Newspaper article China Post

Abuses Overshadow Iran's Reforms

Newspaper article China Post

Abuses Overshadow Iran's Reforms

Article excerpt

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- A host of "systemic and systematic violations of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights" continue to plague Iran despite the election of the purportedly reformist President Hassan Rouhani. That's part of a stinging assessment of the current human rights landscape according to Ahmed Shaheed, the U.N.'s Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Despite the Tehran government's new "softer image" to the outside world after the aggressively confrontational era of former president Ahmadinejad, and the seemingly diplomatic flexibility on the country's embryonic nuclear weapons program, there's little question that this country of 76 million people suffers from widespread human rights abuses based on gender, religion, and, obviously, political opinion.

Ahmed Shaheed's report to the U.N. General Assembly focuses on key issues such as gender discrimination. The U.N. rapporteur holds "considerable concern about laws and regulations used to perpetuate discrimination at home, in education and in the workplace, and about the government's continued failure to reconsider policies in this area."

For example, the document states that the regime "restricts female access to higher education, while all 30 women who registered as candidates for the June 2013 presidential elections were disqualified."

Equally, the report focuses on the "plight of journalists," under which some 600 reporters are what is defined as an "anti-state" network, fifteen journalists have been arrested since January 2013, and up to five million websites are reportedly blocked.

During Iran's disputed 2009 presidential elections, an upsurge of domestic pro-democracy sentiments known as the Green Revolution was widely ignored by the Obama Administration.

In a separate report, the media watchdog group Reporters Without Borders listed the Islamic Republic of Iran at near the bottom of its rankings of press freedom. Of 179 countries surveyed in the Press Freedom Index 2013, Iran was ranked at 174, just after Cuba and mainland China. …

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