Human Rights in Iran

I have done some work recently on Human Rights in Iran — I have a picture taken with a prominent Canadian-Iranian human rights activist on my home page at  My activities seem to have come to the attention of the Iranian government, and a Counsellor from their Embassy, Mohammad Safaei, has just been to see me.
I felt rather sorry for him, because his task was to defend the indefensible, and to his credit, he did his best.  In particular, he offered to forward my comments to his government, and if he does that, perhaps it will have been time well spent.
I made several points:
Iran is not a democracy.  They go through the motions of an electoral process, but they pre-screen candidates to eliminate dissenters.  It is, in reality, a mediaeval theocratic state.
I understand that there is a substantial middle class in Iran who would favour a more liberal régime and more engagement with the West (and indeed with the world).  These people want to rejoin the 21st century.  Iran is potentially a rich country.  It has an amazing culture, millennia old.  It has oil.  The people could be free and prosperous, but they are held back by their authoritarian government.  There is no outlet for dissent.
I particularly focussed on the appalling human rights record, and the aggressive suppression of dissenters.  The shameful murder last year of a beautiful young woman, Neda Agha-Soltan, on the streets of Tehran made headlines around the world, but it is merely the tip of the iceberg.  Systematic repression of opposition is a commonplace or Iranian life.
And finally, of course, there is the Iranian nuclear programme.  I said that I knew it was  Mr. Safaei’s job to deny that Iran was building a bomb, but that in my view it was doing so.  That further alienated Iran from the world community.  Indeed I said there were worrying comparisons with North Korea (although to his credit, Mr. Safaei was more prepared to listen and engage than North Korean diplomats).
I urged Iran to embrace freedom, democracy and prosperity, and to take its rightful place in the modern world.  I just hope someone in Tehran is listening.

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