On Tuesday, the U.N. Human Rights Council showed why it is a genuinely evil organization, letting a man address the council who has been acknowledged as one of the most brutal men in the world.
As Sohrab Ahmari noted in Commentary, Iranian Justice Minister Alireza Avaei, who addressed the Human Rights and Alliance of Civilizations Room in Geneva, was identified by the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center (IHRDC) as the same man who, in 1988, served as a “prosecutor and well-known interrogator” in Dezful in southern Iran.
The horrifying IHRDC report on the 1988 slaughter of Iran dissidents, which numbered in the thousands, cited Avaei sitting on the “death commissions” implementing Ayatollah Khomeini’s fatwa ordering the regime to liquidate imprisoned leftists and members of the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK).
Avaei’s career in torture and summary execution didn’t end there. Two decades later, as chief of justice of Tehran Province, he helped oversee the bloody crackdown against the pro-democracy Green Movement. This involved the operation of Kahrizak, a makeshift prison and interrogation camp where young dissidents were raped using batons and soda bottles. Two years later, the European Union sanctioned Avaei for his role in these events.
When Avaei spoke on Tuesday, as The New York Times reported, “Sweden’s foreign minister, Margot Wallstrom, and a handful of European diplomats left the council chamber in protest. Had the meeting been held in a European Union member state Mr. Avaei would have not been permitted to attend.”
Impact Iran, a coalition of nongovernment groups monitoring human rights in Iran, was outraged, stating, “By choosing a major violator as Iran’s voice on human rights, Iran is also making a mockery of the Human Rights Council and showing contempt for the U.N. human rights system as a whole.”
More than a decade since the council’s founding, 25 of its 47 members are classified as un-free or partly free by Freedom House. These include such human rights champions as China, Cuba, and Venezuela. Meanwhile, Israel remains the only state to be the subject of a permanent agenda item. Haley, the U.S. envoy, says she is committed to pressing U.N. reform, especially at the council. But the best thing Washington can do is to pull out of the U.N. Human Rights Council as it did earlier with UNESCO. Lending American legitimacy to this cruelly misnamed body sets back the noble cause of human rights.