August 7th, 2011 – [Jaras: Aida Ghajar] In an exclusive interview with Jaras, Ardeshir Amir Arjomand, senior adviser to Mir Hossein Mousavi and spokesperson for the Coordination Council for the Green Path of Hope spoke amongst other things of his letter to Ahmed Shaheed, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights to Iran, the role of the UN Special Rapporteur, the illegal house arrest of the leaders of the Green movement, the upcoming elections and Iran’s Constitution. Dr. Amir Arjomand reiterated unequivocally: “In the event that the current conditions remain unchanged and the status quo continues, participation in the elections is a strategic mistake.”
Amir Arjomand added: “If the leaders of the Green movement, political activists and journalists remain behind bars and political parties and independent media outlets remain closed, it is a clear sign that the ruling government has no inclination or desire to change the status quo.” Amir Arjomand continued: “Declaring whether or not we will participate in the elections will not suffice. We must become actively engaged, change our approach and take initiative.”
The following is the complete content of Jaras’ interview with the spokesperson of the Coordination Council for the Green Path of Hope:
Given your letter to Ahmed Shaheed, as a lawyer and in your role as the spokesperson for the Council, in your opinion, how effective have the statements and letters expressing the need for his immediate presence in Iran as the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Human Rights been?
We have an obligation to do everything in our power. The protection of human rights is the duty of every sovereign government. The international community has no interest in interfering with the internal affairs of a country and it will not get involved unless a government demonstrates indifference towards upholding the human rights of its citizens. In other words, the international community will only get involved when a country demonstrates that it does not have the ability to guarantee the human rights of its citizens. Human rights are clearly a global issue and international organizations are required to define these rights and do everything in their power to protect citizens whose rights are being violated by their own governments.
One of the duties of the Human Rights Council for example is to monitor the manner in which various countries uphold the human rights of their citizens. In addition to the establishment of this Council, the UN works to ensure that human rights standards are upheld across the globe.
One of the methods used to address the violation of such standards, is through the assignment of a Special Rapporteur on Human Rights. When a Special Rapporteur is assigned to investigate the human rights violations of a specific country, it means that the country in question has been charged with human rights violations. This action takes place based on reliable evidence at the UN’s disposal.
In reality the assignment of a Special Rapporteur on Human rights, puts the international reputation of a country at risk. When a Special Rapporteur was assigned to Iran, it led to diplomatic and legal pressure on the Iranian government; pressure that is designed to force the government to pay attention to ensuring human rights standards within the country.
It is our observation that the Iranian government is intentionally avoiding making any explicit and clear decisions with regards to the Special Rapporteur. This is partly as a result of the political games they are playing, but also as a result of the political dead-end they find themselves in. The Iranian government is in deadlock and experiencing both a theoretical and practical dead-end. Their inability to take clear and decisive decisions is a direct result of this impasse.
The letter we sent to Ahmed Shaheed was first and foremost designed to better familiarize Dr. Shaheed with the current situation in Iran. It goes without saying that he has certainly done his homework and continues to gather and assess the situation in Iran. The Coordination Council for the Green Path of Hope strives to reflect the viewpoints of an important segment of Iran’s society and has always sought to provide accurate information to the people. As a result, the information stemming from the Council can be trusted. Secondly, this letter was written to help sensitize the international community to the current situation in Iran and in particular bring attention to the fact that the leaders of the Green movement continue to live under an illegal house arrest. I believe that this type of actions will lead to positive outcomes for the Green movement and upholding human rights in Iran. The Council is not the only entity to have taken such measures. Other groups have taken similar measures and we will continue to do so.
In the past several weeks, Ahmed Shaheed has written to the Iranian government requesting permission to travel to Iran. Despite his numerous efforts, he has not received a clear response as of yet. From a legal point of view, how long can this process last and what effect if any will it have on Dr. Shaheed’s ability to publish his final report?
It looks as though the Iranian government is engaging in a political game. Not providing a clear answer is a tactic designed to buy time and prevent the opposing party from getting organized. They have of course engaged in this type of behavior in the past. The fact that they refuse to provide a clear answer is yet another sign of the lack of responsibility demonstrated by the government of Iran vis-a-vis its actions and the international community is fully aware of their behavior.
Ahmed Shaheed started his work on August 1st. He has access to many documents for the preparation of his report and he plans to present his report in September. There is no doubt that Mr. Shaheed will not wait for the government of Iran to stop giving him the run around in order to complete his job.
The Special Rapporteur will do what he can to be present in Iran, but if he is not successful, he will gather sufficient reliable documentation and eye witness accounts to publish his report. His work will not be stopped, but it goes without saying that the Iranian government fears the presence of a Special Rapporteur, for they know that his presence will lead to interactions with the families of political prisoners and citizens from various segments of Iran’s society. Witnessing the oppressive climate and the crackdown of the government on political parties and independent media outlets first hand is yet another fear. Their only recourse is to wait and perhaps extend a last minute invitation two days before Dr. Shaheed’s deadline to complete his final report, ensuring that he does not have the necessary access to the individuals he must interview. I highly doubt however, that the Special Rapporteur will agree to such an arrangement.
The ruling powers in Iran claim to have full power and authority and yet they are shaken by the prospect of Ahmed Shaheed’s visit to Iran. Why?
The ruling government is experiencing a threat to its power. The international community views the Iranian government’s refusal to accept Ahmed Shaheed as insisting upon their failure to adhere to international human rights standards, leading the UN to adopt new policies that will even further isolate them. Given that Iran is experiencing a deep, insoluble crises as a result of the oppressive and inefficient political, social and economic policies of the ruling government, international diplomatic efforts and isolation will only lead to further increase the restrictions on the ruling government. As a result, the government will find itself in a dead end, becoming cognizant of their difficult predicament. The contradictory statements and positions by the ruling government only further demonstrates the existence of this impasse.
Can you please further explain what you mean when you refer to a “dead-end”?
Most authorities agree that the Islamic Republic’s refusal to accept Ahmed Shaheed as Special Rapporteur for Human Rights to Iran will only lead to further international isolation of the government of Iran, paving the way for more serious decisions and actions by the international community. Human rights violations in Iran are extreme, numerous and evident. Ahmed Shaheed’s presence will only result in the incidents being further documented. This will further de-legitimize the ruling government, creating higher international acceptance and support for the leaders of the Green movement and the political prisoners and other victims enduring injustice and oppression at the hands of the regime.
Is there a consensus within the Iranian establishment on the rejection of Ahmed Shaheed?
It looks as though there are tactical differences. Some believe that a radical and aggressive stance should be adopted against the UN’s decision to assign a Special Rapporteur and in doing so reject this assignment. This group believe that accepting Ahmed Shaheed given the current circumstances is high risk and will cause irreparable damage to the regime. They view acceptance of the Special Rapporteur as synonymous to international legitimacy of the protesters. Others believe that they have no choice but to accept his assignment and in order to minimize and mitigate the risks [to the regime] associated with his presence, this group seek to create confusion and make it difficult for him to get organized. It is for this reason that on the one hand they create rumors that high ranking officials have agreed to Shaheed’s visit and on the other hand reject his assignment to this post. By putting Dr. Shaheed under pressure, they seek to force him to agree to a limited presence, controlled by the state, security and judiciary officials in Iran. By creating a climate of uncertainty, their goal is to make it difficult for Ahmed Shaheed to organize and plan precisely, so that they can control the process and the outcome by planning on his behalf.
They will ensure for example that plain clothes agents are present to greet Ahmed Shaheed upon his arrival, protesting against the UN and the leaders of the Green movement. They will organize meetings with individuals who claim to be families of the so called martyrs and victims of the post election demonstrations. There will be meetings with officials at academic and human rights institutions under the management of the state, where those employed will have no choice but to repeat the dictated policies of their employers. They will create meetings with fabricated political prisoners who will reiterate that they are content with their condition in prison and pressure the real political prisoners and their families to refrain from revealing the truth. They will create an artificial and temporary image of improved prison conditions, all to ensure that Ahmed Shaheed presents a less damaging report, hoping to secure further visits to Iran.
What effect do you believe the assignment of a UN Special Rapporteur and his potential presence in Iran will have on the current condition of prisoners in Iran? This is not the first of such assignments. The most successful report on the violation of human rights was presented when the Special Rapporteur was allowed to meet with Amir Entezam. However, after this visit and despite the report presented by the Special Rapporteur, Entezam’s prison conditions did not improve. Could it be that prisoner conditions will also not improve as a result of this potential visit and report?
A Special Rapporteur’s role is to investigate human rights violations in a country, in other words if he/she has obtained certain information, their goal is to visit the country in question in order to verify the validity of the reports. When the Special Rapporteur is forbidden from visiting the country in question, it only further legitimizes the existence of such violations within that country. The Special Rapporteur will write his report. The report will be presented to the officials at the UN and they will make their decisions on what actions need to be taken based on the content and conclusions of the report.
Although the visit by a Special Rapporteur should lead to improvements in prisoner conditions and human rights violations, it is nevertheless not unheard of for countries to behave in a manner to ensure that a more favorable report is presented by the Special Rapporteur.
Without a doubt there is a very high probability that those who provide information to the international authorities regarding human rights violations in their country are later harassed and pressured. I still believe however, that if they allow Ahmed Shaheed to visit Iran, providing him access to the prisoners, many of our political prisoners are willing to expose themselves to any potential risk and danger and will speak their minds openly. It goes without saying that the presence of Ahmed Shaheed in Iran without the opportunity to meet freely with the leaders of the Green movement and other prominent figure is meaningless. I am certain that given the opportunity they will courageously reveal the truth.
You made reference to the house arrest of the leaders of the Green movement. Some believe that those who hold them hostage seek to render their house arrest ordinary and commonplace over time. What strategy has been devised to ensure that their house arrest does not become mundane and an ordinary part of life?
What reaction did the leaders of the Green movement expect from the movement? Did they expect the people to revolt? I believe that this has never been their intention for if this had been the case, they had plenty of other opportunities to call upon the nation to revolt in the streets of Iran. They could have made such a request of the nation when approximately 4 million citizens came to the streets after the rigged elections. Similar opportunities existed even after that, so we can safely conclude that the question of an uprising was never the main concern, nor was is it one that the leaders of the Green movement supported or preferred.
Our nation continues to demand their release and taking the current circumstances into consideration, Green activists must investigate all possibilities and select the most effective and practical tactics that ensure their freedom.
Of course our first duty is to create awareness and maintain and strengthen our existing social networks and in doing so facilitate collaboration between the various segments of our movement, devising political actions, taking into consideration the current sociopolitical capacities of the Iran society. The Coordination Council will do everything in its power to ensure that such open collaboration takes place. We will all be required to focus on this important issue and ensure improvements moving forward. We must all collaborate closely to design a detailed, precisely planned campaign that is both local and international in nature, demanding their unconditional release.
As a lawyer, what is your legal understanding of the term “kidnapping”, a term used by many legal experts to describe the predicament of the leaders of the Green Movement?
They have arrested individuals without a legal judgment by a court of law and without due process. They have been hidden from the public and to date there has been no legal accountability for what has happened to them. Let’s take the issue of whether or not their family members should be allowed to visit with them. Even if we assume that the fact that their families have been allowed to visit with them is open to a variety of legal interpretations, there is no doubt that what has occurred here is a form of kidnapping. In the eyes of the public, the government officials have kidnapped and taken Mr. Karroubi, Mr. Mousavi and their wives hostage.
One of the principles debated upon amongst the supporters and critics of the Green movement, is the reliance upon the existing Constitution. Given the current structure of the Constitution, how can we realistically pursue the objectives of the Green movement such as free and fair elections under the current Constitution?
There are parts of our Constitution that are undoubtedly weak from a the point of view of a democratic governance and we must be cognizant of this reality. What we seek and emphasize when it comes to the Constitution is that there are portions of the Constitution that address the rights of our citizens and our Republic and we must use these elements to our advantage in order to move our society to a place where they can determine their own destiny, ensuring self sovereignty.
Every peaceful movement requires a framework, a starting point of some sorts and the Constitution plays that role. Our goal is to achieve self sovereignty and the Constitution is the framework from which we can start achieving that goal. We must use what ever democratic elements exists within the existing Constitution to facilitate the further development of our movement and our goals.
The Constitution has never been nor is it a sacred document. It was ratified by the citizens of our country and it is the same citizens who will make amendments to it when they deem necessary. What we have emphasized and continue to emphasize is utilizing the Constitution as a starting point and framework to move towards achieving the objectives of our movement.
Let us not forget that there is always a gap between what the law states and how it is implemented. An effective law can become void when incorrectly implemented and laws that are perhaps imperfect or contain certain non democratic elements can be interpreted and implemented in a manner that will fulfill to a certain degree our democratic demands.
Can you make reference to the existence of such elements?
The key to limited power is accepting the existence of a Constitution, in other words accepting the fact that there is no individual or entity with arbitrary and unlimited power, whether that be the Supreme Leader, the Vali Faqih, or the Guardian Council.
Power is unfortunately anything but limited under the current environment in Iran. You made references to the elections. What meaning or significant will any elections have if the government does not view itself as accountable to the people and to their votes? What is the meaning of an election process when the government demands that the people select between predefined candidates, hand picked and dictated by the government? Why meaning do elections have if the ruling powers do not view their legitimacy in the votes and confidence of their own citizens?
Our Constitution includes principles that clearly emphasize the sovereignty of the people along side divine sovereignty. These include Articles 6 [Administration of Affairs] and Article 56 [Divine Right of Sovereignty], that reiterate absolute sovereignty belongs to GOD and the government is of the people and for the people. We can therefore conclude that in a system of governance that uses the people as its yardstick and criteria for governance, “Approbatory Supervision” [Nezarat-e-Estesvabi] in which the Guardian Council defines it’s duty as disqualifying candidates they deem not conservative enough, should not exist. No one can play the role of the Egyptian Pharaohs and at the same time claim that their country is a Republic. Article 20 of the Constitution [Equality Before the Law] states that all citizens of the country, both men and women, equally enjoy the protection of the law and enjoy all human, political, economic, social, and cultural rights, and yet the leaders of the opposition movement have been taken hostage in broad day light! Article 23 [Freedom of Belief] states that investigation of individuals’ beliefs is forbidden, and no one may be molested or taken to task simply for holding a certain belief. Article 24 guarantees the Freedom of the Press and Article 26 clearly describes the Freedom of Association. Article 15 defines the official language as Persian but states that the use of regional and tribal languages in the press and mass media, as well as for teaching of their literature in schools, is allowed in addition to Persian. Article 19 [No Discrimination, No Privileges] states that All people of Iran, whatever the ethnic group or tribe to which they belong, enjoy equal rights; color, race, language, and the like, do not bestow any privilege – and yet none of the aforementioned Articles of our Constitution are upheld. Respect for the legitimate demands of ethnic groups is imperative to the survival of our countries territorial integrity and national security. I can provide plenty of other examples, such as judicial due process as described in Article 22 [ Human Dignity & Rights], Article 32 [Arrest] and Article 39 [Dignity of Arrest]. However, the authoritarian interpretation of the Constitution, which at times is facilitated as a result of the imperfection in some of the articles, coupled with the violent interpretation of this government of Islam, a religion that is based on mercy, have completed violated the articles within the Constitution that are designed to protect the rights of the citizens of Iran.
Our Constitution does not include “Approbatory Supervision” [Nezarat-e-Estesvabi]. The Guardian Council has adopted an interpretation that is inconsistent with the spirit of the Constitution and the principle of self determination, announcing that the so called “Approbatory Supervision” is an interpretation of the Constitution and ratifying it into law.
There are specific measures and standards for implementing free and fair elections. In addition to human rights documents our Parliament is a member of the inter-parliamentary Council that unanimously adopted the Declaration on Criteria for Free and Fair Elections in 1994, however we don’t adopt the same criteria when it comes to our own elections. As such, when we talk of the Constitution and the role it can play in our move towards democracy, it is not because we agree with the interpretation of these gentlemen. We do not accept violence under the pretext of the law. What is occurring in Iran can often be described as “violence under the law”.
The law develops meaning when it stands on the side of justice. A law that does not uphold justice will lead to suppression. It is a law that upholds justice that facilitates the further development of structures, programs and institutions designed to protect the fundamental rights and human dignity of its citizens.
Free and fair elections are our fundamental right of citizens. We must force the security and intelligence forces who have monopolized our politics, the economy and even religion, to retreat . We must attack them from every angle until they have no choice but to surrender to free and fair elections. What is vitally important is that we remain active in this area. If the conditions and criteria we have defined are not provided, participating in any election process is a strategic mistake.
Participation in elections will become possible when the criteria for free elections exist and a process is launched that demonstrates that these conditions will be met.
The Coordination Council for the Green Path of Hope recently issued a statement regarding the elections, calling upon the nation of Iran to provide their opinions to the Council. What practical measure are being taken to gather these opinions and how can we ensure that these opinions are the view points of a significant segment of Iran‘s society?
Our request was not made in the form of a scientific survey. The Council published a preliminary statement in which the current conditions in Iran were described, providing a number of potential approaches. We called upon Iranian citizens to begin a dialogue with regards to the potential approaches and if they deem necessary to then inform us of their opinions regarding this matter. Our goal is to begin a dialogue regarding free and fair elections and to reach a relative consensus. We are not at the decision making phase when it comes to the elections. This does not mean however, that we wish to come to a consensus two days before the elections. In fact we need to come to some type of conclusion quickly and within the next month or two. If the leaders of the Green movement, political activists and journalists remain behind bars and political parties and independent media outlets remain closed it is a clear sign that the ruling government has no inclination or desire to change the status quo. Declaring whether or not we will participate in the elections will not suffice. We must become actively engaged, change our approach and take initiative.
During the 10th presidential elections, despite the widespread participation by the people, the government of Iran chose to deny them of their votes. If the demands and conditions of the people are not met again and the people boycott the elections, isn’t it possible that the government will once again rig the votes so that the results look more favorable to them?
What are our alternatives? The reason why we need to have an open dialogue is because we face a government that is monopolizing power and will not hesitate to violate the basic rights of its citizens. It is not unimaginable therefore, that they would seek to once again tamper with the election results.
What is our recourse? Is participation in the elections a must? We must select the most logical approach and wait to see if the conditions for free and fair elections will even exist. If they exist, we can participate, if not we should boycott the elections. Even if we choose not to participate, just declaring that we are boycotting the elections will not suffice, for we will need to have a specific plan and actively implement such plan. Elections provide us with an opportunity to create awareness, expose the truth and demonstrate the strong and active presence of the supporters of the Green movement across the streets of Iran. We are not closing the doors to a fair process. It is these gentlemen that fear fair and free elections. These gentlemen must respect the demands of the citizens of Iran and provide the means for free, fair, healthy and real elections. I believe that everyone will gladly welcome such a move.
* Footnote: The following are the Articles in the democratic elements within the current Constitution , violated by the ruling government as referred to by Dr. Amir Arjomand:
Article 6 [Administration of Affairs] of the Constitution
In the Islamic Republic of Iran, the affairs of the country must be administered on the basis of public opinion expressed by the means of elections, including the election of the President, the representatives of the Islamic Consultative Assembly, and the members of councils, or by means of referenda in matters specified in other articles of this Constitution.
Article 15 [Official Language]
The Official Language and script of Iran, the lingua franca of its people, is Persian. Official documents, correspondence, and texts, as well as text-books, must be in this language and script. However, the use of regional and tribal languages in the press and mass media, as well as for teaching of their literature in schools, is allowed in addition to Persian.
Article 19 [No Discrimination, No Privileges]
All people of Iran, whatever the ethnic group or tribe to which they belong, enjoy equal rights; color, race, language, and the like, do not bestow any privilege.
Article 20 [Equality Before the Law]
All citizens of the country, both men and women, equally enjoy the protection of the law and enjoy all human, political, economic, social, and cultural rights, in conformity with Islamic criteria.
Article 23 [Freedom of Belief]
The investigation of individuals’ beliefs is forbidden, and no one may be molested or taken to task simply for holding a certain belief.
Article 24 [Freedom of the Press]
Publications and the press have freedom of expression except when it is detrimental to the fundamental principles of Islam or the rights of the public. The details of this exception will be specified by law.
Article 26 [Freedom of Association]
The formation of parties, societies, political or professional associations, as well as religious societies, whether Islamic or pertaining to one of the recognized religious minorities, is permitted provided they do not violate the principles of independence, freedom, national unity, the criteria of Islam, or the basis of the Islamic Republic. No one may be prevented from participating in the aforementioned groups, or be compelled to participate in them.
Article 32 [Arrest]
No one may be arrested except by the order and in accordance with the procedure laid down by law. In case of arrest, charges with the reasons for accusation must, without delay, be communicated and explained to the accused in writing, and a provisional dossier must be forwarded to the competent judicial authorities within a maximum of twenty-four hours so that the preliminaries to the trial can be completed as swiftly as possible. The violation of this article will be liable to punishment in accordance with the law.
Article 39 [Dignity of Arrested]
All affronts to the dignity and repute of persons arrested, detained, imprisoned, or banished in accordance with the law, whatever form they may take, are forbidden and liable to punishment.
Article 56 [Divine Right of Sovereignty]
Absolute sovereignty over the world and man belongs to God, and it is He Who has made man master of his own social destiny. No one can deprive man of this divine right, nor subordinate it to the vested interests of a particular individual or group. The people are to exercise this divine right in the manner specified in the following articles.
Source: Jaras: http://www.rahesabz.net/story/40900/
اریخ انتشار: ۱۷ مرداد ۱۳۹۰, ساعت ۰:۴۳
دولتمردان ایران ادعا می کنند در کمال قدرت و اقتدار هستند. پس چرا این در رابطه با آمدن احمد شهید متزلزل عمل می کنند؟
می توانید منظور خود را از “بن بست” واضح تر بیان کنید؟
آیا در مورد عدم پذیرش احمد شهید اتفاق نظر وجود دارد؟
در زمان انتخابات دوره دهم ریاست جمهوری، حکومت ایران در حالی که حضور مردم چشمگیر بود رای آنها را دزدید، امروز اگر خواستهها و شروط مردم برآورده نشود با حاضر نشدن در انتخابات، این احتمال وارد نیست که بازهم حکومت آمار دروغ اعلام کند و واقعیت را وارونه نشان دهد؟