26/12/2013 Blog

“Cautiously optimistic, but worried Iran will soon slide back into darkness”

Since 2011 I have made numerous requests to visit Iran to investigate the situation of human rights personally, all of which have been denied. My engagement with Iran has improved in other ways though, most importantly through meeting with Iran’s UN representative in Geneva. I welcome such engagement and am hopeful to visit the country personally.

Yet, despite improved engagement and positive developments between Iran and the international community, I continue to receive seriously disturbing reports of human rights abuses inside the country. It is in this context that I announced last week my fact-finding efforts in the Iranian community in diaspora in Europe.

After speaking this week with dozens of victims of human rights abuses from Iran in Amsterdam, Berlin, and Paris, I feel as strongly as ever that the international community must continue to urgently shine a spotlight on human right issues in Iran. The country’s leadership has a rare opportunity to affect positive change in the lives of all Iranians. Rhetoric on change must be supported by concrete action or the opportunity will be missed. As an Iranian woman in Berlin described, “[we are] cautiously optimistic, but worried Iran will soon slide back into darkness.”

I sense that many Iranians are optimistic—albeit cautiously—that the new administration does wish to improve the situation, and with enough support, will be able to do so in time. But time is not unlimited, and given the recent arrests of netizens for free expression, the alarming executions of Kurdish and Ahwazi political prisoners, and the ongoing unacceptably high rate of executions in general in the country, it is time for the Government to take concrete action.

I look forward to the development of the Citizen’s Rights Charter, however, in the absence of meaningful international pressure, political momentum in this regard may quickly dissipate. For my part, I remain ready and willing to work with authorities to implement concrete changes that will allow for increased freedom of expression, association, and assembly, and for judicial and prison reform in the near-term.

If this were to occur, I would be the first to compliment the Government on positive progress.