Don't take human rights lessons from Iran and Saudi Arabia – by Qudsia Siddiqui

by admin

This is in reference toKill the sectarian killers: Will Pakistan follow the Iranian example?” published by a fellow editor, Sarah Khan, on December 20, 2010.  In her post, Sarah was giving the example of how Iran executed 11 members of Jundullah in response to the horrific suicide bombing that killed 39 Shia mourners and wounded another 100 in Chabahar, Iran.

While I am completely opposed to the State sponsored militias that have killed thousands of Pakistanis, I don’t think we should be following the Iranian example in this particular instance. That being said, Sarah Khan is spot on in her assessment:

“the ISI is known for its support to jihadi-sectarian groups and the judiciary remains infested with the pro-Jamaat-e-Islami (pro-Taliban) judges.”

While our media is infested with jihadi sympathizers like Hamid Mir, Shahid Masood, Ansar Abbasi, Javed Chaudhry etc and our judiciary is increasingly being viewed as a B-Team for the jihadis, Iran has a pathetic human rights record for its treatment of all those who are against the hardliners and the theocrats whose victims include women, minorities, Bahais, Baluchis, Kurds, secular Shias (the vast majority of the population) and all the senior Ayatullahs who do not agree with the theocratic construct of Vilayat-e-Faqih.

In this regard, the Balochs and Kurds are persecuted in Iran on the basis of ethnicity and not sect and those who were executed in Chabahar were arrested before the horrible and equally condemnable suicide bombing of Shias.  The sequence of events that is being played out in Iran and Pakistan with regard to the Baloch is a dirty game that seeks to delegitimize the nationalist aspirations of the Baloch.

Since the annexation and division of the former State of Qalat by Pakistan and Iran, the Balochs have maintained their genuine nationalist concerns that range from provincial autonomy and a dignified existence to full independence from both countries.

In Pakistan, they have faced several military actions and the last one is still ongoing even if it does not have the attention of our chic urban types. Of course, we all know how the judiciary has backtracked on the issue of missing persons that include thousands of illegally detained Baloch youth along with a dozen or less shadowy Islamist types; the latter 2-3 like Aafia Siddiqi and Masood Janjua are the only ones that matter to the consciousness of our Jamaat-e-Islami influenced urban types.

In order to delegitimize the Baloch struggle, our establishment has, in typical fashion, added a toxic blend of sectarian fanaticism to the mix. It has continued the laboratory experiment that it started in District Jhang and used the same formula to create the Jundullah: a Wahabi/Deobandi militia comprised of a few brainwashed Baloch youth.  This allows the establishment to kill two birds with one stone. On the one hand, the Jundullah have been indoctrinated with a virulent anti-Shia ideology that makes them the perfect foot soldiers to kill Shias in Pakistan and Iran. Furthermore, their fanatical acts of violence also damage the Baloch nationalist struggle.

The Baloch struggle is secular in nature and rooted in a rich and diverse cultural tradition. Until the Saudi-financed and establishment facilitated radicalization of some Baloch children, the Zikri (a mystical Sufi sect) school of thought formed the cornerstone of Baloch religious sentiment.  The radicalization and subsequent acts of senseless violence by Jundullah allows the establishment to malign and de-legitimize the largely nationalist Baloch struggle.  This is a tactic that is similar to the one used to drown out the moderate and nationalist sentiment in Kashmir and replace it with sectarian Jihadis from Punjab.

In prosecuting our jihadi sectarian murderers, we should never be emulating Iran.  In this regard, the aims of those who want a just and peaceful society are up against an Islamofascist judiciary that clearly has the interests of jihadis like Hafiz Saeed, Mullah Abdul Aziz, Masood Azhar and sectarian murderers like Malik Ishaq of Sipah-e-Sahaba and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi. That this judiciary is entrenched and dictating its regressive agenda to elected representatives of Pakistan should be a lesson to those who supported the movement to restore compromised and shadowy bureaucrats; those who have a solid tradition of backing military coups and committing judicial murder.

While the Taliban have been given a free hand to slaughter Pushtuns, Shias, Ahmadis and Barelvis and while their affiliates such as Jamaat-e-Islami and Sipah-e-Sahaba are allowed to lynch Christains, our “educated” bourgeoisie and elites are continuing to live in denial and the la-la land of conspiracy theory.  They lack the moral and intellectual clarity to admit that an increasing number of fellow Muslims (extremist Deobandis and Wahhabis) are committing violence on Pakistan’s diverse ethnic, sectarian and religious minority groups.  They have a tendency to continually blame Jews, Hindus and Blackwater, even as the various jihadi groups proudly own up to the latest act of terrorism.  In this they are abetted by a media that mostly takes its cues from the establishment and therefore completely dishonest.

We need no cues from Iran or Saudi Arabia to bring murderers to justice. What we need is support for democracy and the will to protest and call out the proxies of the establishment which are the judiciary and the media – the Teen Jeem coalition!

22 Comments to “Don't take human rights lessons from Iran and Saudi Arabia – by Qudsia Siddiqui”

  1. It is a very well written article, Qudsia. Thanks for your balanced take on this difficult topic.

  2. Yea, we should follow international human rights standards and the United nation’s recommendations and treaties. If you ask [pakistani]young generation, where do you want to go Iran/Saudi Arabia/China or USA/Europe, simply the response’ll be US/Europe, because in USA, there is a great respect for human rights and dignity. And secondly we keep pressurizing our unrepresentative institutions[Military, Judiciary and Media]that they’ll separate them self from radical forces and act against extremism.

  3. “Jamhoriat’ka safar bada Tawal aur thaka dene wala hota hae,
    Humein Temper lose nahin kerna chaheye..Ye shikasat ka nahin ye fatah ka raang hae…

  4. We can’t eliminate or control extremism, until or unless our judiciary prosecute terror suspects and all those forces who challenge “writ of the state”. As well as All representative forces should acknowledge importance and supremacy of the people’s representative institutions and security forces must obey civilian govt’s order.

  5. Iraq: Christian IDPs find refuge in Kurdish north

    Hundreds of Iraqi Christians are fleeing to the northern semi-autonomous Kurdish region and particularly the town of Ankawa, which has become a safe haven for the country’s Christians, thanks to its special status and privileges granted by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).

    Ankawa, near Erbil, KRG’s capital, has a predominantly Christian population and administration, several churches and distinct Assyrian language.

    Melissa Fleming, chief spokeswoman for the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), said on 17 December that UNHCR offices in Iraq had seen a significant increase in Christians fleeing Baghdad and Mosul to the KRG Region and Nineveh plains in the north.

    Fleming said the Christian communities in the two cities had started a “slow but steady exodus” since a deadly attack on 31 October, when 68 people were killed during the storming of Our Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad during Sunday Mass.

    Some 1,000 families have arrived in the Kurdistan region and Ninewa since the beginning of November, according to UNHCR. “We have heard many accounts of people fleeing their homes after receiving direct threats. Some were able to take only a few belongings with them,” Fleming said.

    “Bagdad has too many evils,” Jabir Hikmet Al Sammak, a Christian, said last week in Ankawa at the funeral of his 78-year-old father and 76-year-old mother. They had both been beheaded in their Baghdad home by extremists.

    “It’s a city of guns,” said Al Sammak.

    Al Sammak and many other Christian IDPs are now homeless and jobless, living either with their relatives or in rented houses they can hardly afford in Ankawa.

    Safe havens

    Many areas in the north have been safe havens for religious minorities fleeing violence elsewhere in Iraq, and Erbil is no exception, says the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

    According to IOM, there are 6,879 IDP families (about 41,274 individuals) in Erbil governorate and almost a quarter are estimated to be Christians. Initial assessments by IOM staff in Iraq suggest that more Christian families will be arriving in Erbil as soon as they are able to leave their homes and jobs.

    “We just came here for security,” said Naji Behnan, 57, a church security guard in Ankawa, who earns 240,000 Iraqi dinars (approximately US$200) a month, but has to pay $300 rent per month for a house in which his and his son’s families live. He came to Ankawa less than two months ago.

    Behnan said the two families of six people lived on the money from selling his house and property in Baghdad’s Jadid neighbourhood.

    “My two sons, who are university graduates, have no jobs,” he said. “In Baghdad they were church security guards just like I am here.”

    IOM’s report said access to work was cited as a priority need for 83 percent of IDP families in Erbil.

    These people only possess a few items, such as blankets, plastic sheeting and kitchen utensils, as well as some subsistence food donated by international aid organizations, such as UNHCR, IOM and the International Churches of Christ, according to Helene Caux, UNHCR’s senior external relations officer in Erbil.

    There is criticism that despite pledges over the past two months, neither the Iraqi central government nor KRG has done enough to tackle the plight of Christian IDPs.

    More promises

    Earlier this month, Massoud Barzani, Kurdistan’s president, reiterated his promises to do whatever was possible for Christians coming to Kurdistan, saying leaving Iraq was no solution.

    Nawzad Hadi, Erbil’s governor, told IRIN that Barzani had created a special committee to look into the needs of displaced Christians and provide them with aid.

    “Kurdistan is their home,” said Hadi. “As an ethnic minority which suffered in the past, we Kurds can feel the suffering of Christians very well.”

    However, a Christian official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the Kurdish authorities had told Kurdistan Christians that it was the duty of the Iraqi government, rather than the KRG, to aid the IDPs.

    Meanwhile, Christians keep leaving Baghdad, according to the UNHCR’s Caux. “The Christian authorities say there are only 150,000 Christians left in Baghdad; one-third of them could be ready to leave,” said Caux, pointing to an increase in the migration of Christians abroad since Baghdad’s church attack.

    Since then, 30 percent of new Iraqi arrivals in Jordan have been Christians, and in Lebanon and Syria, 167 and 55 Iraqi Christian families respectively have approached UNHCR to be registered as refugees, said Caux.

  6. I too like the article.

    However, it is helpful to break certain stereotypes.


    Iran’s proud but discreet Jews
    By Frances Harrison
    BBC News, Tehran

    The Jewish presence dates back nearly 3,000 years.
    Although Iran and Israel are bitter enemies, few know that Iran is home to the largest number of Jews anywhere in the Middle East outside Israel.

    About 25,000 Jews live in Iran and most are determined to remain no matter what the pressures – as proud of their Iranian culture as of their Jewish roots.

    It is dawn in the Yusufabad synagogue in Tehran and Iranian Jews bring out the Torah and read the ancient text before making their way to work.

    It is not a sight you would expect in a revolutionary Islamic state, but there are synagogues dotted all over Iran where Jews discreetly practise their religion.

    “Because of our long history here we are tolerated,” says Jewish community leader Unees Hammami, who organised the prayers.

    He says the father of Iran’s revolution, Imam Khomeini, recognised Jews as a religious minority that should be protected.

    As a result Jews have one representative in the Iranian parliament.

    “Imam Khomeini made a distinction between Jews and Zionists and he supported us,” says Mr Hammami.

  7. A feminist perspective on human rights violations in the USA

  8. Excellent article !!!!

  9. Well, mediation with such a thought provoking and bold peace. It’s what I loved about LUBP,

  10. Spot on, I was thinking of writing the same. I was appalled to see the Kill the Sectarian Killers articles.

    We do not follow Iran because we are not barbarians, and despite jamati judges or otherwise we cannot allow vengeance to over rule sanity.

    @ Sarah Khan: If a jew converts to Islam and his children or wife don’t according to Iranian law the non-muslim heirs lose their right to inheritance. The jewish population is similar to the Parsi population in Pakistan, they are too insignificant to be bothered but that doesn’t mean that they do not have built in mechanisms in system to inconvenience them.

    And how would we ever know for sure about Iran, there is no free press, free media or free elections?

  11. @Saad: I don’t have anything to offer in defence of theocratic laws in Iran. I don’t support theocracy.

    My only point was that in this era of rampant anti-Semitism, Iran has managed to retain the largest number of Jews in the Middle East outside Israel. Due credit must be given to them for that. We all must attempt to think beyond certain stereotypes which media has built around us.

    There is evidence of Jewish persecution and consequent emigration from other countries in the region. For example, census data does not identify any Jewish persons as residing within Saudi Arabian territory. That must not be less than a miracle! Similar examples of anti-Semitism are evident in other Arab countries.

    Also, it is a fact that Pakistan’s treatment of its own minorities is not enviable by any standards. Our constitutional, legal and social oppression of Ahmadis is a matter of great shame. As a result, a large number of our Ahmadi citizens have been forced to flee Pakistan.

    Speak to an Ahmadi, s/he will explain to you more fully whether the state of Pakistan’s treatment towards them is less than barbaric or otherwise!

  12. The thing is that this is a typical scenario where by when women rights are talked about, the clerics come up how certain women are misusing their current rights and start focusing on that rather the issue that is affecting the majority.

    So when we talk about Iran, we talk about its stated policies, in letter or in spirit. As for sectarian minorities you mentioned, its not much different there, Nauseris, Allawis and Ahmedis are declared Kaafir and persecuted. And though they don’t have Ahmedi population, they do have nauseris and alawis who are persecuted to the hilt.

    Moreover, how about the brutal oppression of the Bahai community in Iran?

    Yes it is remarkable, how Persian Jews have remained in Iran, but than Palestine versus Israel is an Arab-Israel conflict, I’m not certain why Iran or Pakistan have a problem with Israel. Obviously Israel is a gross violator of human rights and the action may be justified on the ground but than most of the muslim states, Russia and central Asian states plus our BFF China do too.
    Persian Jews have always identified themselves as Persian, the credit goes to Iran strongest sense of nationhood and the mullas have nothing to do with it.

  13. @Saad, Iran is known to be financially, morally and logistically supporting Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Palestine. Yet, you wonder what is Iran’s problem with Israel.

    Seen in that context, Jewish population in Iran seems to break a stereotype! I hope it is clear now.

    Regarding your other charges on Iran, those might be true or otherwise. I have no knowledge about them.

    However, I will unreservedly condemn any country and government which persecutes its own citizens because of their faith, sect or ethnicity.

  14. Iran and Saudi Arabia are two ‘favourite’ targets of ‘free’ Western media. As they say ‘give a dog a bad name and hang him’.

    Of course, how many of us have heard about this and similar news reports about human rights violations in progressive Muslim countries such as Malaysia.

    Malaysia May Charge 200 Muslim Shiites for Deviating From Islam

    20 December 2010

    KUALA LUMPUR: More than 200 Muslim Shiites including Iranians, Indonesians and Pakistanis detained in one of the biggest swoops on outlawed Muslim sects in Malaysia may be charged with breaching Islamic laws, an official said Monday.

    Government authorities in Muslim-majority Malaysia consider only the Sunni denomination to be legal. Sunni Islam is the world’s largest branch of the religion, followed by Shia Islam.

    Islamic officials raided a shop house in the Gombak district in central Selangor state last week and arrested the group, who were allegedly followers of the outlawed Shia sect, said Nurhamizah Othman, a public relations officer at the Selangor Islamic Religious Department.

    It was the largest swoop of outlawed groups in recent months, the department director, Muhammad Khusrin Munawi, told state media. He said the Shia doctrine is a threat to national security because it permits the killing of Muslims from other sects who are regarded as infidels.

    Nurhamizah confirmed the comments.

    Malaysia, a Southeast Asian country of 28 million people, is wary of religious sects that go against mainstream Islam, fearful that they may alter its image as a moderate Muslim nation. Malay Muslims make up about 60 percent of the population, while most of the rest are Buddhists, Hindus or Christians from the ethnic Chinese and Indian communities.

    The arrests of the Shia followers have been slammed by some religious scholars, who accused Islamic authorities of becoming more hard-lined.

    ”Malaysia is trying to become a country a la Taliban that only allows one school of thought,” said prominent Muslim scholar Asri Zainul Abidin.

    ”Even though I personally don’t agree with Shia teachings and even frequently criticize and debate with them, I cannot accept the approach of the allegedly democratic Malaysian government in denying the people’s right to practice their faith,” he said.

    Nurhamizah said the detainees have all been released on bail, except two Iranians. Most are likely to be charged in an Islamic court with following the teachings of a deviationist movement, which carries a penalty of up to two years in jail, she said.

    Among those detained were lecturers, students of higher-learning institutions, lawyers and government employees, believed to have been operating in the area for nearly two years, she said. No further details were immediately available. – AP

  15. Good job Qudsia. We have to name and shame those groups which have waged cultural, and now physical violence on Pakistan. From the poison of the Jamat-e-Islami rightward, these people are complicit in ruining Pakistan. And yes it is glaringly obvious; we should not emulate Saudi Arabia and Iran in human rights matters. We have to work democratically.

  16. A Taliban-ISI production:

    the casualties suffered by the law enforcement agencies in the 2010 suicide attacks remain 14 percent of the total deaths – 1,224. Of the remaining 436 Pakistanis killed by the human bombs this year, 151 (or 12 percent of the total killed) were Shia Muslims, 103 (or eight percent of the total casualties) were Ahmedis or Qadianis while 81 (six percent of the total killed) were Barelvi Muslims.

  17. @Sarah,

    thanks for the research. I did some follow up research and found out that Shiites were also persecuted in Morroco last year. Also, I completely agree with you that the Jihadi sectarian killers whose hands are drenched with the blood of our minorities need to be bought to task.

    @Saad, I cannot think of any muslim country with a decent HR record, although I love the recent strides by Bangladesh. They have taken on the Jamaat Islami monsters. the problem is that their current Judiciary supports democracy and secularism while ours is functioning like the Taliban B-Team. Also Saad, in Iran most of the people do not have soft corner for theocrats unlike our urban bourgeoisie fascists!

  18. Islamic sharia laws in Malaysia:

    گیارہ سالہ لڑکی کی اکتالیس سالہ شخص سے شادی ’غیر قانونی‘

    اکتالیس سالہ مسلمان شخص نے اس سال فرروری میں گیارہ سالہ لڑکی سے چوتھا عقد کیا تھا۔

    ملائشیا کی ایک عدالت نے ایک فیصلے میں گیارہ برس کی مسلمان لڑکی کی اکتالیس سالہ شخص سے شادی کو غیر قانونی قرار دے دیا ہے۔

    اسلامی عدالت کے جج نے کہا کہ بچی کے باپ کا اپنی بیٹی کی شادی کرنے کا کوئی ارادہ نہیں تھا اور یہ کہ اس شادی میں دھمکیوں اور جبر کے استعمال جیسے عناصر سامنے آئے ہیں۔

    ملائشیا میں سولہ برس سے کم عمر کی مسلمان لڑکیاں اسلامی عدالت کی اجازت سے شادی کر سکتی ہیں۔

    تاہم اس مقدمے کے باعث ملائشیا میں حقوقِ نسواں کےگروپوں نے حکومت سے مطالبہ کیا ہے کہ وہ شادی کی کم سے کم عمر بڑھا کر اٹھارہ برس کرے۔

    اکتالیس سالہ مسلمان شخص نے اس سال فرروری میں گیارہ سالہ لڑکی سے چوتھا عقد کیا تھا۔

    جج نے اپنے فیصلے میں کہا کہ اکتالیس سالہ شخص اور گیارہ سالہ لڑکی کی یہ شادی غیر قانونی ہے۔ لڑکی کی (چھوٹی) عمر کی وجہ سے نہیں بلکہ اس لیے کہ جوڑے نے اسلامی قانون کا اتباع نہیں کیا۔

    سسٹرز اِن اسلام نامی ایک تنظیم نے کہا ہے کہ ملائشیا میں بچوں کی شادیاں ہو رہی ہیں کیونکہ کہا جاتا ہے کہ جب مسلمان لڑکی سنِ بلوغ کو پہنچ جائے تو اس کا بیاہ کیا جا سکتا ہے۔

    اسی ماہ کے اوائل میں چودہ برس کی ایک لڑکی نے تئیس سال کے ایک ٹیچر سے کوالالمپور میں ایک عوامی تقریب میں شادی کی تھی۔

    BBC Urdu
    24 December 2010

  19. Iran is on the offensive when it becomes a party to a conflict that is not it’s to begin with.

    You refuse to understand my point of view, what you did was like telling me how the jamaat us dawa is involved in so many charitable activities when I’m talking about it’s evident I’m talking it’s evident involvement in terrorist activities.

    As for Malaysia, it’s not ideal but I mean seriously is Iran anywhere close to Malaysia? Iran is comfortably worse than Pakistan in terms of religious, political rights and civil liberties.

  20. @Saad

    My only point is that providing blanket certificate to a country being worthy or unworthy of emulation in human rights is both factually and intellectually lacking. (This is particularly when the blanket certificates that we so much love to issue every now and then are often shaped by a dominant Western-media narrative and our individual stereotypes.)

    For example, Iran and Saudi Arabia may be the worst countries in your assessment because of your understanding of their human rights situation. Yet, there might be certain elements within their governance system or society which might be worthy of reflection and possible emulation. (e.g., Iran’s treatment of Persian Jews, or Iran and Saudi Arabia’s resolve to arrest and punish terrorists).

    Similarly, USA or Malaysia may be better countries in your assessment because of your understanding of their human rights situation. Yet, there might be certain elements within their governance system or society which you might not like to imitate. (e.g., treatment of Blacks, Muslims etc in the USA, treatment of Shias in Malaysia)

    In the end, I thank you for putting your perspective eloquently. I too have presented my perspective, and don’t have any thing further to contribute to this debate.


    Iran poised to execute student accused of being Kurd terrorist

    A 29-year-old Iranian student activist is facing execution tomorrow unless an international campaign launched by human rights groups can persuade authorities to quash his conviction.

    Habibollah Latifi, a politically active student of civil engineering at Azad University, in the south-western province of Ilam , is scheduled to be executed in Sanandaj prison tomorrow, following what his lawyer has described as an unfair trial.

    His family is pleading with the international community to urge Iran to stop his execution.

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