Hundreds of members of the European Parliament have strongly condemned human rights violations by the Iranian government. According to Amnesty International, “Iran alone accounted for 55% of all recorded executions” in the world in 2016. They also called for the blacklisting of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) involved in multiple regional conflicts.
The list of 265 parliamentarians represents a wide array of political tendencies and groups and comes as popular resentment builds toward the ruling clerics’ political establishment in the context of a renewed focus on the 1988 massacre of thousands of political dissidents.
In a joint statement issued on Monday by Gérard Deprez, Chair of the Friends of a Free Iran in the European Parliament, the MEPs blasted Tehran for its abysmal human rights record, saying that the situation has worsened under Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani. During Rouhani’s first four years, the parliamentarians said, Iran had the highest number of executions per capita in the world, with a staggering nearly 3,000 hangings.
The MEPs in Brussels added Rouhani’s minister of justice is a self-confessed murderer who was a member of the Death Committee, ordering the execution of over 30,000 political prisoners in 1988, mostly from the main opposition People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK). The parliamentarians issued a call for “the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Human Rights Council to set up a commission of inquiry to investigate the 1988 massacre of political prisoners in Iran.”
European governments must make ties to Iran contingent on a halt to executions and a “clear progress on human rights and women’s rights,” they said.
The MEPs, including 4 vice presidents and 23 committee and delegation chairs, also underscored the ruling clerics and mullahs’ destructive regional role, urging the blacklisting of the IRGC with its prominent role in deadly and prolonged conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Yemen. A previous statement shed light on women rights in Iran, elections, executions of minors and IRGC activities: “We are extremely worried about the high number of executions in Iran. More than 3000 people have been hanged during the first term of the ‘moderate’ President Hassan Rouhani ....Iran also remains a leading executioner of prisoners who were under the age of 18 at the time of their arrest. In a public speech on Iranian television, Rouhani described executions as “a good law” and “the law of God!” He also openly expressed full support for Bashar Assad even after the chemical attack in April which killed many people, including children. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) that controls most of the Iranian economy is involved in both internal suppression and spreading death and destruction in the rest of the region. According to Iranian regime’s laws, women are banned from becoming President and pursuing leadership positions in the judiciary and many other areas. Women are repressed for improper veiling and many women activists are sentenced to longterm imprisonment. Girls as young as nine can be married even to their stepfathers. Recently revealed evidence by a senior cleric inside Iran confirmed that the current Iranian Justice Minister was a key member of the so called “Death Committee” that approved the summary mass executions of over 30,000 political prisoners, including several thousand women, in Iran in the summer of 1988 – a massacre which Amnesty International has described as a crime against humanity. Most of the victims were affiliated with the opposition PMOI. We therefore call on the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the UN Human Rights Council, to set up a commission of inquiry on the 1988 massacre of political prisoners in Iran. The elections in Iran are not free and fair. Opposition is banned. All candidates have to declare their heartfelt belief to the concept of supreme clerical rule. An unelected body named the ‘Guardian Council’, whose members are appointed by supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei, disqualifies most of the candidates.”
MEP Gérard Deprez, President of the parliamentary group Friends of a Free Iran, said, “In order to express our solidarity with the Iranian democratic opposition, I will attend the Free Iran gathering in Paris on 1 July where I will present the support of 265 members of the European Parliament for this joint declaration.” He added “Also, we are very much concerned by the destructive role of the Iranian regime in the region. Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) is mainly active in Syria and Iraq and must be put on the international black lists. IRGC also runs most of Iranian economy. So our European companies who want to sign economic deals with Iran, take a high risk of dealing directly and indirectly with IRGC which is really a terrorist organization.”
The strongly-worded declaration urges “the EU and the European Member States, the US and the UN to condemn human rights violations in Iran, blacklist the IRGC and call for those who were involved in crimes against humanity to be brought to international tribunals.”
This is a robust move to stand up and speak out for universal human rights, women rights, peace and justice.
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Harvard-educated, Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a world-renowned businessman, a leading Iranian-American political scientist, president of the International American Council on the Middle East, and best-selling author. He serves on the advisory board of Harvard International Review.
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