Iran Envoy Denounces 'Imperialist Myth of Human Rights'
September 1, 1982
Volume XII Number 9
The Government of Iran has stated that divine laws must have priority over human laws such as international human rights standards. Appearing before the Human Rights Committee in Geneva, a representative of the Iranian Government said that if a conflict arose between laws coming from God and laws drawn up by people, it was not difficult to see which norms ought to prevail. The Iranian statement came in reply to questions from members of the Human Rights Committee, a panel of 18 independent experts set up under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. States that have ratified the covenant must periodically report to the committee what measures they have taken to implement the covenant.
Iran-ratified the covenant in 1975 under the government of the Shah. The present government indicated that it wished to submit a new report because it considered the one submitted before the revolution no longer valid.
In response to Iran's four-page report, the committee posed extensive questions about mass executions, torture and repression of members of the Baha'i religious faith. One member of the committee, who pointed out that he himself was a Muslim, wanted to know which human rights were not being violated in Iran.
In his reply, the Iranian representative, Seyyed Hadi Khosrohahi, Iranian Ambassador to the Vatican, asked what gave the committee the right to ask all these questions and denounced the "imperialist myth of human rights"
As for the "ridiculous Baha'i question", he said that there was authoritative evidence that members of the Baha'i faith had played a prominent role under the government of the Shah and that they had provided financial assistance to Israel.
(Baha'i headquarters are in Haifa. Al knows of no evidence to support the charges of "espionage" usually brought by the Iranian authorities against Baha'is who have been executed. Al believes that the reason for their execution has been their religious belief.)
The Iranian representative did not reply in detail to the questions which had been asked about executions and torture in his country. However, he expressed his government's readiness to continue the dialogue with the committee and promised that a tuller supplementary report would be submitted as soon as the Iranian parliament had finished reviewing the country's legislation.
Al's concerns in Iran include the lack of fair trials for political prisoners, the detention of prisoners of conscience, the torture and ill treatment of prisoners and execution.
More than 4,400 people are known to have been executed since the revolution of February 1979. However, many executions appear not to have been publicly reported and Al believes that the actual number is much higher.
In many cases people appear to have been executed without any form of trial. In cases where trials have taken place defendants have not been allowed any legal assistance and have had no right of appeal against sentence.
Al has received hundreds of reports of allegations of torture in Iranian prisons, in particular in Evin prison in Teheran. Methods of torture described include beating, kicking, whipping with cables, banging heads against walls, burning with cigarettes and with an iron, and mock executions.