Tag Archives: Ruhollah Khomeini

Iran: Leader in Human Rights Violation

iran-hangings-from-cranesThe Iranian military published a flimsy and unsubstantiated 28-page report this week criticizing human rights in the United States. Intriguingly, the report was supported by the Basij, a militia governmental group that is a leader in human rights violations, according to numerous international organizations. Several of its leaders have been convicted of crimes against humanity, and cannot leave the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Ahmed Esfandiyari, the lieutenant commander of the Basij force, was quoted by the semi-official Fars News Agency as saying that similar reports on the human rights situation about other Western countries would be released on a regular and quarterly basis.

Iranian military leaders were excited about the ceremony for the publication of the 28-page report on human rights and the US held Monday in Tehran. The reports lacks any statistical data for supporting its conclusions, and it fails to provide any credible arguments to back its thesis. It draws on cases arbitrarily, such as the case of George Zimmerman.

Speaking of Iran’s record, Esfandiyari mentioned that human rights issues are at the foundation of the Iranian government and that Iran’s emphasis on human rights is “extensive.”

It is ironic that Iranian Ayatollahs, Mullahs and leaders are boasting about their human rights records while the nation is carrying out egregious human rights abuses, according to various international organizations.

These facts are documented by credible international human rights organizations such as Amnesty International, rather than by a militia group that itself carries out crimes against humanity. It is worth noting that these facts are the official ones, there are many covert human rights violations being carried out in Iran and other Islamic countries that are not recorded by human rights organizations or Amnesty International since they cannot be adequately verified.

Iran tops many credible lists compiled about human rights violations, lack of democracy, and constriction of rights including freedom of speech, press, assembly, and political participation of the citizenry. Iran tops the rank in arbitrary arrests and detentions, capital punishment, stoning, unequal rights for women and men, widespread abuses against members of recognized and unrecognized religious and ethnic minorities— this groups includes Christians and Baha’is who have been discriminated against and continue to encounter arbitrary detention and unfair trials, and be denied educational opportunities and jobs.

In addition, according to Human Rights Watch, Iran also engages in systematic discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.  According to the organization, “Iran is one of only seven countries with laws allowing executions for consensual same-sex conduct.”

Several branches of the Iranian regime have been accused by international organizations of human rights abuses, including the volunteer paramilitary force, the Basij, the judiciary, as well as security forces like the elite Islamist Revolutionary Guards Corps.

According to Amnesty International, just since the beginning of 2014, the Islamist state of Iran has carried out a total of 40 executions. According to reports, at least 33 of these executions were carried out in the past week alone. These executions are officially acknowledged by the Iranian regime.  Public executions were also carried out this month, on January 14th in a city called Saveh, Markazi Province, in the northern part of Iran.

“The spike in the number of executions carried out so far this month in Iran is alarming. The Iranian authorities’ attempts to change their international image are meaningless if at the same time executions continue to increase,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa. Iran’s Islamist authoritarian rulers have abused their own people for decades, since 1979.

In 2013, thousands of students, political activists, human rights activists, filmmakers, lawyers, advocates for gender equality, Iranians with ties to Western countries, journalists, ethnic and religious minorities, and religious dissidents have been arrested, jailed and executed by the Iranian regime. Many of these victims did not receive due process. Many are tried in the military courts of Iran’s notorious Revolutionary Guards Corps.

According to Sahraoui, “Revolutionary Courts which routinely fall far short of international fair trial standards. The reality in Iran is that people are being ruthlessly sentenced to death after unfair trials, and this is unacceptable.”

Iran’s constitution legitimizes these human rights abuses by adding Sharia or Islamic laws to almost every article. For example, when it comes to arresting bloggers and torturing those who exercise free speech or press, a certain article states, “publications and the press are free to express their ideas unless these contravene the precepts of Islam or harm public rights. These conditions will be defined by laws.” This gives the Islamist regime the legal apparatuses to arrest, torture, jail, kill and execute people.

These recent happenings are only the tip of the iceberg of human rights abuses in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Unlike Iran’s 28 page unsubstantiated report collected by an institution accused of crimes against humanity, the aforementioned reports about Iran’s human rights abuses are collected by credible international organizations that do not record anything until it is completely verified by the concrete evidence.

Freedom Center pamphlets now available on Kindle: Click here.

Iran’s new defense minister orchestrated attacks on US, Israeli forces

Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs reports that Brig. Gen. Hossein Dehghan, slated to be Iran’s new defense minister, was responsible for building Hezbollah and was behind the suicide bombing at the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut that killed 241 Marines.

The (Plastic) Key to Understanding Iranian Martyrdom

By Kevin Sullivan

The story goes something like this: During the IranIraq War, faced with an invading Iraqi army, the outgunned and overwhelmed Islamic Republic of Iran eventually resorted to “human wave” attacks in order to sweep for land mines and absorb Iraqi heavy artillery. The ruling mullahs embarked on a variety of indoctrination campaigns both in public and on the pulpit to mobilize Iran’s faithful out to the front lines. In order to entice Iranians to volunteer — or, in some cases, to volunteer their children — promises of eternal peace and pleasure in the afterlife were guaranteed.

“Plastic keys, ostensibly good for opening the door to heaven, and to erotic and culinary delights, were … given to these young men, who walked to their deaths,” wrote Stanford University’s Abbas Milani in a 2007 essay for Boston Review. The Iranian government was “so certain” that these martyrs would be sacrificed, explained Iran watcher Michael Ledeen back in 2008, “that these little children were provided with plastic keys that were said to open the gates to paradise.”

Thus we have the legend of the paradise keys. Many Mideast analysts and observers — yours truly included — have referenced these keys throughout the years. In some tellings these keys are said to have been made of plastic — in others, brass or gold — and imported from either China or Taiwan. So pervasive is the keys story, that they have even made appearances in relatively obscure (and somewhat disturbing, NSFW) punk and folk songs.

Just one problem: There is virtually no photographic or video evidence that these keys ever existed. I contacted several trusted Iran experts and analysts, and while none were willing to outright reject the validity of the paradise keys story, none had ever seen one, nor could they say with certainty that they ever truly existed.

Upon first appraisal, this might strike someone as rather odd. For a country believed by many to be bent on martyrdom and sacrifice, you would think, said Mideast analyst Meir Javedanfar, that the ruling mullahs would have gone out of their way to preserve and promote these artifacts. “While it is possible that such keys existed,” said Javendanfar, “the fact that there is no visual verification of them gives credibility to those who question their existence.”

Or does it? After all, one obvious answer as to why these keys are so hard to come by is that so few of their original owners — often young boys and older men — survived long enough to boast about their war souvenirs. As Reuel Marc Gerecht of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies put it, “many of these folks lived to die.” Indeed — though concrete casualty numbers are difficult to come by — we know that thousands of Iranian volunteer soldiers (Basijis) marched to their deaths in that long, bloody war of attrition with Iraq. The last thing these martyrs were likely concerned about was the preservation of the one-way ticket around their necks.

And that, to analysts like Gerecht, is the more salient point. While the gruesome nature of the Iran-Iraq War would ultimately turn many would-be martyrs away from the cause, it’s the ones who didn’t walk away from Iran’s revolutionary ideology after the war, according to Gerecht, who should worry us.

“A fraternity of death developed. One of the reasons that some of the senior IRGC [Revolutionary Guardsmen] are so scary,” explained Gerecht, the former CIA case manager, “is that they survived the war and walked away still white hot. As if their survival had been vouchsafed by God.”


It’s with that in mind that many Iran experts say this regime cannot and should not be contained. If, after all, the upper echelons of today’s Islamic Republic were forged in the blood and sacrifice of the war against Iraq, then who’s to say those same true believers wouldn’t use a nuclear weapon against Israel, or threaten America and its global assets? What’s to prevent that “death cult” from martyring the entire state of Iran?

There is, however, reason to believe that even Iran‘s elite Revolutionary Guard can be targeted and contained. Setting aside the guard’s messianic reputation, it is, by most measurements, an organization in search of the world’s more sublunary pleasures. The afterlife may be a paradise, but the here and now has been pretty good to the IRGC. Moreover, even if we were to assume the worst about Iranian war tactics back then, national fratricide certainly isn’t unique to the Islamic Republic. As Matthew Duss of the Center for American Progress noted in a 2011 article for Foreign Policy, two 20th Century regimes that actually did martyr millions of their own citizens — China and the Soviet Union — still posed a mostly terrestrial and containable challenge to Western policymakers.

That the newly-empowered mullahs appealed to Iranian patriotism — and fear — in order to mobilize poorly-trained civilians to the front lines is important and noteworthy, but so too is understanding the besieged Iranian mindset at the time of the war. An Iraqi dictator with imperial ambitions — left mostly to his own devices by the international community, and aided by much of the West — declared war on a society already in revolutionary flux. As the eight-year-long war went on, neighboring Arab regimes — due in no small part to Iranian instigation and terrorism in the Gulf and the Levant — coalesced around Saddam Hussein’s Baathist regime — and against Tehran.

Desperate nations have resorted to desperate (and questionable) war tactics throughout history. So what makes this particular regime so different? This, according to analysts like Duss, is why the paradise keys matter.

“For U.S. hawks,” said Duss, “the keys function as a distillation of that ‘martyr state’ theory, a physical representation of Iran’s ‘irrational’ religious ideology.” Such efforts to dehumanize an enemy can prove doubly effective, says Duss, when the slaughter of children — possibly against their will — is offered in addendum to the plastic keys tale.

In other words, the paradise keys tend to say less about the tactics and intentions of modern-day Iran, and more about the Iran debate in Washington and other Western capitals.

“The keys fall into the legend category,” said Iranian-American journalist and author Hooman Majd, “but with enough circumstantial evidence to make it more than just a myth.” Though he has never personally seen one of these keys, Majd has heard the story enough to believe they likely existed — perhaps handed out only in certain circumstances, and by only certain mullahs.

So is the story true? Maybe. All wars have their share of exaggerated legends and tales rooted in shades of truth. Interpretations of how one side chose to win or lose a war — as demonstrated in the recent Yasukuni Shrine controversy — can have a lasting effect on foreign policy and relations years after the final shots have been fired. In the case of Iran, how the country chose to fight and defend itself in the Iran-Iraq War still holds policy ramifications to this day. Rational regimes can be contained, but can an irrational one? That is the more pressing question, keys or no keys.

Editor’s Note: Have you ever seen or owned a paradise key? Email me and tell us your story.

Kevin Sullivan is editor of RealClearWorld. Follow him on Twitter @kevinbsullivan or send emails to ksullivan@realclearpolitics.com.