by Poorang Novak
Earlier this month, the inauguration ceremony for President Hassan Rouhani of Iran took place. This marked the start of his second term. There were officials from across the world in attendance, including Federica Mogherini, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, where she was a special guest.
There, as well as meeting President Rouhani, she met with Iran’s Foreign Minister - Javad Zarif, and the Supreme Leader’s Foreign Policy Advisor - Ali-Akbar Velayati.
Her attendance at the ceremony was shocking to many. As a representative to the EU, it sends a very worrying message to the international community that the EU will not press or question the Iranian regime for its belligerence in the region and its mistreatment of the people of Iran who are denied the most basic of human rights.
The EU supposedly has human rights “at the very heart of EU relations with other countries and regions” and claims to work “to promote the rights of women, children, minorities and displaced persons (…) opposing the death penalty, torture, human trafficking and discrimination, defending civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights”. However, there is no evidence of this in its treatment of Iran.
The people of Iran, and those working to give freedom back to the people of Iran, have repeatedly called on the EU to put pressure on the Iranian government. They have called on the EU to condition economic relations with Iran on an improvement in the human rights situation, but time and time again, the EU continues to favour trade.
For the past almost four decades, the people of Iran have been suffering at the hands of the leaders of their country. They have been subject to crackdown after crackdown which has been unrelenting, especially during the first term of Rouhani’s presidency.
Amnesty International has just released a new report about the situation in Iran and it highlights that human rights activists are in particular danger in Iran. For many years, activists have been arrested for their activities, usually on bogus charges. They are then left to suffer in prison where they are often tortured.
It is essential that the EU looks at reports like these and acts accordingly. The United States is putting pressure on the Iranian government and the EU needs to follow suit. If it really upholds human rights for everyone, it must prove this and stand shoulder to shoulder with the Iranian people who have been denied them for far too long.