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April 20, 2018 3:39 pm

State Department Annual Human Rights Survey Highlights Iranian Regime’s Abuses at Home and Abroad

avatar by Ben Cohen

Gen. Qassem Soleimani (center), commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s IRGC, with Shia militias in Syria. Photo: ABN News Agency.

The Iranian regime continues to commit grave human rights violations not just at home, but also — in concert with its allies and proxies — across the region, the annual US State Department human rights review of 199 countries warned on Friday.

Iran “materially contributed to human rights abuses in Syria, through its military support for Syrian president Bashar al-Assad and for Hezbollah forces there, as well as in Iraq, through its aid to certain Iraqi Shia militia groups,” observed the State Department’s survey of human rights practices around the world in 2017.

The report also questioned the integrity of Iran’s presidential election last May, which resulted in President Hassan Rouhani — widely touted in the West as a moderate, and one of the architects of the 2015 nuclear deal — winning a second term in office.

“The unelected Guardian Council vets candidates and controls the election process,” the report stated. “Candidate vetting allowed six presidential candidates to run out of 1,636 individuals who registered for the race.”

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The report noted that “restrictions on media, including censoring campaign materials and preventing prominent opposition figures from speaking publicly” had “limited the freedom and fairness” of Iran’s presidential election.

Iran’s feared Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) — whose Quds Force has spearheaded Iranian military interventions in Syria, Iraq and Yemen — was cited by the report for its involvement in “the cruel and prolonged torture of political opponents of the government.”

The report also highlighted the existence of “numerous companies and subsidiaries affiliated with the IRGC engaged in trade and business activities, sometimes illicitly, including in the telecommunications, mining, and construction sectors.”

With the publication of the report on Friday, Acting Secretary of State John Sullivan said that the “Iranian people continue to suffer at the hands of their leaders.”

“The right of peaceful assembly and freedoms of association and expression are the legitimate expectation of all individuals worldwide,” Sullivan said. “Unfortunately for the Iranian people, these human rights are under attack almost daily.”

Sullivan also underlined the extraordinary suffering of civilians in Syria. “A week ago, the President took action, together with our French and British allies, to deter the use of chemical weapons and protect the human rights of Syrian civilians,” he said. Sullivan also pointed to the escalating human rights emergencies outside the Middle East, including Russia, North Korea and Venezuela.

Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN, said in a statement on Friday that the US would “continue to call out the world’s worst human rights violators, such as Iran, China, Syria, Venezuela, and North Korea.”

“The release of the report warns abusive governments that the United States is watching them, and it reminds the victims of human rights violations that we will continue to stand with them,” Haley declared.

In its section on the Palestinian Authority, the report noted that “significant human rights issues included Palestinian terror attacks against Israeli civilians and security forces in the West Bank and Jerusalem, which killed 13 Israelis.”

The report added that “some Palestinians and Muslim religious leaders used antisemitic rhetoric and engaged in Holocaust denial.”

“In Gaza and the West Bank, there were instances in which media outlets, particularly outlets controlled by Hamas, published and broadcast material that included antisemitic content, sometimes amounting to incitement to violence,” the report stated.

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