Cablegate: Iran: Ideas On How to Pressure the Regime On Human Rights Without Risking Our Broader Agenda

DE RUEHLO #2352 2891200
O 161200Z OCT 09

C O N F I D E N T I A L LONDON 002352



E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/07/2019
SUBJECT: IRAN: IDEAS ON HOW TO PRESSURE THE REGIME ON HUMAN RIGHTS WITHOUT RISKING OUR BROADER AGENDA REF: A. A. STATE 103219 B. B. THE HAGUE 608 Classified By: Politial Minister-Counselor Greg Berry, reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

1. (C) Summary: Iranian interlocutors are increasingly concerned that the international community is not doing enough to highlight the human rights violations being committed by the Iranian regime (IRIG). These contacts believe focusing on the nuclear issue provides the Iranian regime with legitimacy it craves in return for what will, in the end, become meaningless promises for greater transparency. Interlocutors have suggested ways to continue negotiations on the nuclear issue while simultaneously keeping human rights on the agenda. End Summary.

2. (C) Iranians contacts who support the Green Way movement are concerned the international community, and the U.S. in particular, is playing into the hands of the Iranian regime by focusing its attention primarily on nuclear cooperation and are unaware that the USG has raised the issue of human rights with the IRIG in private fora. (ref A) According to London Iran Watcher contacts, the Iranian regime is pleased the west has focused on the nuclear issue, as it is a subject the IRIG feels confident about -- President Ahmadinejad and other IRIG officials are happy to slowly mete out concessions to the P5 1 in order to keep the focus on the nuclear program and not on the Iranian domestic situation. If the international community really wants to put pressure on the regime, they reason, it should shine a light on the suppression of free speech, rape and torture of prisoners and other human rights abuses being committed by the IRIG. These issues, especially allegations of prison rapes, make the regime extremely uncomfortable and less able to respond. The difficult question is how to ratchet up the pressure without endangering ongoing nuclear discussions.

A FEW SUGGESTIONS FOR PUTTING THE IRIG ON THE DEFENSIVE --------------------------------------------- ----------

3. (C) Mindful of the delicate international engagement with Iran currently underway London IW contacts have suggested the following: a) Have the European Parliament invite Mehdi Karroubi to Brussels to present his dossier on the rape and torture of Iranian opposition activists by the IRIG. IW contacts believe Karroubi is angry enough to be willing to take the risk of traveling to Brussels and speaking out against the regime. If the IRIG bans Karroubi's travel, the dossier could be sent to Brussels and read out in his (conspicuous) absence. The EP also could invite some of the former prisoners who have fled Iran to testify. b) Ask a non-P5 1 member country to sponsor a request for the UN to designate a special rapporteur on human rights in Iran. The Dutch may be a logical choice for such an approach, as they are looking for ways to be helpful on human rights, according to ref B. Even if, as seems inevitable, the IRIG refuses to allow the UN representative to visit, it would keep Iranian human rights in the spotlight. c) IW contacts have also proposed that President Obama grant an interview with an Iranian journalist who writes both for western media and Iranian media. The IRIG is less able to censor an interview with the President than a written statement, so it would be an opportunity for the President to speak directly to the Iranian people as he did in his Nowruz message.

4. (C) Comment: Even politically sophisticated Iranians who understand why the U.S. must engage the IRIG on the nuclear issue are concerned that human rights issues also receive attention. They argue that there is a way the U.S. can quietly use its influence to put pressure on the IRIG on human rights without endangering the P5 1 engagement on the Iranian nuclear program. End Comment. Visit London's Classified Website: XXXXXXXXXXXX

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