No room for human rights complacency as sanctions are lifted

17th January 2016

The Committee for the Iranian People’s Rights (CODIR) has today warned against complacency in pressing the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran on its human rights record, now that international sanctions are set to be lifted.

While welcoming the opportunities which the lifting of sanctions will bring for the beleaguered Iranian economy and its impoverished workforce, CODIR has stated that there is still much work to do on the human and democratic rights agenda.

CODIR Assistant General Secretary, Jamshid Ahmadi, stressed the importance of the international community continuing to support the campaign for human and democratic rights in Iran.

“The detention of hundreds of trade unionists and political activists remains a reality of life in Iran today. They are often detained without charge or for alleged ‘crimes’ which cannot be justified on any basis according to the laws of natural justice. Trade union rights are a basic human right and international pressure upon the Iranian government is vital if we are to achieve the release of those unjustly imprisoned.”

The lifting of international sanctions against Iran follows the report of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) this weekend, indicating Iran’s compliance with the IAEA inspection regime in relation to its domestic nuclear energy programme.

The announcement came shortly after the agreement of a mutual prisoner release between the United States and Iran, a further indication of the rapprochement between the two former protagonists. US officials confirmed that Iran has released four US-Iranian prisoners, including Jason Rezaian, the Washington Post Tehran correspondent who had been held since July 2014 on espionage and other charges.

In return, the US will pardon or drop charges against seven Iranians, six of whom are dual US-Iranian citizens, accused or convicted of violating US sanctions: Nader Modanlu, Bahram Mechanich, Khosro Afghahi, Arash Ghahraman, Touraj Faridi, Nima Golestaneh and Ali Sabounchi.

CODIR has welcomed the prisoner release as a further indicator of reduced tension between the United States and the Islamic Republic.

However, the solidarity group has suggested that if Iran is willing to negotiate with world powers and make concessions such as freeing foreign prisoners, it should make similar concessions in the domestic arena. This would mean freeing political prisoners including trade unionists, womens rights campaigners and the Green Movement leaders (Mousavi, Rahnavard, Karrubi) who have been under house arrest since 2009, in order to reduce domestic tension.

It is widely expected that Iran will use its access to new funds to gain revenue by selling its oil and gas in the international market. Given the levels of corruption in the system in Iran, CODIR has expressed concern that the new opportunities will not be used to create more wealth and prosperity for the people of Iran.

As Jamshid Ahmadi further stated,

“The theocratic regime will exploit the agreements made yesterday with the US and EU in Vienna to shore up its crisis-ridden policies internally. Leaders of the regime will try to use the agreement, to lift the devastating sanctions, as a justification for their policies in recent years. There will be no mention, not a single word, about their ‘adventurous’ and ill-judged policies which, since at least 2005, have not only isolated the country internationally but have also resulted in a system of economic sanctions that have absolutely devastated the economy.”

“The expansion of foreign investment in Iran could be a great opportunity for the ailing economy, provided that the investments are based on fair trade deals. The lack of protection for workers in Iran, due to the suppression of trade unions and trade unionism and low wages, give us cause for concern for the Iranian people.” “CODIR will continue to campaign for human and democratic rights in Iran and it is on this that we will focus our attention,” continued Mr Ahmadi. “We welcome the lifting of sanctions and reduction of tension between Iran and the rest of the world and in particular the US and the EU. However this should not be at the expense of liberty for Iranian human rights campaigners, trade unionists, women’s rights activists, democrats and peace activists.” As CODIR has emphasised previously, human rights violations are part of a coordinated policy of the Islamic Republic of Iran to maximise pressure on trade union activists, their colleagues and family members in order to silence them and pressurise the trade union movement in Iran.


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Further information for Editors
CODIR is the Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People’s Rights. It has been established since 1981 and has consistently campaigned to expose human rights abuses in the Islamic Republic of Iran.
CODIR has worked closely with the trade union movement in the UK, the peace movement, all major political parties and Amnesty International to press the case for an end to torture in Iran’s prisons.
CODIR has published Iran Today, its quarterly journal, since 1981, explaining the latest developments in Iran and the most effective way that the British public opinion could demonstrate its solidarity with the people of Iran.
In recent years CODIR has worked closely with Stop the War Coalition and has been vocal against any form of foreign intervention in the internal affairs of the nation.
Amongst CODIR’s affiliates are UNISON, NUT, FBU and RMT and 100’s of trade union local and regional organisations, Trades Union Councils.

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