Iran’s treatment of its political prisoners has become a major concern for many human rights agencies in the country and around the world. International condemnation has done little to stop Iran from carrying out this atrocity. The main reason is that Iran feels that it has nothing to fear. Given its unchallenged ability to aid the Palestinian group, Hamas, in Israel, it’s ability to influence Iraq as well as Syria and the support that the US military needs from them in the gulf, makes it impossible for them to cow down to international threats and demands.
Iran has a long record of cracking down on dissidents in the country. Most of them are either locked away for a long time or face execution because of their “alleged crimes”.
Prisoners On Hunger Strike
In order to present their issue to human rights agencies, more than 20 political prisoners engaged in a 35-day hunger strike with the hope that their plight will be heard. This strike started off in one prison and within no time, political prisoners in other prisons joined them in their quest.
The strike is aimed to address the hostile nature in which political prisoners are held. Most of them are put in sections where the cells have covered windows. Food, clean water and beds are not a guarantee to the prisoners.
Many organisations opposed to the style of rule by the Iranian government indicate that the hunger strike is a clear portrayal of the growing opposition. They believe that the spirit of resistance is still alive and strong among the many political prisoners who have been held in Iran’s prisons. Furthermore, many Iranians have started to talk about the plight of the prisoners, something that has inadvertently turned out to be a symbol of solidarity.
The Iranian government has on record indicated that they have been treating their prisoners humanely and that any source that says otherwise is wrong. This was done when a Pakistani lawyer working for the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights published a report detailing the atrocities that political prisoners in the state faced.
According to the United Nations rapporteur, those people who opposed the government in any way were not given any form of fair trial. The courts were an extension of the executive authority’s tough stance on dissidents. Furthermore, political prisoners were subjected to forms of torture such as flogging, stoning and in extreme cases, amputation. The state of the prisons is also inhumane and the over-crowding has done little to make the situation any better.
Iran And The United States Deal
Many experts point a finger at the 2015 nuclear deal between the United States and Iran that aimed to curb Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for a lifting of sanctions. The only problem is that the unfrozen accounts are being used to bankroll Iran’s power conquest in the region whilst competing with other economic giants like Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.
They are currently involved in funding Shiite militias in Iraq, the uprising in Yemen and have renewed their aid to Hamas, an enemy of Israel.
Most of the prisoners have been involved actively in criticising the current government over its involvement in other countries and its Islamic rule. However, the government is still determined to achieve its goal of a Shia Crescent in the region, one dictated by hard-line Islamic rule.
Check out the life of Chinese Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo.