Last month the world turned its attention to Iran for its seemingly arbitrary transfer of a detained British-Australian academic. Kylie Moore-Gilbert, who was detained in September 2018 and is serving a ten-year sentence, was moved from the notorious Evin Prison to an unspecified
location. When Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) released the report, nearly every major media publication across the globe once again jumped to denounce her detention.Widespread speculation as to Moore-Gilbert’s whereabouts ensued.
As a human rights professional who focuses on Iran, it was gratifying to see such a swift and appropriate response. However, what about the countless grave and horrific human rightsviolations that happen every day in this country? Violations that are so numerous that they have become seemingly rote.
In the week following Moore-Gilbert’s transfer, peaceful protestors outside Iran’s Ministry of Petroleum were violently attacked by Regime Security Forces. In the month of October, at least 130 Iranians were arrested for activities related to their political or ideological beliefs; 83 of which involved the detention of individuals participating in peaceful gatherings related to the ongoing Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict.
Iran carried out 19 hangings in the month of October alone, sentencing an additional 8 to that same fate throughout the month.
At least 12 members of the Baháʼí religious minority were barred from entering university based solely on their religious beliefs. One man received 80 lashes for converting to Christianity; a thief was sentenced to having his hand amputated.
Iranian courts tried more than 70 political cases which resulted in convictions that totaled 295 years in prison and 2,590 lashes. A cleric was summoned to court for suggesting there was no problem with women riding a bicycle, an activity for which all women in the country are banned.
Two women, who wrote a letter requesting the resignation of the Supreme Leader, were each sentenced to 33 years in prison. A teacher was sentenced to 45 lashes for drawing a cartoon.
This list is by no means exhaustive.
These violations are not a secret. HRANA, the very source that initially reported on Moore-Gilbert’s move, reported and continues to report on the numerous human rights violations happening daily in Iran against Iranians, as well as dual and foreign nationals. There remains
little to no response.
Why is this?
I do not have the answer to that question, but I do know the differences these cases bear. The violations listed above are against Iranian citizens; Moore-Gilbert is a foreigner. Her case is, therefore, more appealing to the press it garners a more widespread response – and outcry.
I’m reminded of a quote from Howard Bakerville, a young American who famously became a martyr of Iran’s Constitutional Revolution; he once said, “The only difference between me and these people is my place of birth, and that is not a big difference.” Today I fear there are times, unacceptably so, that this is the difference between life and death, between respect for rights and deprivation thereof. Will the world only shine the light on Iran when a Westerner is tangled in its web? Under international human rights law, States have a duty to respect, protect, and fulfill the rights of those within their jurisdiction. It’s time that Iran be held accountable to its own citizens just as it is to those dual and foreign nationals that find themselves trapped within the confines of a state where deprivation of fundamental human rights continues to be the norm.
Moore-Gilbert has since been returned to Evin Prison. Her return, much like her move, was documented extensively. The reason for her move remains unknown
Skylar Thompson is a Senior Advocacy Coordinator with Human Rights Activists in Iran (HRAI). For inquiries please
contact email: [email protected]