As negotiations between the P5+1 countries and Iran continue, human rights concerns under the Iranian regime remain on the periphery.
The Obama Administration, over the objections of countless human rights organizations, has made clear that the United States is not seeking to alter the nature of the Iranian regime. Rather, the aim of the direct negotiations is solely to reach an agreeable compromise over the Iran's continued nuclear enrichment. The current nominal deadline for negotiations is June 30.
The Islamic Republic of Iran is notoriously the world's largest state sponsor of terrorism. Proxy organizations include Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in the Gaza Strip and Houthi rebels in Yemen. The regime's support of barbarism is reflected within Iran as well, as Iranian leaders support unspeakable human rights abuses on a daily basis.
With the deadline for negotiations only days away, June 2015 has been no exception.
According to a June 17 press release from the organization Iran Human Rights, which "supports the Iranian people's struggle for human rights and amplifies their voices on the international stage," the Iranian regime has executed a prisoner every two hours this month:
"According to reports collected by IHR so far in June at least 206 people have been executed in different Iranian cities. 60 of the executions have been announced by the official sources while IHR has managed to confirm 146 other executions which have not been announced by the authorities."
"So far in 2015 more than 560 people have been executed in the country and we are just in the first half of the year," Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, the spokesman of IHR, said in an interview. "This is unprecedented in the last 25 years! Unfortunately, people in Iran feel that the international community has closed its eyes on what they are going through."
The executions are just the tip of the crane. As IHR reported Wednesday morning, Mohammed Moghimi, a defense lawyer for civil activist Atena Faraghadani, was scheduled to be released from prison on June 16, after three days in prison. What, exactly, was his crime?
"Mohammad Moghimi was charged with 'non-adultery illegitimate relations' for shaking hands with his female client," writes IHR. "He had gone to Evin Prison to meet Ms. Faraghadani and to prepare an appeal request for her 12-year prison sentence." According to IHR sources, the forbidden handshake "happened in the presence of two agents in the room. Atena apologized for this right there... but the agents didn't let it go and took her back to her prison ward and arrested Mr. Moghimi right there."
Moghimi release was released on condition that he meet a bail of roughly $60,000.
And why is Faraghadani in prison? For Facebook posts. A Revolutionary Court in Tehran sentenced her to 12 years and 9 months in prison for posts against the government, which constituted "assembly and collusion against national security," "propaganda against the state," and "insulting the Supreme Leader, the President, Members of the Parliament, and the IRGC [Revolutionary Guards] Ward 2-A agents, " according to IHR.
"What we are witnessing in Iran today is not much different from what ISIS is doing," argues Amiry-Moghaddam. "The difference is that the Iranian authorities do it in a more controlled manner, and represent a country which is a full member of the international community with good diplomatic relations with the West."
Now the West, with the possibility of a nuclear deal, stands to increase Iran's diplomatic standing -- and with not even a minimal regard for human rights.
While U.S. negotiators shake hands with Iranian diplomats during the next round of talks in Geneva, Iranian citizens cannot shake hands among themselves without fear of years of imprisonment. While officials, both from the West and from Iran, share updates on social media, Iranians at home face jail time for staking out the wrong position in Facebook posts.
Does Iran's foreign minister risk going to jail? Iranian FM Javad Zarif (right) is apparently touching the arm of EU Foreign Affairs representative Federica Mogherini (second from right). Back in Tehran, the lawyer Mohammad Moghimi (inset top) was arrested and charged with "non-adultery illegitimate relations," for shaking hands with his female client, Atena Faraghadani (inset bottom). Faraghadani was sentenced to 12 years and 9 months in prison, for Facebook posts critical of the regime.
If the Iranian regime cannot trust its own citizens' handshakes, how can the West trust the Iranian regime with uranium centrifuges?
Daniel Mael is a fellow at the Salomon Center.