NDI's former President Kenneth Wollack and Chairman Madeleine K. Albright pose with Nazanin Boniadi. Credit: Margot Schulman/ Facebook
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Nazanin Boniadi, a board of director at the Center for Human Rights in Iran, authored a piece in The Washington Post that exploits the pandemic to paint Iran as a human rights catastrophe. An examination of just one of Boniadi's claims exposes how far the U.S. and its imperialist allies will go to build the case for regime change in Iran.
Iran is once again under siege from humanitarian imperialism. The United Nations (UN) has released multiple reports in recent weeks criticizing the Iranian government for supposed human rights violations in relation to the treatment of prisoners and its lockdown procedures during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nazanin Boniadi claims that Iran's failure to maintain a humane release policy of prisoners within the country has contributed to undue suffering from COVID-19. Yet the individual she chooses to defend all but reduces her credibility to zero. Boniadi claims that several prisoners have been returned to prison prematurely, and names Samaneh Norouz Moradi as a victim of this policy. Sameneh Norouz Moradi is a leading activist in the campaign to return Prince Reza Pehlavi to Iran. Prince Reza Pehlavi is the eldest son of Mohammad Reza Pehlavi, otherwise known as the Shah of Iran. This is indeed the same monarch that butchered Iranians in the tens of thousands to ensure the country's assets remained the property of the West. In just one sentence, Nazanin Boniadi reveals that the purpose of her article and her struggle for human rights is to reinstall the U.S. and Western friendly puppet regime that once reigned over Iran.
The human rights industry offers lucrative careers for the likes of Boniadi. Boniadi is a Hollywood star and an Iranian exile with extensive experience in the human rights industry. She served as a spokesperson for Amnesty International for six years from 2009 to 2015. Her service to Amnesty International coincides with the organization's outright support for U.S.-led regime change wars. The so-called "human rights" organization defended the overthrow of Libya in 2011 and the ongoing invasion of Syria led by the U.S. and its Israeli, Gulf, and Western allies.
It is no surprise, then, that Boniadi now serves on the board of the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI), a dubious human rights organization which fails to disclose its funding sources. A cursory look at Boniadi's colleagues reveals how deeply the CHRI is embedded in the humanitarian imperialist agenda led by the United States. Chairwoman of the board Minky Worden is also the Director of Global Initiatives at Human Rights Watch. Throughout the 1990s, Worden served as an adviser to Hong Kong's Martin Lee, a staunch anti-China proxy who has called for the British to recolonize Hong Kong. Lee has given deep support to the rightwing movement currently waging a violent campaign to separate Hong Kong from China under the guise of "human rights." The rest of the CHRI's staff is a who's who of former NED-funded functionaries such as executive director Hadi Ghaemi or advisers to U.S. government and private sector posts such as Michael Eisner.
Humanitarian imperialist think-tanks and NGOs such as CHRI are not interested in human rights in Iran or anywhere else. Their selective focus on nations under siege from the U.S. and its imperial allies reveal that so-called "human rights" organizations are nothing but proxies of regime change. The U.S. military state has viewed the spread of COVID-19 in Iran as an opportunity to build upon this long-standing geopolitical objective. CHRI's clamor for Iran to correct its alleged human rights abuses comes as the U.S. has escalated its forty-plus year war on Iran. Since mid-March, the U.S. has intensified sanctions on Iran, threatened outright U.S. naval aggression, and reinforced an arms embargo outlined in the nuclear agreement that the U.S. exited in 2018. For the architects of regime change, COVID-19 represents nothing more than opportunity to strike when their target is weakest.
What humanitarian imperialists fail to mention is that Iran has waged a largely successful campaign to reduce the spread of COVID-19 despite the presence of crippling sanctions and the threat of a U.S.-led war. Iran temporarily released seventy-thousand prisoners to prevent the virus' spread behind prison walls. The World Health Organization's envoy to Iran praised the country's initiatives for bringing down the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in a relatively short period. Such initiatives include mandatory social distancing, the redirection of production toward masks and testing kits, and detailed contact tracing to isolate infected individuals. COVID-19 deaths have declined by around seventy percent since it was announced in mid-March that one Iranian every ten minutes was dying from the virus.
If humanitarian imperialists cared about the Iranian people, then they wouldn't attempt to use the spread of a deadly pandemic to achieve the U.S.' geopolitical objective of overthrowing the Iranian government. Furthermore, targeting Iran at this vulnerable time only exposes the truly hypocritical "human rights" framework employed by NGOS such as the Center for Human Rights in Iran. The United States has failed to institute any significant release program for its 2.3 million prisoners. This has led to a countless number of deaths in prisons across the country. Furthermore, the U.S. currently leads the world in the number of deaths from COVID-19 and has allowed the virus to genocidally murder Black Americans at rates upward of three times their percentage of the general population in states such as Michigan and Wisconsin.
COVID-19 has exposed the United States as a human rights train wreck which has no right to tell nations such as Iran how to conduct its domestic affairs. The U.S. is an expert at mass murder for the sake of private profit and found itself unprepared when COVID-19 began to spread within its borders.
Instead of fostering cooperation with China, Iran, and the rest of the world in the fight against COVID-19, the U.S. has pirated medical supplies, threatened Iran and Venezuela with outright war, and refused to heed the call of the United Nations for a global ceasefire. That there is no NGO to address the ongoing war crimes of the United States is a lesson into the function of the "human rights" industry. NGOs represent the public relations arm of humanitarian imperialism, which is why their work is most prominently featured in the corporate media when Washington is escalating wars of regime change abroad.
Police brutality, incarceration, and state repression are serious human rights issues. Many people are rightfully concerned about human rights as they witness the horrifying and needless consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic worldwide. The U.S. and West have demonstrated in their response to COVID-19 that their societies are organized to stifle human rights in order to maximize the profits of a tiny capitalist class and the hegemony of the military state that protects this class. Activists and journalists must reject the humanitarian imperialists currently politicizing trendy social justice issues to undermine the self-determination of nations such as Iran. Iran is under siege as it battles a pandemic, and peace and social justice-loving people in the U.S. should demand that their government stops making the situation worse.