Iranian freedom fighters.

They are too busy lobbying Congress to lift sanctions against the Tehran regime and to negotiate a grand bargain with Tehran’s ruling clerics.


Kenneth R. Timmerman was nominated for the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize along with John Bolton for his work on Iran. He is Executive Director of the Foundation for Democracy in Iran, and author of Countdown to Crisis: the Coming Nuclear Showdown with Iran (Crown Forum: 2005).


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