By Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE/RL
Emad Baghi, a prominent Iranian human-rights defender who has been jailed in the Islamic Republic over his activities, has called on French President Francois Hollande not to undermine nuclear negotiations in Geneva aimed at finding a peaceful solution to the crisis over Iran's nuclear program.
Emad Baghi has urged France not to block a deal that could leave to the lifting of sanctions (file photo)
In an open letter issued by the website "Iranwire," Baghi, a writer and journalist, says he's "dismayed" by the "hard line" France took in the last round of negotiations in Geneva about 10 days ago.
After world powers and Iran failed to reach an agreement in the negotiations, many Iranians blamed French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, who reportedly opposed a draft agreement calling on Iran to slow down or stop sensitive nuclear activities in return for limited sanctions relief. Many Iranians are hoping a deal would eventually lead to lifting of sanctions that have made their lives increasingly difficult.
Baghi says sanctions seriously violate the rights of Iranian citizens and impoverishes them.
Baghi, based in the Iranian capital, says France should give negotiations a chance and allow a deal that could lead to an easing of sanctions.
"You may not see a direct connection between these nuclear talks and the concerns of a human-rights activist, but from my viewpoint and the point of view of many other activists in Iran, the continuation and extension of sanctions are causing the most egregious violations of human and citizens' rights in Iran. As a human-rights activist who is pained by having to witness numerous executions and human-rights violations in Iran and spends his days and nights trying to change the situation - paying heavy costs and facing tremendous economic and political pressure - I along with other Iranian activists surely understand better than anyone else the need for substantive reform in my country.
This awareness includes the knowledge that Iran is not the only country that should engage in serious reform of its internal affairs and international relations, and many other countries, in the region and the world, including in the West, should also undertake reform. But my main message to you is that improvements in human rights cannot be achieved when attempts are being made to paralyze and destroy the country's economy and impoverish the Iranian people.
Surely you must agree that encouraging a government that is interested in dialogue and reconciliation to continue this course will also have much better results for human rights than forcing the increased isolation of that country."
Baghi says blocking what he calls "conciliatory efforts" by the Iranian government leads to the strengthening of hard-liners.
"It makes the task of Iran's human-rights activists even harder," Baghi adds in his letter to Hollande.
Baghi has been internationally recognized for his work against the death penalty and his defense of political prisoners.
Baghi is not the only observer who believes a nuclear deal could lead to improvement in the human-rights situation inside the country.
Several Iranian analysts and observers told RFE/RL last week that a nuclear deal could give Iranian President Hassan Rohani more leverage to put promises of moderation on the domestic front into action.
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