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Right Turn
Posted at 09:45 AM ET, 10/11/2011

Iran’s human rights abuses go largely unnoticed

Last December I wrote: “The international bank HSBC says it is pulling an ad that juxtaposes a plug for the bank’s ability to find ‘potential in unexpected places’ with a factoid about Iran: ‘Only 4% of American films are made by women. In Iran it’s 25%.’” The ad was subsequently pulled.

On Monday we got a good look at how those female filmmakers are treated in Iran. AFP reports:

Actress Marzieh Vafamehr has been sentenced to a year in jail and 90 lashes for her role in a film about the limits imposed on artists in the Islamic republic, an Iranian opposition website reported Sunday.
“A verdict has been issued for Marzieh Vafamehr, sentencing her to a year in jail and 90 lashes,” Kalameh.com reported.
“Her lawyer has appealed the sentence, which was handed down [Saturday],” the report added, without giving further details.
Vafamehr was arrested in July after appearing in “My Tehran for Sale,” which came under harsh criticism in [Iranian] conservative circles.
The film, produced in collaboration with Australia, tells the story of a young actress in Tehran whose theatre work is banned by the authorities. She is then forced to lead a secret life in order to express herself artistically.

Well, that certainly puts things in perspective.

A congressional aide e-mailed me, “More brutal and thuggish behavior by the goons who run Iran. The Obama Administration should announce that it will impose human rights sanctions — as mandated by the McCain provision of the Comprehensive Iran Sanction, Accountability, and Divestment Act — against any Iranian officials involved in this travesty and make them infamous for their abuses.”

On Sept. 30, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, prompted by a different matter, released this statement:

The United States is deeply concerned by reports of the Iranian government’s continued repression of its people. Despite statements from Iran’s Supreme Leader and President claiming support for the rights and freedoms of Iranian citizens and people in the region, the government continues its crackdown on all forms of dissent, belief, and assembly.
We are particularly concerned by reports that Christian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani is facing execution on charges of apostasy for refusing to recant his faith. This comes amid a harsh onslaught against followers of diverse faiths, including Zoroastrians, Sufis, and Baha’is.
Iran’s government continues to arrest journalists and filmmakers. They are restricting access to information by jamming incoming satellite broadcasts and filtering the Internet.
The United States stands with the international community and all Iranians against the Iranian government’s hypocritical statements and actions, and we continue to call for a government that respects the human rights and freedom of all those living in Iran. [Emphasis added.]

That sounds ludicrous, doesn’t it? We call. The Iranians kill and imprison and oppress.

Moreover, Iran continues to undermine peace and stability in the region. As the Wall Street Journal reported last month: “Military commanders and intelligence officers are pushing for greater authority to conduct covert operations to thwart Iranian influence in neighboring Iraq, according to U.S. officials. The move comes amid growing concern in the Obama administration about Iran’s attempts in recent months to expand its influence in Iraq and the broader Middle East and what it says is Tehran’s increased arms smuggling to its allies.”

And all of this goes on before Iran has acquired nuclear weapons. Whether we look at its despicable human rights record at home, its persistent support of terrorism or its complicity in the killing of American troops in the region, the Iranian regime now acts openly and with impunity. The Obama administration’s failure to support robustly the June 2009 Green Revolution certainly is one of the most egregious missed opportunities in recent history. We and the Iranian people will suffer the consequences of our timidity for a very long time.

By  |  09:45 AM ET, 10/11/2011

Categories:  foreign policy, Human Rights, Iran

 
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