Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Legacy Abroad

Human Rights in Iran

Jan 22, 2008, 00:00 ET from Iran Policy Committee

    ATLANTA, Jan. 22 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- On 21 January, 2008,
 Professor Raymond Tanter, President, Iran Policy Committee, spoke at the
 invitation of the Iranian-American Community of Georgia in Atlanta.
     Prof. Tanter explained Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s position on human
 rights abroad, which is based upon one fundamental principle: "Injustice
 anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."
     According to Prof. Tanter, "It was Dr. King's commitment to fighting
 injustice that led him to champion the cause of the African National
 Congress in South Africa. To this end, Dr. King issued a joint statement
 with ANC President-General Albert Lutuli in 1962 and spoke out in 1964
 about the jailing of Nelson Mandela at the notorious Robben Island prison."
     Prof. Tanter went on to describe how impressively Dr. King's legacy
 continued after his death: "The ideals of Martin Luther King Jr. were a
 critical source of inspiration to democratic movements behind the Iron
 Curtain. Both Solidarity in Poland and Charter 77 in Czechoslovakia adopted
 Dr. King's 'Letter from Birmingham City Jail.'"
     Prof. Tanter then moved on to discuss contemporary human rights
 atrocities, particularly those committed by the Iranian regime. According
 to Prof. Tanter, "The way a government treats its women is the best
 barometer of a country's human rights condition. In Iran, married women
 have very few legal rights. A woman must have written permission from her
 husband to travel. It is also nearly impossible for a woman to obtain a
 divorce, allowing men to abuse their wives and take multiple wives without
 fear of punishment.
     Regarding policy options, Prof. Tanter concluded, "The most powerful
 tool the United States can use to put Tehran's rulers on alert that gross
 violations of human rights must end is to empower the Iranian people for
 democratic change. To this end, the United States should remove the
 terrorist designations of the main, democratic Iranian opposition groups.
 The evidence behind such designations is specious, and the hampering of the
 democratic opposition jeopardizes U.S. national security interests.
     The main opposition groups, the Mujahedeen-e Khalq and the National
 Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), in stark contrast to the regime, are
 democratic, inclusive of women, and have as one of their highest missions
 the protection of human rights in Iran. In fact, NCRI President-elect
 Maryam Rajavi has looked to Dr. King's Birmingham Letter as a source of
 inspiration as the Iranian people are terrorized by those ruling Tehran."

SOURCE Iran Policy Committee