18 September 2013 - Brussels - The AJC Transatlantic Institute called on the European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Iran to halt plans for a visit to Tehran this fall. At today’s delegation meeting, Chair Tarja Cronberg (Greens/EFA, Finland) announced her intention to organise a visit to Iran as early as October 25th. A previously planned delegation visit in early May was cancelled at the last minute, reportedly due to scheduling difficulties.
“It is rather disappointing that Cronberg is willing to, once again, participate in this game,” said Daniel Schwammenthal, Director of the AJC Transatlantic Institute in Brussels. “Her last attempt at an official visit was met with strong and vocal opposition due to Tehran’s egregious disregard for human rights. Since then, the Iranian government may have changed, but not its policies.”
Iran’s human rights record has shown no improvement since the election of Hassan Rouhani. Executions, arbitrary arrests and torture continue. Upon taking office in the beginning of August, Rouhani appointed Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi as Justice Minister, a man Human Rights Watch nicknamed “Minister of Murder” for his “direct role in the extrajudicial executions of thousands of political prisoners.”
Continuing his predecessor’s policy, Rouhani’s new government just rejected another request by Ahmed Shaheed, the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Iran, to visit the country.
“Iran is clearly only interested in talking with people who won’t criticise their human rights record and agree to meet only with preselected regime representatives,” noted Schwammenthal. “Is that the kind of ‘dialogue’ Ms. Cronberg has in mind?” During today’s delegation meeting, the Iranian Ambassador to the EU stated that the delegation would only be permitted to meet with parliamentarians.
“Rather than shining a spotlight on the victims of the Iranian regime and giving them a voice, any official visit by European Parliamentarians will be exploited by Tehran as a propaganda victory,” said Schwammenthal.
In December 2012, the European Parliament awarded the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought to Iranian lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh and filmmaker Jafar Panahi. A planned parliamentary visit to Iran in October of that year was cancelled when authorities in Tehran refused to allow MEPs to meet with the Sakharov Prize winners.
Furthermore, the AJC Transatlantic Institute revealed that the draft itinerary for the MEPs included a meeting with Mohammad Javad Larijani, who is sanctioned by the EU for human rights violations.