Anne Holsinger 0:01 

Hello and welcome to Discussions with DPIC. I’m Anne Holsinger, Managing Director of the Death Penalty Information Center. Our guest today is Roya Boroumand, the Executive Director of the Abdorrahman Boroumand Center for Human Rights in Iran. She holds a PhD in the History of International Relations, and is a specialist in Iran’s post-World-War-II history. Thank you for joining us, Dr. Boroumand. 

Roya Boroumand 0:26 

Thank you for having me. 

Anne Holsinger 0:27 

Could you begin by telling our listeners a little bit about you, and how you became involved in the work of the Abdorrahman Center and what the center does? 

Roya Boroumand 0:35 

I am the co-founder and the executive director of the center. And I would say that the genesis of this work, which is a documentation and human rights, education work, goes back to 1979-1980, when I was a student in France, and also a political activist. I grew up surrounded with pro-democracy lawyers opposing the authoritarian rule of the King, and promoting the rule of law, actually, and the revolutionary regimes immediate attack on the rule of law, the right to life and the legal profession was very shocking for us. So back in those days, we tried to document all executions, regardless of political affiliation, or whether or not they were related to ordinary crimes by going through daily, official and semi-official newspapers of Iran and we published actually, in the framework of the political movement, a book called In Defense of Human Rights, where we had listed these executions for, I don’t know, two years worth of executions, and we had given examples of trials, which were violating due process of law. And at the time, there were no takers, really, no one was interested in human rights, per se, the victims themselves, were not necessarily interested in human rights. And so this project stayed at the level of that publication, that book. But later in the 1990s, when the internet appeared, and we started to read young Iranians and students, we realize that we have a new audience that is much more interested in finding a better future, and so that is when we founded this organization. And basically, to sum it up like so we believe that a strong democracy will not take root in mass graves and oblivion. So we have to understand what happened and prevent repetition. So we try to uncover the truth about executions and other officially sanctioned violence against individuals and about fundamental failures of due process, when in particular, when they affect the right to life. Our goal is to ensure that the victims are remembered and that society understand what has gone wrong, and how, and how to fix it and that perpetrators eventually are held accountable. One more thing is that we have a database called Omid Memorial, it’s an online interactive database, where we publish all these violations of the right to life by creating a page for every victim that we document. And of course, it’s a work in progress. And I don’t think in my lifetime, we will be able to have a clearer idea of how many people have been killed in Iran or are being killed but that database, Omid Memorial is available online. 

Anne Holsinger 4:06 

The highest number of reported executions in any country last year occurred in Iran, according to Amnesty International’s annual report. The 576 executions in 2022 marked an 83% increase from the previous year. And at the time of this recording, there have been at least 486 executions in 2023. What do you think is driving this tremendous increase in executions in Iran and who are the people being executed? 

Roya Boroumand 4:35 

The it’s true that executions have gone up. So far, we have documented 474 executions so far in 2023, compared to 361 in the same period last year. About 281 of these executions are for drug related charges, only 152 for murder, 16 for sexual offences, and 12 for, are politically motivated, 2 is also politically motivated because there are executions on the charge of blasphemy. And there are also 5 executions with no charges announced. So this is approximate, right? But so what I can say is that capital punishment obviously, has always existed in Iran, but the number of executions, including of the politically motivated executions, have been generally extremely high since the 1979 revolution. The new revolutionary leaders used executions as a means to establish themselves and eliminate potential rivals or threats, and they continue to do so to maintain themselves in power. My understanding as someone who has documented executions since the early days of the revolution is that capital punishment for the Islamic Republic authorities is not necessarily a tool for crime control, but it’s rather a means to spread fear in society. Sharia law was introduced in the penal code 3 years after the revolution, though many Shiite clerics and religious scholars did not believe in the wisdom of such a law. In fact, our first Penal Code dates back to 1926, if I recall, and it was a secondary penal code with no religious influence and it was sanctioned by one of the most prestigious and respected Ayatollahs of the time. So obviously, discussing clerics perspective on the issue is beyond the scope of this conversation and I’m not an expert on the issue, but I can say that many of us have serious doubts about the fact that religious beliefs are at the root of the use of capital punishment in Iran. At the time in the initial years, the state reported many executions. Soon they realize the political costs of announcing, reporting, high number of executions, and so they stopped systematic reporting. And now they do report and some of the executions they carry out, but because they need to send a message to the public, but most executions are not reported officially. And it is only in the last decade or, you know, 10-15 years, that because of the progress in communication and the interest that civil society is taking and political prisoners are taking in the executions that we have information from non-official sources. Obviously, we have more information when there are more political prisoners, because political prisoners are also held with ordinary prisoners convicted of ordinary crimes. Known execution numbers have gone up after protests in 2005, among minorities and more sharply after the 2009 protests around the elections and the results of the elections and during the nuclear negotiations. I believe that in times of instability, and when Iran’s leaders have to compromise internationally, which they see as a sign of weakness, they feel like they have to remind citizens that they do and will kill. In the summer of 1988, for example, after Iran agreed to sign the peace agreement with Iraq, 4 to 5000 political prisoners already sentenced to prison were killed in secret in a few weeks. By 2015, as Iran was negotiating a deal accepting a compromise on the nuclear issue, we had recorded more than 1,052 reported executions in one year. And executions rose again after the November 2019 nationwide protest, as well as during COVID-19 crisis when the authorities handling of the virus had angered the population. And more recently after the nationwide protests in 2022, which began in mid-Sept-, mid-September last year and centered around women’s rights initially and evolved to question the legitimacy of clerical rule as a whole and created a new context and challenged the state narrative, its basis, popular basis and its own legitimacy. The protests involved by December of 2022, the protests had involved 164 cities and towns, including localities that had never witnessed protests before. Close to 150 University, High School, businesses and groups including oil workers, merchants, and baazar people, teachers, lawyers, at least 45 of whom had been arrested. Artists, athletes, and even doctors joined these protests in various form — this was a major challenge to the state. By March, the state announced that they had released 22,000 people arrested for the protests. So it’s unclear how many people they were arrested, they had arrested, but if they released, they announced releasing 22,000 people, that means that the number of arrests were higher. So who is executed? Well, executions on more straightforward political charges this year, we are counting 12, of them, but they are generally in the last couple of decades, they are just a teeny fraction of the overall executions. There were 2 executions on blasphemy charges, 2 which were actually reported by the authorities who are generally more discreet on such executions. And I see that also as a sign of concern about the views on Islam of citizens, in particular the younger generations, and a warning to that. Obviously, we have no certainty on the numbers, including on the number of politically motivated executions, due to the lack of transparency of the judicial process, the lack of access, the persecution of relatives and lawyers who speak up and precedents of political prisoners being charged with ordinary offenses. But politically motivated executions and executions on drug charges specifically tend to affect the poor and minority communities such as the Baluchis, the Arabs, the Kurds, who are very disproportionately affected. And, you know, one analysis would be that executions of members of those communities have a lower political cost for the state internally, inside the country. They have so far killed 7 protesters, 2, I believe, in late 22, five this year. In these cases, again, the executions target the relatively poor and vulnerable protesters, the one without strong family and civil society connections. In these criminal cases, defendants are routinely denied access to lawyers during interrogations, which allow police and intelligence interrogators to coerce confessions on the torture that are then used in court as evidence. In many cases, files and documents may not be made available to defendants and their lawyers to allow them to prepare a proper and timely defense. Sometimes vital evidence is withheld, which I know is not only happening in Iran, but when due process is violated to such a such an extent, then withholding vital evidence becomes even more lethal. 

Anne Holsinger 13:43 

Could you describe for us what the rule of law is like in Iran and the role of the Revolutionary Courts in recent executions? And in particular, do you have concerns about how trials are conducted? 

Roya Boroumand 13:55 

Yes, of course, this is a very important question because these Revolutionary Court shouldn’t even exist and so the rule of law was the first target of the revolutionary regime. And things have evolved since the first decades. I mean, when the Revolutionary Court started functioning, basically days after the fold of the previous regime, they were ad hoc tribunals supposed to deal with some of the officials of the former regime. Iran’s constitution, which was drafted in mid-1979, and put to a vote at the end of the year, did not include revolutionary courts at all. So the judges in these courts and in many other criminal courts, are clerics and have not necessarily been to law school. Many of these judges, I would say most of these judges, don’t even have university education. In the beginning of the functioning of these courts, no one had a lawyer and judgments, there was no opinion and judgments were implemented the day, the night or the day after the judgment was issued, so thousands of people were executed that way and in the couple of, the first couple of decades of the Islamic Republic, that was the case, and then slowly, there were some changes, there were appeals, although for drug related offenses, there were no appeals until 2012, or 13, if I recall. Lawyers, you know, were allowed in court, except that lawyers are not allowed in interrogations. And most often, lawyers are not allowed in most of the stages of the prosecution until the very last trial. Lawyers are now mandatorily present in court for cases that carry the death penalty. And that is actually respected as far as we know. And there is appeal, obviously, but there is no transparency in cases of a national security cases, for example, now, the the judges, the judiciary has to approve the lawyer chosen by defendants. And so defendants have a list of lawyers approved by the judiciary that they can choose from. And, you know, when they have their own lawyers, sometimes, these lawyers are allowed in court and sometimes they’re not and sometimes they’re allowed to see the case file, and sometimes they’re not, there is no consistency. And the judges have a lot of freedom of action and they are not held accountable for inconsistency or for denying defendants because at the end of the day, every every judge is an independent representative of God on earth, and with a very, very clear mandate, to interpret the law and to make their own decision. So for example, we have cases of capital, a capital punishment, people who are executed, where there is no sufficient evidence, and the judge mentions its own, his own knowledge. The judge doesn’t necessarily have to explain, but his own knowledge is sufficient to be the basis of the death penalty, the ruling. There has been improvements, but I can’t say there is a rule of law in Iran. I can say that there is, there are changes and changes are possible to a certain degree, but at the end of the day, these executions are a tool of, to protect the revolution. So it is very hard to foresee that someday, we will have the rule of law, as long as we have this penal code and Code of Criminal Procedure, or the Revolutionary Courts, for that matter. The Revolutionary Courts should not exist and should not have existed to begin with and should not exist now, so they are functioning outside the law. The judges are very close to the intelligence community and to the Revolutionary Guard, some of them, but most of them are chosen based on their loyalty to the system and not their loyalty to to justice, basically. 

Anne Holsinger 18:58 

In one of your earlier answers, you mentioned the executions in 1988, when 1000s of political prisoners were tortured and executed. Last July, Sweden used the principle of universal jurisdiction to prosecute Iranian official Hamid Nouri for his role in these mass executions and he was subsequently sentenced to life in prison. Could you explain the difference between the international response to the 1988 mass executions and the more recent mass executions? 

Roya Boroumand 19:29 

So you have to remember the context of those days. The context was obviously the Iran-Iraq war during which you know, a million people were killed. You have to remember hostage takings, bombings, I mean, Iran blew up the US Embassy in Lebanon, and the peacekeepers, the US peacekeepers in Lebanon. Hundreds of people were killed. They did the same to the French and there were bombs in Paris, in department stores. There were hostages in Lebanon, French, British, German, and American, just name it, there was a very different context and part of these bombings were explained by the fact that the US and France, for example, were giving arms to Iraq. But part of it, like the bombings in department stores and public places in France in 1985-86, was calling for the release of Lebanese who, and his team is a team that had come to France in 1980, to assassinate the former Prime Minister of the Shah, who was actually an opposition member, Shapour Bakhtiar, and they had not succeeded in getting into his apartment, but they had killed a French policeman who was guarding the door and a French neighbor, because they rang the wrong doorbell and this lady opened and they shot her. And so those bombings were asking for the release of those prisoners, so violence was used as a method of pressure, deterrence, advancing political goals. So by the time of the 1988 killing, which actually happened pretty secret in the executions were very secretive, right? And the pressure, the shock of the survivors was such that, you know, they were unregulated witnessing these mass killings at a time when prisoners thought that these, these the group questioning them was a group that was in prisons to organize mass pardons, not mass killings, the secret was well kept. But yet, you know, still the news came out and the UN was informed and, and there was nothing, I mean, at best a paragraph, in the Special Rapporteur’s report, there was nothing. And I assume that at the time, first of all, there were no contacts between the population inside and population outside. There were no social media, there were no pressure on politicians, and everyone was happy to see the war ending, there were perspective of maybe normalization with Iran, that country’s hoped that to normalize the relations, and to end the violence, and to do business, you know. Iran has a lot of gas, a lot of oil and a lot of other natural resources. So it’s a good market, it’s a good place to be. I assume all of these were combined to prevent the, especially the western democracies to speak up. And then after that, but now you have the social media, you have public opinion, watching, you know, young women killed for a few strands of hair, we are in a whole different context. There is a an Iranian, at the time, there was no human rights groups, barely a couple very weak ones outside the country. There was no strong civil society and now you have a very active civil society and active human rights groups that are informing the international community and not giving them the excuse of saying they didn’t know. But it’s also social media. A lot of young Iranians are connected through Instagram and other means to people of their generation everywhere in the world, and to the diaspora. And so there is more connection, there is more. A young woman in the US, a young high school students watching the events in Iran relates to this young rapper, for example, or young girl who is on Instagram and putting out posting videos of herself, singing or doing stuff. They relate to each other. At the time, no one related to Iranians who were mostly represented by these bearded guys with guns, right? So the Iranian public had disappeared from the public mind, there was it was a mass of covered people, less individuality than now. So there are many contributing factors. Also, I assume that, you know, you have Iranian drones in Ukraine, there are also international reasons. I think that the humanitarian reasons are not the sole motivation for the international community being more reactive. But most, mostly, I would say that there is a public opinion pressure on politicians to do something and to say something and that pressure did not exist in 1988. 

Anne Holsinger 25:39 

Despite widespread international condemnation, and the United Nations fact-finding mission in place, Iran has increased its use of the death penalty, often in violation of international law. What actions if any, should the international community take to curb these human rights violations? 

Roya Boroumand 25:56 

Well, Iran, Iran is sensitive to international criticism. And I think that all the people working against capital punishment everywhere in the world, common cause, I mean, it is in my interest that the death penalty is banned in the US, right? It is in our interest because the Revolutionary Guards have been heard saying, well, the US also executes, right? So we have a common cause and we need to work together. And we have, you know, we have benefited from the support of the international human rights community, whether it’s on opposing the drug-related executions, and pushing for reform, which took place even though it was an insufficient reform, but several 1000 people were saved from being killed. So there needs to be more media attention to these cases, to the details of these cases. I mean, we publish the details when we have them and I think it’s by insisting on absurdities, for example, right now, a man, a German-Iranian, who was residing in the US and was on the path of becoming a citizen. He was kidnapped, he is a political activist, very opposed to the regime and, you know, with very harsh, anti-religious tone, he was kidnapped in Dubai, taken to Iran and sentenced to death. Well, his lawyer was never allowed in court and was never given access to his case file and his assigned lawyer, state-assigned lawyer tried to get money from the family, money they don’t have, to actually read the case file. So basically, no one has read the case file, not the people defending him, and nor the family nor anyone. So these are the details that should be out there, generalities don’t, are not as effective. Saying that Iran executes a lot of people is good, but it’s not enough. You know, it’s the devil is in the details and public opinion should be interested, should show interest in these individual cases, whether it’s the people who are killed for blasphemy, or people who are killed for drug related offenses, many of whom are actually poor people, you know, transporting drugs, if they are not victim of trumped up charges, transporting drugs that they don’t benefit from. The big, the big drug dealers and drug traffickers, pay bribes and get out if they are in Iran, a lot of them are not even in Iran. So there are many ways of giving visibility to these executions. But I think working together, NGOs working together, us, you know, working with the Americans to oppose the use of capital punishment in the US, and you working with us to oppose the use of capital punishment in Iran is effective. We have different ways of fighting, different ways of doing advocacy and I think we all can help each other learning from what the Pakistanis do, or what is happening in Bangladesh or in Malaysia. I mean, there is a lot that we can do together, but we also need the media and we don’t have enough media attention on on these death penalty cases and that, the media is public opinion and public opinion is pressure on politicians. So and we have done the same you know, we’ve tried to, to sensitize the Iranian public, which the Iranian public had no interest in these drug executions, drug related executions, or any, you know, maybe a political case would draw attention. But generally speaking, 10-15 years ago, we didn’t have enough attention. If people paid attention on social media, it was to fight each other. Oh, yes, this person is, you know, a separatist, no he’s not a separatist, this person is guilty. What if he had killed your mother or your sister? I mean, this was the depth of the discussion. And so it took several years, but the providing details and biographies and drawing attention on the lack of transparency of the courts, and the fact that we can’t even judge who is guilty or innocent, because we don’t know anything. Acknowledging that we don’t know anything about these cases is, was an important step and we see now that people oppose the death penalty there was, when there was a death sentence against three protesters, three of the 2019 protesters, and someone somewhere in Iran posted a hashtag, don’t execute. And then this hashtag took off, like fire in Canada recently. It’s really, I mean, I don’t know how many time this hashtag was used, but it was a shock that so many Iranians actually used the hashtags and it became an international hashtag. So things change, but you know, we have to be persistent and consistent, and not politicize this work and keep at the rule of law, and due process and the right to life, but not pick and choose the victims. And I think that we can get the populations with us if we focus on due process, and the fact because no culture condones killing innocents and I think that this is the most powerful tool we have in the advocacy against the death penalty, the death of innocents, and I think we can use it more effectively. Everyone, every group that is fighting the death penalty does use it, but I think maybe we have to find more creative ways of advocating the fact that you never know who is being executed. And obviously, it’s not effective in crime control, either. I mean, no one better than Iranian officials know that killing drug offenders doesn’t reduce trafficking or drug addiction, drug use, that they know and they say, some of the officials in the Revolutionary Guards, who are, you know, working on drugs, and some of the judges, some of the parliamentarians, whoever has knowledge will tell you that killing 1000s and 1000s of drug offenders has not affected the drug use in Iran or the trafficking. The media should be more interested in in these cases and I think that we all have to help each other in our mutual countries to be more effective. 

Anne Holsinger 33:41 

You touched a little bit on this, but I’d love to hear more about how criticism from the United States is viewed on an international scale regarding Iran’s executions. Is it viewed differently than criticism from countries that have abolished the death penalty? 

Roya Boroumand 33:57 

Well, I think Iranians will use that. I’m sure Saudis will also point at that. And that’s, that’s when due process and the rule of law becomes an issue, because then other countries also are saying, well, it’s a different situation, because there are some basic standards that are respected, that Iran doesn’t respect. But yes, I mean, for Iranian officials, it is different when they hear it from the US an important tool of foreign policy for the US is to actually ban capital punishment. Because then no, no countries that execute can say, well, one of the biggest democracies in the world also executes, so what’s the big deal? Right? And so I think the US will be in a much stronger moral position if they didn’t execute in the United States, and let’s face it, the United States doesn’t use capital punishment as such, I mean, the percentage of the territory that uses capital punishment is so small compared to the whole United States, and the number compared to the per capita number of executions, it’s just not worse the damage it does outside. You know, in countries where there is no due process, there is no transparency, and people are killed in the hundreds and in the 1000s, the US can be in a much stronger position to advocate for justice, if they didn’t use capital punishment, or they didn’t execute people. I always say that when US parliamentarians asked I don’t see them often, I don’t do a lot of advocacy here because I don’t see how much leverage they can have, but when Congress people ask me, How can we help? I say, you know abolish the death penalty, that you can help, abolish the death penalty here and then they look at me like, what? Like? And I say, yes, you want to help us, abolish the death penalty because then we can say no one, you know, in no democracy, they’re killing. At the end, there is this fight between countries with the rule of law and countries without the rule of law, right? A country where there is rule of law should not have executions. I mean, it’s just a basic thing that you cannot take lives because there is no way you won’t kill innocents for one, and it doesn’t work. And so, you know, you want to help us deny the killers in our countries, the excuse that the United States also kills. But it’s very simple, because in fact, most of the United States doesn’t execute the great majority of people in the United States, live in states that are not using the death penalty. And the impact of it is much bigger than any perceived benefits inside the United States and so it’s just basic math. It’s just not worth it, for the damage it does outside the United States, and, obviously, to the justice system in the United States, it’s just not worth it. There is no coming back. There is no fixing mistakes, when you kill an innocent and there is no way we are all fallible, and we are all human beings. We have, we make mistakes, we are tired, we are biased. We are ambitious. You know, all of these are qualities that lead to mistakes or facts of life that lead to mistakes, or to incompetence. I think that we have a common cause with Americans fighting against the death penalty, and we should have a common front. Everyone fighting the death penalty in the world will benefit from the US not executing and abolishing the death penalty, everyone. 

Anne Holsinger 38:38 

Looking to the future with the one year anniversary of Mahsa Jina Amini’s death approaching on September 16, what events do you foresee unfolding in Iran? And who do you think is at the highest risk for arrest and possible execution? 

Roya Boroumand 38:54 

I’m usually not very comfortable speculating about what’s going to happen. What I can tell you already, is that as the anniversary approaches, women’s rights activists have been arrested preventively and families of people who were killed in the streets last year or are arrested. The house of one of the protesters who were executed was raided. The lawyer of another one was detained today and so everyone obviously is at risk. If there are renewed protests, which I can’t really predict one way or another because I think with the massive arrests and persecution, people will think twice before leaving their homes and young people are determined and at the same time, some of them are thinking that maybe coming out and being arrested and eventually executed or being shot is not the most effective way of commemorating or pursuing the cause. So I don’t see clarity about what’s going to happen. But certainly there is like a strong determination that I have not seen before, especially among women, young women, very young women, to not go back to the status quo to the pre-protest status quo. A lot of these young women and girls are leaving their houses without the scarf on their head and they are mostly not arrested, right? I mean, they do make arrests when they find someone isolated, but in crowded places, and some, some of these girls are wearing tops that show their stomach. I mean, it’s surreal, in some sense, for me, who remember women having acid in their face, or cut with razors for wearing the scarf, because they weren’t wearing the scarf. And, and now seeing these girls and women or even the family members of the kids who are shot dead, saying we are not going back to the status quo. And so this determination is heartwarming, and at the same time concerning because that means, that means that more people are going to be hurt. But it’s just like a vicious circle, because the mechanism for change is not in place. The state does not allow any organized dissent. People cannot, are not allowed to run for office to change the laws. Political parties, any political party, but those that are approving of the Constitution, which is very discriminatory and basically undermining the rule of law, if you don’t agree with this constitution, or have a past political affiliation that they don’t like you can’t create a political party and run for office. If you can’t run for office, even if you run for office, and want to change the laws, you have like a Council of Guardians, and a spiritual leader, nominating six of the members of The Guardian Council, and then nominating the Chief Justice, who then nominates the six other members of The Guardian Council and they are vetting candidates. And they are, they have the power to block any law that they deem incompatible with Islam. So it’s just a dead end, the political space is completely closed and people are in the streets because they don’t know how else to express their discontent or to express demands to, to express their demands. So it becomes a vicious circle of people coming out because they can’t, they can’t stand it anymore, and then being killed and arrested and fired from their jobs and put in prison for a long time and see their family members harassed, and then they calm down. And then after a while, it starts over with a new generation and a new generation and, and then we have waves and waves of exiles, people who flee as long as the political space is closed. You know, last year protests, scores of security forces were also killed and it’s very unclear who killed who. We know some of these people were killed by friendly fire, but protesters were also angry and beating up on isolated security force members that they found. At the end of the day, the state is armed to the T’s and has our oil money and can buy, can buy support, and protesters basically have no one. And whoever tried to fight the state with arms was completely unregulated over the last decades, so I’m not, I don’t know what to tell you. I think that there is a lot of hope and it’s heartwarming to see that these newer generations are so stubborn and so determined to not give in and at the same time, as long as the mechanism for change is not in place, all they can do is to go out and get killed and draw the international community’s attention to their plight, which is what they’re doing. 

Anne Holsinger 45:03 

Thank you so much. Is there anything else you’d like to share with our listeners? 

Roya Boroumand 45:07 

Well, I would say that the foreign policy and the internal politics are not separated. For for a long time now, analysts and politicians have separated the two. But people who are killing people, their own people, have no qualms in killing their own people, will have no qualm killing other people. There is a strong relationship, interconnection between what happens inside Iran and what the Iranian leaders do outside Iran. And I think that as, as long as these two are considered as separate issues and discussed and negotiated separately, we will have what we have had in the last 40 years, the international community reacted to apartheid by asking the South African government to change the apartheid laws. These were the conditions for lifting the sanctions, for Iran, its terrorism, ballistic missiles, nuclear issues, it’s never, you know, I mean, we have targeted sanctions on individuals, but and it’s good symbolically it’s good. But I don’t know how effective it is to sanction these perpetrators, because they can issue to each other and to themselves and to their children, passports with different names. And these are real passports, right? Maybe the big judges and the big known characters will not be able to travel, but the rest of them can travel and have bank accounts under different names, and no one will know. So I think any negotiation with Iran should include both opening internal opening and improvements or less violence in foreign policy. I think these two should be discussed together and not separately, you know, like the US did in the Helsinki Accords with the Soviet Union, right? So it’s not unheard of. They did it for South Africa, and they did it with the Soviet Union. I think it would, they would be, it would be more effective for all of us if the opening inside and less violence inside the country was associated with the violence outside the country and negotiated or basically discussed, advocated together, not as separate entities. 

Anne Holsinger 47:55 

Thank you so much for joining us today. 

Roya Boroumand 47:57 

Thank you for your patience listening to me. 

Anne Holsinger 48:00 

If our listeners would like to learn more about the work of Abdorrahman Center, they can visit the website at And to learn more about the death penalty in the United States, they can visit the DPIC website at To make sure you never miss an episode of our podcast, you can subscribe to Discussions with DPIC on your podcast app of choice.