Iran champions animal rights; human rights not so much

Iran champions animal rights; human rights not so much
2 min read
01 Apr, 2016
Stoning, persecution of political opposition... But enough talk about Iran's human rights record - can't you see what it's doing for circus animals?
Every dog will have his day, at least in Iran [AFP]

In a week that has seen Iran's human rights record come under sustained attack from the press, exiled dissidents and the European Court of Human Rights, the Islamic Republic has also enjoyed a moment of grace for its loving treatment of our four-legged friends.

Indeed, for a month that began with a UN report claiming that the state's executions had reached a two-decade high, recent news that Iran has banned the use of animals in circuses should give Rouhani's regime some favourable coverage with which to start April.

The move, which will prevent the issuing of permits for the use of "wildlife" in circuses, will effectively ban animal acts in each of Iran's 31 states.

The announcement by the country's Department for Environment was greeted with jubilation by animal advocacy group Animal Defenders International (ADI), and comes after the "No to Circus!" campaign was launched by Animal Rights Watch in September 2014.

This is not the only news from Iran, however, that will have animal lovers, and animals for that matter, beaming with joy.

On Tuesday, London's The Guardian website ran a heart-warming story about the expansion of a dog sanctuary in Tehran, led by animal lover Maryam Sanei.

The article detailed how Iranian animal rights activists have worked with the kind souls at the Department of Environment - yes, the same people that saved the circus animals - to draft a law that will penalise those who "harass" stray animals. The draft law was referred to the president's office last month.

With such great news for the animal kingdom flowing from Tehran, one could almost forget the steady stream of news about Iran's numerous human rights issues. Well, almost.

The UN report on March 10 detailed how the republic had executed almost 1,000 people in 2015, at least four of whom were under the age of 18.

Meanwhile, 160 other children remain on death row, alongside hundreds of imprisoned journalists, bloggers and dissidents serving hefty sentences.

So, while animal rights advocates seem to be making inroads in Iran, human rights activists across the world will be left scratching their heads.

Perhaps there's never been a better time to be a great time to be a trapeze-swinging monkey, a ball-balancing elephant or a hoop-jumping lion.

Not such a great time to be a journalist, blogger or a political dissident, though.