IranWire reports: It’s been a tense, worrying time for Iran’s “Happy” group, the seven young men and women arrested in May for posting their version of Pharrell Williams’ music video on YouTube. Over the last few days, they’ve been pacing up and down the hallways of the Tehran courthouse where their trial was due to take place , making sure all their legal papers were in order.
Today their lawyer, Farshid Rofugaran, told IranWire that six of his clients had been sentenced to six months in prison and 91 lashes. One of them was given a sentence of one year in prison and 91 lashes. “Fortunately,” said Rofugaran, “the sentences were suspended.” But he was quick to point out that, until he received official notification, he could not be 100 percent sure of his clients’ situation.
“A suspended sentence becomes null and void after a certain period of time,” Rofugaran said. For the Happy Group, that period will be three years. “When it’s a suspended sentence, the verdict is not carried out, but if during this period a similar offense is committed, then the accused is subject to legal punishment and the suspended sentence will then be carried out as well.” [Continue reading...]
I expect that among the anti-imperialist left, this story will pass without comment or perhaps without even being noticed — don’t expect it to be covered by Press TV.
Iran’s credentials as a resolute critic of American hegemony along with its vocal opposition to Zionism, means that for some in the West, the Islamic republic’s failings can mostly be forgiven.
There is in such an attitude a perverse contradiction.
On the one hand the West is viewed as fundamentally undemocratic, operating a system of rule in which the masses are pacified with distractions and trivial freedoms while their lives are controlled by corporate and political interests that are indifferent to the common good. But at the same time, political oppression in a state like Iran is largely ignored — as though, depending on the circumstances, oppression can be justified in the name of a noble cause.
What to my mind is inexcusable is that anyone, anywhere, should find it excusable that someone could be threatened with imprisonment and lashing because they were “guilty” of dancing and failing to follow a dress code.
If this kind of harmless self-expression is not viewed as a human right, it calls into question the very notion of human rights.