NewsSpecial WireEuropean Parliament censures Iran’s human rights abuses

European Parliament censures Iran’s human rights abuses

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Iran Focus: London, Feb. 01 – The European Parliament (EP) on Thursday adopted a strongly-worded resolution denouncing human rights violations in Iran.
Iran Focus

London, Feb. 01 – The European Parliament (EP) on Thursday adopted a strongly-worded resolution denouncing human rights violations in Iran.

The European Parliament expressed “deep concern over the deterioration of the human rights situation in Iran during recent years”, according to the resolution which was adopted by 561 votes to 52 with 44 abstentions. It “strongly condemns the death sentences and executions in Iran, in particular those imposed or carried out on juvenile offenders and minors”.

The EP said that the exercise of civil rights and political freedoms has deteriorated in Iran in the last two years, notably since Mahmoud Ahmadinejad took office in June 2005.

“The number of executions in Iran, including those of minors, often by public hanging, has dramatically increased in recent years and in particular during the last few months”, the EP said. “There have been confirmed instances of executions, often carried out in public by hanging or stoning, torture and ill-treatment of prisoners, the systematic and arbitrary use of prolonged solitary confinement, clandestine detention, the application of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment, including flogging and amputations, and impunity for human rights violations”.

The EP also accused the Iranian regime of increasing “violent repression against political opponents, human rights defenders, journalists, web loggers, teachers, intellectuals, women, students, trade unionists, and persons belonging to religious, ethnic, linguistic or other minorities”.

It urged Iranian authorities to “eliminate, in law and in practice, all forms of torture”.

On the issue of Tehran’s nuclear standoff with the UN Security Council, the EP said that the “proliferation risks of the Iranian nuclear programme remain a source of serious concern to the EU and the international community, as expressed very clearly in UNSC Resolutions 1696 (2006), 1737 (2006), and 1747 (2007); therefore regrets that Iran has still not complied with its international obligations to suspend all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities”.

The EP also welcomed the agreement reached at a meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the UNSC’s permanent members and Germany, as well as EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, in Berlin on 22 January 2008 on a new draft sanctions resolution on Iran which foresees further measures.

The EP resolution also backed two recent court judgements in the EU calling for the main Iranian opposition group to be removed from the EU and UK’s terrorist blacklists.

The EP “takes note of the decision of the British Proscribed Organisations Appeal Commission of 30 November 2007 calling on the UK Home Secretary to remove the People´s Mojahedin Organisation of Iran (PMOI) from the list of proscribed organisations immediately”. It “notes the judgment of the Court of First Instance of the European Communities of 12 December 2006”.

The PMOI was banned in the UK by then-Home Secretary Jack Straw MP in 2001. The British ban was used as the basis of the group’s inclusion in the European Union’s terrorist list in mid-2002, in what the EU’s then-Spanish leadership called “a goodwill gesture to Tehran”.

In December 2006, the Court of First Instance annulled the EU’s decision to place the group in the list and described the freeze on its financial assets as “unlawful”. In a controversial move, however, the EU announced in June 2007 that it would maintain the group in the blacklist.

In the UK, the Proscribed Organisations Appeal Commission (POAC) handed down a judgement on 30 November describing the continued ban on the PMOI as “perverse” and ordering its lifting. The UK has thus far refused to implement the court ruling.

Prior to the vote, on Wednesday, Euro-MPs debated the situation in Iran after hearing a statement from Solana and European Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner.

Michael Gahler (DE) from the majority EPP-ED group stressed the EP’s longstanding firm stance against executions and torture and named a number of Iranian activists facing death sentences, calling for executions not to be carried out.

Philip Claeys (NI, BE) stressed that the regime in “Iran is and remains a threat to stability in the Middle East as a whole and for other parts of the world”. Iran should be isolated in the region, including from Russia, he said. Iran’s involvement in international Islamic terrorism was proven and “it would be wrong to reduce the pressure on the Iranian president”.

Struan Stevenson, a Scottish Euro-MP from the EPP-ED group, questioned if “we are training their nuclear physicists in our universities? Are we, at our taxpayers’ expense, paying for poverty relief in one of the richest oil-producing nations in the world because they have chosen to spend billions on a nuclear weapons programme? What has our policy of appeasement achieved?”

Stevenson said, “23 people were executed in the first two weeks of this year, including several women. Five people had their hands or feet amputated. Men and women continue to be stoned to death by this Jihadist, misogynous, homophobic, genocidal, brutal regime which is a world sponsor of terror. … If we wish really to support Iranian students, we should support the brave students of Tehran University, who have been demonstrating for the past five days, demanding regime change. Instead of backing appeasement, we should back the legitimate Iranian opposition. Instead of keeping the PMOI on our terror list, we should put the revolutionary guards of Iran on the EU terror list”.

Charles Tannock (EPP-ED, London) said, “Iran remains a danger to the stability of the world and the Middle East. Iranian Jihadis are fighting alongside terrorists in Iraq, killing British soldiers. Iran’s judges routinely pass death sentences on homosexuals and teenagers”.

Our message must be clear and uncompromising, Tannock stated – “Iran will not be allowed by the international community to arm itself with nuclear weapons”.

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