An exclusive interview with Mrs. Jutta Koebernick, a Germany based Human Rights activist for democracy, for freedom of speech everywhere and freedom for all prisoners of conscience.
How do you see the human rights situation in Iran? Do you think that after the presidency of Hassan Rohani, any change has been made in this field (due to increasing rate of executions and arrests)?
I am extremely concerned about the human rights’ situation in Iran. After the horrible end of the peaceful protests, so called “Green Wave” in 2009 and the terrifying government of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad there was so much hope for the election in 2013. Western politicians, NGOs and many human rights activists believed in Rohani’s promises to change the human rights situation to the better. But except for releases of some well-known human rights defenders, the situation became even worse: the rate of executions has increased dramatically since Rohani’s inauguration, people get arrested for nothing, for example as simply as for singing a song on YouTube. Just a few days ago a former human rights and student activist who had already spent years in prison was arrested again without being given any reason. It’s a cruel, criminal and arbitrary system and nobody can really feel safe.
What is the opinion of the international community and human rights organizations about human rights violations in Iran? Are they still hopeful about his not-implemented promises?
No, as far as I am informed nobody, no NGO is still hopeful that Rohani is going to fulfill his promises concerning the human rights. So far we heard only rhetorical pledges by Mr. Rohani – positive deeds should have followed but didn’t.
Politicians are concentrated on the nuclear talks – not on human rights, at least many of them.
A sharp rise in arrests, prosecutions and imprisonment of independent journalists in Iran signals the authorities’ utter determination to crush hopes for increased freedom heralded by the election of President Hassan Rouhani.“ (Amnesty International Press Release Aug 1, 2014)
But not only journalists are in constant danger of being incarcerated, Students and academics are routinely harassed, detained or barred from studying or teaching because of peaceful activism, views or beliefs. Religious and ethnic minorities are in incessant danger.
The recent introduction of new gender segregation initiatives will limit the role of women in public employment and will deeply affect their earning potentials and families’ livelihoods.
A great number of Iranian people as well as human rights and political activists think that western countries, despite of their claims, are not calling for the overthrow of the Islamic Republic; due to their economic interests(benefits) in the Middle East. Do you agree with this opinion?
Honestly, I can understand the Iranians. Sanctions didn’t impress the regime at all – they only made daily life for the people even harder. And what else came from western governments? Their economic interests in the Middle East indeed have priority – but don’t mix up politics and western NGOs or similar organizations which are fighting for human rights – those are very much and very loudly calling for the overthrow of the Islamic regime .
What solutions do you suggest as a human rights activist, to put an end to human rights violations in countries like Iran?
This is quite hard to answer. I think the change can only come from inside the country, from the people themselves. We can inform about the devastating situation, we can show our solidarity and be their voice as long as they are not able to get in contact with the world, we can demand that politicians discuss the human rights situation in Iran openly and on every occasion – but I wouldn’t recommend any violence or aggression from outside to push things. We have enough examples where western countries tried to bring democracy – with weapons – and it didn’t work out at all. The people have to be ready for overthrowing the regime, they have to be solidly united.
And eventually, do you think that fake actions of western countries with the leadership of US under the name of "humanitarian intervention" has improved the situation and was successful in establishing safety and democracy in the region, or not?
No, neither in Afghanistan nor in Iraq has there been any improvement, nor are there many other examples where “humanitarian intervention” of western countries didn’t bring any safety, much less democracy.