Some hardline media in Iran have called the Iran Atrocities Tribunal, held in London last week, a British stunt to shift attention from £400 million owed Iran.
Others say the United States or Zionists had set up a theatrical show, but it appears the event had enough impact on public opinion that Iran’s hardliners chose to react.
The Tribunal convened on the anniversary of the 2019 protests to “investigate atrocities” and “human rights violations by Iran” during the protests in Iran when hundreds of people were killed by security forces and more than 8,000 jailed.
"It appears that finding the payment of its debt to Iran challenging, Britain is trying to divert attention and wants to get the upper hand through media spectacles and allegedly independent international institutions," Raja News reported Monday.
Britain owes Iran £400 million (around $540 million) for tanks sold to Iran more than four decades ago but never delivered. Richard Ratcliffe, husband of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe who served four years in prison for ‘espionage’ says his wife, who is not allowed to leave Iran, has been taken ‘hostage’ to secure payment, which was ordered in 2001 by an international court.
Javan newspaper, which is affiliated to the Revolutionary Guards, saw the tribunal as a "puppet show" launched by "the White House media circle and escapees of the 2009 sedition." Some of the tribunals’ organizers left Iran following protests after the disputed 2009 presidential election, and among witnesses called was Masih Alinejad, a prominent US-based women’s rights defender and opponent of the Islamic Republic.
Javan said the US had organized anti-revolutionary "nuclei" to incite unrest and sedition months before protests in 2019.
Fars news agency, also affiliated to the IRGC, said the tribunal was a "ridiculous show" with the involvement of "infamous Zionists." It suggested Thursday that the organizers sought to generate excuses to the European Union and the US to impose sanctions on Iran.
According to Iran Wire, a report was submitted in advance of the tribunal to the International Criminal Court, to which Iran, like the US, is not a party. The ‘verdict’ of the tribunal, held in London 10-14 November, will be symbolic.
Organizers have referred to "paramount evidence on grave human rights violations" in previous investigations by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Iran, the UN Secretary General, and organizations such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Justice for Iran, and Iran Human Rights.
Media affiliated with Iran’s hardliners have questioned the purpose of the tribunal and the extensive coverage from foreign Persian-language media, especially Iran International TV, which relayed proceedings live. "What is the theatrical show of Aban Tribunal in London supposed to achieve?” a journalist who reflects hardliner views, Kobra Asoupar tweeted Tuesday.
Asoupar wrote in her tweet that the tribunal sought Iran's condemnation, confiscation of its assets, intensification of sanctions and international pressure, and payment of compensation to plaintiffs "from the pockets of the Iranian people," presumably from frozen Iranian assets. She added that Alinejad "filled her pockets with Americans’ rewards," apparently a reference to her work for media outlets funded by the United States.