I wonder how Britons would feel if another country had engineered a coup in Britain that led to a repressive regime? That had a secret police force that killed & tortured hundreds of people, and that country was now part of a group of belligerent nations that imposed sanctions and denied it sovereign control of its resources. That in fact backed terrorist attacks in Britain. And then to cap it all expected Britain to bow down to its demands and ultimately install a government friendly to this outside influence. Because simply starting from zero with criticising Iran is not remotely accurate, context is needed otherwise the stench of a bad imperialist hangover is strong. So Iran has had a different history to us (duh) and we have played a large role in destroying democracy in a nation that unlike us and our allies has not attacked or invaded another nation for 300 years.
And so we get to the case of Reza Saberi which clearly shows up the problem of the authoritarian establishment in Iran (gleefully reported by Voice of America). She is likely to become a bargaining chip and in the West where our political prisoners are almost never talked about the ease of painting Iran as repressive while we are freedom incarnate is remarkably easy for our press and government. For that reason such dynamics never help a nation in the public mind of westerners drip-fed corporate media. Everyone else is evil and has political prisoners, not us, and to suggest so is an unpatriotic socialist trouble making treason! Except…We have a special forces soldier gagged from telling the truth about our role in torture, we have civil servants who were jailed for letting us know the lies of govt to facilitate the war crime of Iraq, we lock up hundreds of people without trial simply for being foreign, our security forces kill people in broad daylight and those responsible are praised by their superiors (who get promoted) for doing a great job.
So nobody’s perfect.
Saberi remaining in Iran is also because she was in a relationship with award-winning film director Bahman Ghobadi. I’m sure many Britons while travelling have exceeded the terms of their visa and again in the UK we have jailed people for similar non-crimes. Which is to say people who jump to decry another nation for having poor human rights need to also be engaged in the fight for human rights in their own country. Human rights as a tool a patriotism, imperialism or national pride are a con game for morons. It begins at home, then you are able to also talk about similar injustices elsewhere, for most of the media and the dupes who consume it that is not the case and Saberi will be nothing more than a propaganda stick to beat the enemy du jour with. However to those with real concern who fight for human rights wherever they may be being abused, in Yarl’s Wood or Evin, her plight is a genuine concern. As she is on hunger strike she should be moved to a hospital and an appeal quickly granted, I’m sure there is no shortage of defence lawyers who can demolish the state’s case as it seems to have been built on an arrest for lapsed press credentials that was talked into a bigger case by tricking Saberi with promises of a quick release. Again not so different to how our police operate.