In recent days, negotiators have returned to Vienna for what is likely to be the final round in negotiations regarding the US returning to the Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA). According to some, a deal is “feasible,” even though the Iranians have categorically rejected the idea of using the old version of the JCPOA as a launching ground for a longer-term and stronger nuclear deal in the future, as US President Joe Biden envisions. The question remains, how will this affect Iran’s minorities?
According to the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, “The Obama administration routinely argued that the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran could spur Tehran to moderate, thereby reducing its systematic human rights abuses. But this forecast has proven unfounded: The Islamic Republic’s repression has only increased since 2015, demonstrating that one-sided nuclear concessions cannot produce reform in a regime defined by its radical Islamist ideology.”
Manel Msalmi, an advisor to the European Parliament, stated in an exclusive interview: “The situation for minorities in Iran has gone from bad to worse since Biden decided to go back to the Iranian deal. There have been a lot of arbitrary arrests, which target political and cultural activists as well as the execution of journalists, lately in Al Ahwaz but also among Kurds, Azeris and Balochis.”
“There is a growing feeling among non-Iranian populations that the Iranian regime feels powerful since they think that the economic sanctions are going to be lifted by the US and the EU in regard to the Iranian nuclear deal and that human rights abuses inside Iran are not going to be sanctioned by the US and EU,” she added. “As far as the deal is concerned, the non-Iranian populations as well as the neighboring Arab countries are worried about the nuclear deal and its impact on the environment as well as its impact in the region. There is a fear that the Iranian nuclear deal could be used against the dissidents among the non-Iranian minorities.”
Iranian Azerbaijani journalist Ahmat Obali, who was imprisoned as a child in Iran yet now is the founder of Gunaz TV Station in Chicago, added that most Iranians and especially the minorities are greatly disturbed about the prospect of the US returning to the nuclear deal: “People in Iran are upset about the sanctions relief. They don’t want sanctions relief. People are suffering in Iran. Although they suffer from sanctions, they suffer more from the government.”
“They prefer to suffer a bit more under the sanctions, hoping that the government can go,” he added. “It is also depressing, for the people feel that the US abandoned the human rights slogan that they are repeating. People are upset that they have been left alone. In short, a lot of our people are unhappy about the sanctions relief and most of them want the sanctions to stay. Some of them even want the sanctions to be increased.”
In a special segment on Gunaz TV, a group of Iranians who live inside of the Islamic Republic risked their own lives to call into Obali’s show and to voice their opposition to Iran sanctions relief. One of these Iranians proclaimed: “The mullah’s money transactions should be blocked. The sanctions should stay. The sanctions should stay and be increased until this regime is choked. If the US, Israel and France would attack, the mullah’s rule would end.”
Another Iranian told Obali: “It is better to keep the sanctions. The sanctions must be tightened because the regime is still able to sell goods and help the terrorists. This regime is at war with everyone. Let us keep the sanctions.” Another Iranian added: “The mullah’s regime is a dinosaur. Maintain the sanctions. When the sanctions were lifted, 150 billion dollars came to Iran but not a single dollar went to the people. Therefore, maintain the sanctions. Even though we suffer, I support the sanctions.”
Another Iranian ranted on Obali’s show: “Construction sand prices are up 70,000 tons per toman. Tomatoes are 8,000 tomans per kilogram. Is this America’s fault? I think that the sanctions should stay, so the regime cannot spend our money in Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen. The regime is struggling. Let them keep struggling to death. The sanctions should stay and increase.”
Hamid Mutashar, the founder of the Al Ahwaz Liberal Party, concurred: “We the Ahwaz believe that the United States in reality is conducting negotiations with the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, which is a designated terrorist organization. We understand that there is no moderate or fundamentalist wing of the Iranian government, for everyone is under the guidance of Ayatollah Khamenei and the Revolutionary Guards. By doing this, the US is making a historic mistake against the peoples of the region.”
“Furthermore, it should be added that this deal won’t stop Iran from obtaining a nuclear bomb,” he added. “The Iranian government will continue to seek nuclear weapons and the world will be taken by surprise.” Sirwan Mansouri, a Kurdish journalist based in the Middle East, claimed that the Western countries who are pursuing a nuclear deal with Iran do not really care about human rights.
He believes that these countries will sacrifice the human rights of the Iranian people including the minorities in order to obtain any deal that they can with the Islamic Republic of Iran. As a result, Mansouri predicts that there will be a grave deterioration in the human rights situation for all minorities in the Islamic Republic of Iran, once the nuclear deal has been officially signed.