By Connor J. Wangler
This past week the P5+1 group of nations met with Iranian officials in Geneva, Switzerland to discuss the issue of Iran’s nuclear aspirations. The P5+1 group consists of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (US, UK, France, China, Russia) plus Germany. These nations represent many of the leading world powers and the most powerful body in the United Nations, the Security Council. According to the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Germany is included in these talks due to its role as a valuable trading partner with Iran. The talks are a result of the renewed mission to solve Iran’s foreign relations problems taken on by President Rouhani, who recently spoke of addressing global concerns with his country in front of the United Nations General Assembly. This has been meet with positivity, although cautious positivity, by many world leaders.
According to the Tehran Times, one of the main hopes of the Iranians for these negotiations is the eventual lifting on economic sanctions placed on Iran. If lifted, Iranians will be able to live with more comfortable economic conditions; this includes greater access to limited medicine and humanitarian goods. This, Iranians hope, will invigorate the country’s general economic growth which has been stymied since sanctions were put in place. These hopes have been elevated with the news that the US delegation to the talks will include Adam Szubin, the director of the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Asset Control and the US government’s foremost expert on Iranian sanctions.
As fruitful as the negotiations have been in redefining the tone of the conversation between the West and Iran, many western leaders remain cautious of giving the new Iranian regime too much positive feedback. According to White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, the “onus remains on Iran to come into compliance with its international obligations.” Leaders have noted the still-foggy image of the true purposes of Iran’s nuclear program and the Islamic Republic’s numerous human rights violations as reasons for not “jumping for joy” over this new approach by Iranian officials.
One such violation of human rights that has been prevalent in international groups’ protests of the negotiations is the use of capital punishment in Iran. The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran reports that 402 individuals have been executed in Iran in 2013, 53 of them in public. A recent report by CNN quotes the official newspaper Jaam-e Jam in Iran in detailing the recent attempted execution of a man at the Bojnurd Prison. According to the story the man was hung until “dead” and brought to the local morgue for the body to be collected by family; there a morgue worker noticed the man was still breathing. Unfortunately, Iranian law demands that the sentence be carried out and that the man will still be executed. An official for Amnesty International heard the report and said, “The horrific prospect of this man facing a second hanging, after having gone through the whole ordeal already once, merely underlines the cruelty and inhumanity of the death penalty.” Many groups want to see Iran address these violations of human rights before the West eases sanctions.