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Iran’s revealing submission to the Australian parliament

Nov 23, 2022 | Oved Lobel

(Image: Flickr)
(Image: Flickr)

Australia’s Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade References Committee is currently conducting an inquiry into the human rights implications of recent violence in Iran. Following its review of submissions, the committee is expected to report back by Feb. 1 on its findings and recommendations for Australian policy towards Iran. The terms of reference for this inquiry are fairly straightforward:

  1. the recent violence against women and girls by Iranian authorities;
  2. opportunities for nations that value human rights to support those being persecuted and oppressed in Iran;
  3. the potential application of sanctions on those responsible for the widespread violence and killing of women, girls and protesters in Iran;
  4. the appropriateness of Iran’s ongoing status on the UN Commission on the Status of Women;
  5. other actions available to the Australian Government and other like-minded nations to respond to human rights abuses in Iran; and
  6. any other related matters.

To address this inquiry, the Iranian embassy in Australia helpfully submitted a 3-and-a-half page Oct. 22 report by Iran’s “High Council for Human Rights” entitled “Reviewing the Methods that are used by Iranian Law Enforcement Forces to Deal with Riots”.

I say helpfully because not only did it not address the terms of reference at all, but its toxic blend of atrocity whitewashing, lies and conspiracy theories go a long way towards demonstrating exactly why Australia needs to take a stronger stand against the Iran’s theocratic regime, as AIJAC argues in its own submission.

First, the report deals only with the regime’s Law Enforcement Command (LEC), not the other ostensibly separate entities like the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Basij forces that help murder, torture and detain protesters en masse. In practice, of course, these are organisational distinctions without much practical difference: they are all controlled by the IRGC and under the direct authority of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

“Human rights constitute one of the main components” of LEC training, the report laughably claims. It was of course the “Guidance Patrol” of the LEC that allegedly beat 22-year-old Jina/Mahsa Amini to death for not wearing her headscarf according to regime standards back in September, thus sparking the protests in the first place. It need hardly be said that beating a young woman to death for not strictly adhering to the proudly misogynist diktats of the regime, and then murdering and torturing those protesting that occurrence, does not lend credence to the claim that human rights is a core component of LEC training.

On an Orwellian note, the report states “In order to protect the rights of female citizens, the women’s police unit has been formed… This unit dealt with individuals participating in the riots, with advanced and specialized training and a deterrent approach.” Given these protests are happening because female citizens have few rights and are being murdered in large numbers, this appears to be an especially cynical use of language.

The fact is that universal human rights, as conceived of by the Western world, is a concept that is absolutely anathema to societies like Iran run entirely by Islamic law. These regimes pride themselves on rejecting and rooting out “Westoxification”; that is, ethical and moral principle ultimately derived from the Christian and Jewish traditions in the West, which are seen as blasphemously superseding the laws of God as laid down in Islamic Sharia.

Iran’s submission was not only disingenuous about every aspect of LEC training and conduct – such as their praiseworthy “restraint”– but also dives into the conspiratorial nonsense spouted by Khamenei claiming that these protests were orchestrated from abroad. Khamenei has said multiple times that “The events over the past few weeks weren’t simple street riots. The enemy started a hybrid war. The US, Israel, some sly, vicious European powers, & certain groups used whatever they had to do this.”

The report accuses “some individuals affiliated with terrorist groups, certain foreign countries and Persian-language media outlets abroad” of being behind the violence and asserts “terrorist groups have played a proactive and undeniable role in inciting and encouraging rioters”.

The report also lauds Iran’s judiciary  – a murderous arm of the Islamic revolution that lacks even the pretence of independence, due process, or anything else that might be recognised in a judicial system in the West. It is a system that gives girls as young as nine years old the death penalty. Capital crimes in Iran include “insulting the Prophet”, “spreading corruption on earth”, “enmity against God”, apostasy, same-sex relations, adultery, drug-related offences and financial corruption. The regime also systematically mutilates, flogs and tortures detainees as punishment and has already condemned scores of protesters to death in an attempt to scare the rest, a long-standing practice.

In 1988, that same “judicial system” oversaw the extrajudicial execution of between 5,000 and 30,000 political prisoners, under a death commission which included current President Ebrahim Raisi.

Iran’s report asserts “the judicial system, by virtue of the law, has recognized the right to lodge a complaint for all the people who have been financially and physically injured during the riots, as well as the families of those who have lost their lives – the judicial system will spare no effort in order to pursue justice.” In reality,  family members of some of the 1500 protesters murdered by the regime in November 2019 are themselves being arrested and threatened precisely for lodging this sort of complaint.

It is unclear whether this submission reflects a total lack of self-awareness by the Islamic Republic about how hideous its behaviour appears domestically and internationally, or whether it is a deliberate attempt to mock Australia’s stance and inquiry. Either way, the Iranian submission to Australia’s inquiry is itself a strong argument for serious sanctions against Iran.

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