2011-05-23 Iran launches Human Rights News Agency to report violations by the west, not to be confused with Human Rights Activists News Agency which reports violations by Iran

Mohammad Karim Abedi, a member of the Iranian Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, announced last week that Iran will launch an English news group, The Human Rights News Agency, to publicize human rights violations in the west. Today, Chairwoman of the Human Rights Committee of the Parliament (Majlis) Zohreh Elahian told Fars News Agency, that human rights violations from countries such as the United States and Britain are grave. She called on Iranian NGO’s to increase publicity around these violations.

On May 13 Amnesty International published a report on the United States, which summarized:“Forty-six people were executed during the year, and reports of excessive use of force and cruel prison conditions continued. Scores of men remained in indefinite military detention in Guantánamo as President Obama’s one-year deadline for closure of the facility there came and went. Military commission proceedings were conducted in a handful of cases, and the only Guantánamo detainee so far transferred to the US mainland for prosecution in a federal court was tried and convicted. Hundreds of people remained held in US military custody in the US detention facility on the Bagram airbase in Afghanistan. The US authorities blocked efforts to secure accountability and remedy for crimes under international law committed against detainees previously subjected to the USA’s secret detention and rendition programme.”

Amnesty expressed concern at the “Impunity” granted criminals in the US, pointing out“There continued to be an absence of accountability and remedy for the human rights violations, including the crimes under international law of torture and enforced disappearance, committed as part of the USA’s programme of secret detention and rendition.”

The report on the United Kingdom is summarized: “An inquiry into allegations of UK involvement in torture and other human rights violations of people held overseas was announced. Key counter-terrorism powers were under review. The government continued to rely on diplomatic assurances in its attempts to return individuals to countries where torture is practised. Allegations of human rights abuses by UK soldiers in Iraq continued to emerge. The Bloody Sunday Inquiry concluded that the deaths and injuries caused by British soldiers that day were unjustified. Forced returns to Baghdad continued.”

While the Amnesty reports on every country deserve close scrutiny, it is quickly obvious that the reports on the United States and the United Kingdom justify the need for one or many news organizations devoted to detailing their human rights abuses. Presumably, the Human Rights News Agency is not to be confused with the Human Rights Activists News Agency, established in 2009 to “report and disseminate daily news of human rights violations in Iran.”

Iran’s own Amnesty report is summarized: “The authorities maintained severe restrictions on freedom of expression, association and assembly. Sweeping controls on domestic and international media aimed at reducing Iranians’ contact with the outside world were imposed. Individuals and groups risked arrest, torture and imprisonment if perceived as co-operating with human rights and foreign-based Persian-language media organizations. Political dissidents, women’s and minority rights activists and other human rights defenders, lawyers, journalists and students were rounded up in mass and other arrests and hundreds were imprisoned. Torture and other ill-treatment of detainees were routine and committed with impunity. Women continued to face discrimination under the law and in practice. The authorities acknowledged 252 executions, but there were credible reports of more than 300 other executions. The true total could be even higher. At least one juvenile offender was executed. Sentences of death by stoning continued to be passed, but no stonings were known to have been carried out. Floggings and an increased number of amputations were carried out.”

US news site Mother Jones commented, “Thanks to its focus on the West, the news agency can conveniently ignore the situation back home.” This is true. And vice versa.

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