Ghasem Sholeh Sadi, lawyer and former Member of the Parliament and political prisoner, told the International Campaign for Human Rights that he is somewhat optimistic about the consequences of the draft Citizenship Rights Charter presented by President Hassan Rouhani in November.
“For example, the Intelligence Ministry may show more flexibility during this period. But the IRGC does not report to the President. The Police do not really report to the President either; [they] report to the Commander of the Joint Forces. We can be generally hopeful that organizations reporting to the President may show more flexibility, but not much more than that will be achieved.”
“As the Citizenship Rights Charter is based on the Islamic Sharia principles, we cannot be that hopeful about it. In the past, whenever an article of the law related to human rights or citizenship rights has been discussed, almost immediately it has been augmented with the term ‘Islamic.’ Therefore, the laws have become devoid of the same meaning the rest of the world would understand from them, and therefore they would have to be scrutinized based on Islamic Sharia. For example, corporal punishment is prohibited based on human rights and citizenship rights principles, but we have flogging and stoning in Islam. Therefore these charters and others like them can only have a psychological effect on the society,” said Ghasem Sholeh Sadi.
Ghasem Sholeh Sadi was a law professor who was dismissed from his position. He also served twice as a member of the Iranian Parliament. On April 3, 2011, Ghasem Sholeh Sadi was sentenced to one-and-a-half years in prison and a ten-year ban on his law and teaching practices on charges of “propaganda against the regime” and “insulting the Supreme Leader,” after he wrote a critical letter to Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei. He was released from prison in August 2012, upon completion of his prison term. Sholeh Sadi registered as an independent to run for President in the 2013 Iranian presidential election.
Sholeh Sadi told the Campaign that the promises made in the Charter seem unrealistic. “It would be good if Mr. Rouhani is successful in delivering 1/10th of the promises he has made to the people. Considering the government’s limited power and authority within the Islamic Republic, the promises should be made at a realistic level; otherwise, if the promises are outside of the government’s authorities, naturally they will not be deliverable. It would be good if Mr. Rouhani can enforce a part of the citizenship rights in the society,” he told the Campaign.
Asked about how optimistic he is that the contents in the Charter may be confirmed by the Parliament and the Guardian Council, Mr. Sholeh Sadi said, “First of all, according to Article 4 and other articles in the Constitution, the Parliament cannot approve any laws that are against the Islamic laws. Secondly, there is a Guardian Council over the Parliament that evaluates the Parliament’s decisions against the Constitution and the Sharia standards, and revokes the decisions if they differ. Therefore, under these circumstances, people shouldn’t be too hopeful for a lot of changes in the society.”
“Nothing in particular will happen after this Charter is written, but we can certainly expect some flexibility in the society. For example, we can expect the Intelligence Ministry to ease up on fabricating cases against the citizens. I happen to know the present Intelligence Minister. He is a rational man and the things he has said so far are somewhat compatible with human rights. Therefore we can be hopeful that they would show some flexibility,” said Ghasem Sholeh Sadi.