The news that Iran has been elected to the U.N. women’s-rights commission should really be ho-hum. After all, such states as Cuba, Zimbabwe, China, Saudi Arabia, and genocidal Sudan have sat on the human-rights commission. That is what the U.N. is for: the Kafkaesque. But the news about Iran is slightly hard for me to take just at the moment. I have been at the Oslo Freedom Forum, listening to, among others, Marina Nemat. She is one of the countless girls and women who have been seized by the regime, thrown into Evin Prison — one of the darkest places on earth — tortured, raped, and otherwise battered. The regime has been doing this right from the beginning. Right from about 1980. And it is going on now. Rape, in particular, has been a constant tool of the regime: a tool of punishment and control. Why do we know Marina Nemat’s name, of all the girls and women who have been through this? Once escaped to the West, she wrote a book, Prisoner of Tehran: One Woman’s Story of Survival Inside an Iranian Prison. It is a harrowing, mind-scrambling story.
(Part II of my Oslo Journal — my reports from the Freedom Forum — appears on the homepage today. Nemat is not in it, but she is coming in a future installment. And would you like to know what got her thrown into Evin? When she was 16, she had the temerity to ask her calculus teacher to teach calculus, rather than to spout the Islamist propaganda of the regime.)
We are reminded once more of the truth that Solzhenitsyn uttered many years ago: The U.N. is not the united nations but the united governments or regimes. And that body at large is no better than the governments or regimes that compose it. And, though the world has gone far in democratization, there are still many regimes that are as savage as can be imagined. And they sit on such panels as human- and women’s-rights commissions. You know? Understandable — but still, as I said, hard to swallow.