Last week, the Iranian regime took the ambassadors of 45 foreign countries for a tour of the notorious Evin prison in Tehran to judge for themselves how the state treats prisoners. The tour came one day after Javad Larijani, the head of the Iranian regime's so-called "Human Rights Organization," claimed there are no political prisoners in Iran.
This was an attempt to debunk the increasing wave of international criticism at Iran's human rights violations, especially in its prisons.
In the evidently pre-arranged setting, visitors were taken to distinct locations where prisoners were shown to have access to education, media, communications, and work. Disappointingly, some of the attendants, including the ambassadors of Indonesia, Portugal, and South Korea, praised the regime for the humane conditions in its prisons and its treatment of prisoners, according to state-run media.
Meanwhile, political prisoners continue to linger under unbearable conditions in prisons that no foreign diplomat is allowed to visit.
One example is Majid Assadi, a political activist who was arrested by agents of the regime's intelligence ministry on Feb. 18. Assadi was kept in solitary confinement under severe duress for 50 days, and was incarcerated in Evin's wards 209 and 240 for months before being transferred to the Gohadasht prison in Karaj, west of Tehran. Incidentally, his transfer took place a short while before the foreign ambassadors' tour of Evin.
After months, Assadi still awaits to be tried for charges of supporting the opposition group People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran.
Assadi previously served another four-year prison term from 2011 to 2015 for attending a ceremony commemorating the victims of the 1999 student protests in Tehran.
Assadi is one of the countless political prisoners who have suffered or continue to suffer at the hands of the Iranian regime.
The regime's treatment toward dissidents, especially members and supporters of MEK, has been brutal throughout the years. In 1988, in a massive purge of Iran's prisons, the regime executed 30,000 political prisoners, most being linked to MEK. Mostafa Pourmohamadi, Iran's current justice minister, was one of the main orchestrators of the heinous crime. Ebrahim Raisi, a presidential candidate in the recent presidential elections, was another key player in the event that has become known as the "1988 massacre."
Recent years have seen no decline in the harsh treatment of activists and dissidents.
A few weeks ago, Shabnam Madadzadeh, a political activist who recently escaped Iran, gave a harrowing account of the conditions in Gohardasht prison, where Assadi is now being held. During her incarceration, Madadzadeh was threatened to be executed, beaten, deprived of family visits, and phone calls, and she was kept in solitary confinement for long periods.
In 2012, Sattar Beheshti, a blogger, was tortured to death in Evin prison, the same complex that the foreign ambassadors toured, for having posted online content that criticized the regime's judicial system.
These are just some of the many examples of how the regime treats dissidents. The truth is, the crimes that the Iranian regime has committed against its people and especially in its prisons will not be washed away with any amount of charade setups such as the one it held last week in the Evin prison.
However, whether made out of ignorance or in hopes of currying economic and political favors, the irresponsible remarks made by foreign diplomats will give the regime free rein to continue persecuting, torturing and executing dissidents while it still clings on to power.
The Iranian people will not forget nor forgive the regime's crimes, and will not relent until its officials are held to full account for their atrocities. The least that the international community can do is not to attempt whitewashing the crimes of their murderers.
Amir Basiri (@amir_bas) is a contributor to the Washington Examiner's Beltway Confidential blog. He is an Iranian human rights activist.
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