Int'l. Petition Calls Iran to Accountability

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JERUSALEM, Israel - Canadian parliamentarian and human rights advocate Irwin Cotler launched a global petition in Jerusalem this week, calling on the international community to act against "the toxic convergence of four distinct, yet interrelated, threats" posed by Iran."

"I would have hoped the massive domestic repression in Iran, unmasked since June 12 because it was there before June 12, would have resulted in the international community being in open and public and sustained support for the Green Movement, as it has come to be called," Cotler told CBN News during an interview at the Jerusalem Bureau.

While the world welcomed the New Year with fireworks and champagne, citizens of Iran were being arrested, tortured, raped and murdered, reports said.

Iranians say they are no longer willing to live under the oppressive rule of their president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, or Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. They have apparently decided freedom is worth fighting and even dying for.

"The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, which is responsible for the crackdown domestically as we meet - [is also] responsible for the nuclear program," Cotler said.

While the world has yet to act against the human rights violations taking place in Iran, Cotler - and a growing number of international law scholars, genocide and human rights experts, diplomats and political leaders - say it's time for that to change.

"Iran has emerged as a clear and present danger to international peace and security and regional and Middle East stability," the Canadian MP told reporters at a press conference on Wednesday morning.
Four Convergent Threats

The former justice minister and his colleagues identify what they call the four convergent threats as a nuclear-armed Iran, state-sanctioned incitement to genocide, state-sponsored international terrorism, and the massive assault on the human rights of the Iranian people.

"We take the view that Iran has already committed the crime of incitement to genocide prohibited under the Genocide Convention. And so it is our view that state parties to the Genocide Convention - like the United States or Canada or any of the European countries - have an obligation - it's not a policy option - under the Genocide Convention to bring Ahmadinejad's Iran to account for this international crime," Cotler said.

The first part of Cotler's 150-page petition provides broad documentation and eyewitness testimonies of the human rights violations taking place in Iran.

The second part proposes a set of specific remedies that respond to the four threats defining the Islamic Republic.

"We identified 10 sets of economic sanctions - to have enacted all at the same time - comprehensive, targeted, calibrated to have their effect," Cotler said.

Iran's 'Achilles Heel'

For example, Iran imports 40 percent of its petroleum.

"This is their economic Achilles heel. They import 40 percent of their gas with respect to their refining capacity for the export of petroleum. It's one of those paradoxes. They're the second leading exporter of oil, but they don't have a domestic refining capacity. We have to enjoin that, sanction that, we've got to ensure that we hit at the Achilles heel, the economic vulnerability," he said.

Cotler said the Revolutionary Guards control 80 percent of Iran's commerce.

"They control the construction sector, the telecommunications sector - the major anchors of the economy in Iran - and they too have been effectively immunized thus far from any accountability," he said. 

Cotler, who believes Iranian leaders should be subject to travel bans and asset seizures, has submitted draft legislation in the Iranian parliament, called the Iran Accountability Act, which could be used as a template by other governing bodies.

"It speaks to seven initiatives that any country can take with respect to holding Ahmadinejad's Iran to account," he said.

For example, an Interpol arrest warrant has been issued for Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi, former commander of the Revolutionary Guards, appointed by Ahmadinejad this past August. Vahidi, who is considered an international terrorist, helped plan and carry out the 1994 bombing of the Jewish community center in Argentina.
The petition also calls for withholding Iranian transport - landing rights for planes and harbor port rights for ships.

"This is a very comprehensive, targeted set of sanctions as part of a larger diplomatic, legal, political, economic framework to hold them to account," Cotler said.

"Let there be no mistake about it. As the petition demonstrates, Iran is in standing violation of international legal prohibitions against the development and proliferation of nuclear weapons. Iran has already committed the crime of incitement to genocide prohibited under the Genocide Convention, and Iran is engaged in widespread and systematic violations of the rights of its own people," read a statement released on December 30.

"Nobody in Iran is being held accountable. So we're saying to the international community, 'This is a wakeup call. We're trying to sound the alarm," Cotler said.

"Inaction in the face of overwhelming evidence is itself a crime," he said.

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Tzippe Barrow

Tzippe Barrow

CBN News Internet Producer - Jerusalem

From her perch high atop the mountains surrounding Jerusalem, Tzippe Barrow helps provide a bird’s eye view of events unfolding in her country.

She and her husband made aliyah (immigrated to Israel) several years ago. Barrow hopes that providing a biblical perspective of today’s events in Israel will help people in the nations to better understand the centrality of this state and the Jewish people to God’s unfolding plan of redemption for all mankind.