LibLink: Mark Williams on happiness, which is still ground for punishment in Iran


Mark Williams has written an article for The Hill, the Washington based news source. Under the eye-catching headline “Happiness is still ground for punishment in Iran” Mark writes:

A couple of years ago, Western audiences were noticeably shocked at the news that several Iranian youths had been arrested for the “crime” of dancing together and posting a video of themselves celebrating life to the strains of an American pop song called “Happy.” It was one in a long series of vivid reminders of repression in Iran. But unfortunately it was one of only a few that have gained significant traction in the Western media. It left the European and American public with the right idea about the Islamic Republic, but also with a potentially incomplete picture of how serious and how pervasive the problem is.

He explains that the incident took place soon after the reportedly moderate Hassan Rouhani had taken over as President, and there was hope that things would change under his leadership.  But hopes were dashed.

Now, three years into Rouhani’s presidency, it is abundantly clear that the “Happy” arrests were not an aberration, much less the last gasp for repression in Iran. They were part of a pattern that has been ongoing or intensifying in the midst of what many Western policy makers rushed to describe a trend toward moderation. At the end of May, Western observers were shocked once again by an incident that closely paralleled the “Happy” arrests.

The recent incident involved approximately 35 youths who were arrested for attending a mixed-gender graduation party. Within the space of 24 hours, each one of these arrestees was detained, tried, sentenced, and punished with 99 lashes. The message is clear: three years after Rouhani took office and two years after he declared that Iranians shouldn’t be punished too severely for expressing joy, it is still the case that acting in a spirit of freedom is illegal in the Islamic Republic of Iran, and will be met with violence.

He calls on the West to pay attention to human rights in Iran and offer support to its people. You can read the full article here.

* Mary Reid is a contributing editor on Lib Dem Voice. She was a councillor in Kingston upon Thames, where she is still very active with the local party, and is the Hon President of Kingston Lib Dems.

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  • Floating voter 20th Jun '16 - 5:57pm

    Good article. Important for British MPs to show up Irans rulers for what they are. Israel is the only Middle Eastern country with a decent Government

  • The President of Iran is not the Head of State but subsidiary to the Supreme Leader who is an arch conservative. The article may be making a mistake in implying Rouhani has any ability to make any progress in the area of human rights. Aside from floggings, Iran also executes more people than any other country except China. However, one should be very careful about what one wishes for in the Middle East. The West has a pretty consistent record of making really bad situations far worse by destabilising cruel and tyrannical dictatorships that were nevertheless reasonably stabilising.

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