UN human rights chief urges U.S. to lift sanctions on Iran

May 16, 2020 - 15:40

TEHRAN - UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet has urged the United States to lift sanctions on Iran and Venezuela, stressing that the sanitary situation called for such a move in order to save lives.

In an interview with France 24 published on Friday, she added that the medical exemptions to those sanctions touted by the Trump administration were too narrow and said only a suspension or a lifting of the sanctions would have a real impact.

Bachelet also said on March 24 that “in a context of a global pandemic, impeding medical efforts in one country heightens the risk for all of us.”

“At this crucial time, both for global public health reasons, and to support the rights and lives of millions of people in these countries, sectoral sanctions should be eased or suspended,” she said in a statement.

U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein has said that the United States should provide partial, temporary sanctions relief to Iran when the country is fighting the coronavirus.

“The U.S. should provide partial, temporary sanctions relief to Iran and facilitate efforts by international organizations to provide humanitarian funds and supplies so the country can respond more effectively to its coronavirus outbreak. Doing so would reduce popular resentment in Iran against the U.S. and help contain the spread of the disease throughout the region,” she wrote in an article titled, “U.S. and Iran Need a Coronavirus Peace Plan” published by Bloomberg on Thursday.

President Hassan Rouhani said on Wednesday that U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo does not know the ABC of politics, noting that the “worst” and “most devil” administration is ruling the United States.

“It has been for two years that we face the worst administration. I cannot remember the White House be inhuman to this extent… a bunch of people who know nothing. You see this country’s secretary of state seems he does not know the ABC of politics,” Rouhani pointed out as he was speaking to his cabinet members.

He added, “The United States has always acted against the independent and oppressed nations. In this pandemic, it causes problems for importing medicine.”

In a letter to the G-20 economic powers on March 24, Antonio Guterres, the UN Secretary General, called for rolling back international sanctions regimes around the world.

Guterres said sanctions are heightening the health risks for millions of people and weakening the global effort to contain the spread of the new coronavirus, Foreign Policy reported.

“I am encouraging the waiving of sanctions imposed on countries to ensure access to food, essential health supplies, and COVID-19 medical support. This is the time for solidarity, not exclusion,” he said.

“Let us remember that we are only as strong as the weakest health system in our interconnected world,” the UN chief said.

Renowned American scholar Noam Chomsky has said it is “sheer sadism” that the United States maintains sanctions on Iran during the coronavirus pandemic.

“The sanctions are illegitimate in the first place, and maintaining them during the pandemic is sheer sadism,” Chomsky told IRNA in an interview published on May 2.

Speaking from his office in self-isolation to Croatian philosopher and author Srecko Horvat in April, Chomsky blasted U.S. President Donald Trump for continuing sanctions on Iran.

“When the U.S. imposes devastating sanctions – it’s the only country that can do that, everyone has to follow ... the master. Or else they are kicked out the financial system,” said Chomsky, according to Aljazeera.

Norman Roule, a retired CIA official who served as national intelligence manager for Iran until 2017, told The Nation that the international community should do everything it can to enable the Iranian people to obtain access to medical supplies and equipment partly because “as Iranians travel throughout the region, they will continue to disperse the virus.”

Chris Murphy, the U.S. senator from Connecticut, warned on April 13 that the Trump administration could be partially responsible for “the death of innocent people” if it continues its current policies towards Iran amidst the epidemic.

Murphy also wrote on his Twitter page on April 6 that Iranians are dying of coronavirus partly because of U.S. sanctions. 

“Innocent civilians are dying there in part because our sanctions are limiting humanitarian aid during coronavirus,” he tweeted.


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