Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s chief of staff, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, is planning to come to the U.S. tomorrow to attend a meeting at the United Nations, just days after the UN secretary-general released a report detailing the human-rights violations in Iran.
Mashaei, like other members of the Iranian regime, is culpable for the countless human-rights abuses that take place in his country, and it’s astounding and disturbing that the Obama administration would allow him to enter the U.S.
Mashaei’s visit has unsurprisingly sparked concern from Republican Sen. Mark Kirk, who plans to address this issue on the floor of the Senate this evening. According to Kirk’s prepared remarks, he’ll call on President Obama to designate Mashaei and others in the Iranian regime as human-rights abusers, under Executive Order 13553.
“Let there be no doubt — Mr. Mashaei, like his President, is directly responsible for human rights abuses in Iran. He should not be granted a visa to enter the United States — and he, like his President, should be designated under U.S. law as a human rights abuser in Iran,” Kirk is expected to say.
The senator will also outline the numerous abuses by the Iranian government outlined in the latest UN report, including the findings that “[a]t least 22 people charged with Mohareb [enmity against God] have been executed since January 2010. Journalists, bloggers, human rights defenders and lawyers continue to be arrested or subjected to travel bans. Blogs and websites are restricted and now more than 10 national dailies have been shut down for refusing to toe the official line.”
According to Kirk, the U.S. “cannot allow these violations to go unnoticed. Nor can we continue to turn a blind eye to the countless prisoners of conscience fighting for basic human dignity in this brutal dictatorship.”
Will the Obama administration support the people of Iran by barring Mashaei from the country? Or will he be allowed to travel with impunity? If he does come to New York, it will be most interesting to see if activist groups like Human Rights Watch — which regularly attempt to arrest U.S. and Israeli politicians for “war crimes” — will protest the arrival of an actual human-rights abuser. Somehow, I doubt it.