UN Special Rapporteur Hopes New President Will Allow Visits, Officials Reticent
In an August 24 interview with the BBC Persian Service, UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Iran Ahmed Shaheed said that he had written two letters to Hassan Rouhani requesting approval of his travel plans to Iran. Expressing his happiness with the election of President Rouhani, Shaheed told the BBC that he wrote his first letter to Rouhani after his victory in the election in June, and the next letter after his official inauguration in August, and that he was hopeful that he would finally be allowed to travel to Iran. However, a few days after the interview, Sadegh Amoli Larijani, Head of the Iranian Judiciary, said that the Special Rapporteur’s happiness with the Iranian election was “of no value.”
During an August 28 visit with a group of Judiciary officials, referring to Shaheed’s recent letter to Rouhani, Larijani said, “Of course all of us are happy with the recent election, but the happiness of the Special Rapporteur for Human Right’s happiness is of no value, because our religious values and the basis of our the Constitution, and the legal and judicial laws of our Islamic system will not change with the coming and going of a president.”
The reactions continued with Seyed Abbas Araghchi, spokesman of the Iranian Foreign Ministry, who said Ahmed Shaheed was not “fair.” “Unfortunately, we do not consider Mr. Ahmed Shaheed to be a fair Rapporteur. In his past reports, he did not observe impartiality,” he said.
Referring to Rouhani’s office’s receipt of Shaheed’s letters during his weekly press conference on Tuesday, August 5, Araghchi said, “I am sorry that he appeared more like an opposition, and he took actions that were beyond his duties as a United Nations Rapporteur. It is not at all comprehensible and acceptable to us that he is meeting with some individuals outside the framework of his duties, conducts interviews in some places, and appears in gatherings that are not related to his responsibilities.”
The spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry, who implicitly rejected Shaheed’s request, said, “Anyhow, so long as he does not stop this unfair trend, naturally, there are no grounds for his visit to Iran.”
Furthermore, Mohammad Javad Larijani, the Secretary of the Iranian Judiciary’s Human Rights Council, called Ahmed Shaheed “a propaganda actor,” and said on the sidelines of the farewell-introduction ceremony of the Head of Iran’s Inspector General Office on Tuesday, August 27, “The United Nations Special Rapporteur goes from one news media to another more like a propaganda actor against the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
Mohammad Javad Larijani, who has been opposed to Ahmed Shaheed’s visit to Iran ever since Ahmadinejad’s presidency, said, “We have no problem with reporting, but Mr. Rapporteur has put down all the professional norms of a rapporteur and asserts nonsense and unwarranted accusations as a propagandist actor against the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
In his interview with BBC Persian Service about his two letters to the new president of Iran, Shaheed said, “I was not expecting an answer to the first letter, because he was not the president yet. It is also too early to get an answer for the second letter, but considering all the present indications, I have this feeling that in next few months we will be witnessing more cooperation from the Iranian officials.” Even though three Iranian officials have reacted to his remarks so far, and have implicitly rejected his request, the president’s office, where his letters were sent, has not yet issued an official response to his request.
Ahmed Shaheed was appointed the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran in 2011. He has written several reports on the situation of human rights in Iran since his appointment and has repeatedly asked Iranian officials to allow him to visit Iran.