European Opportunity to Address Human Rights in Iran

These killings last week bring to mind the massacre of  28 years ago when 30,000 political prisoners were killed in August 1988. The perpetrators have not yet been brought to justice. 

Azimfar says, “The prisoners were killed arbitrarily without a trial while some had already ended their prison terms. On the anniversary of the 1988 massacre, Iranians affiliated with the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) planned 3-day hunger strikes in several European countries including UK, Germany, Holland, Sweden and Norway to call for an end to executions in Iran.”

The human rights situation in Iran is deteriorating.  According to Azimfar , “The regime has decided to brutally silence any voice of opposition to safeguard its grip on power. Mullahs know very well that they are facing an extremely discontented and explosive society and for them execution is a means of terrorizing people to keep their mouths shut. Of course they hide their crimes under the banner of Islam but today it is very clear that their brutality has nothing to do with Islam.”

There seems to be no remorse.  Mohammad-JavadLarijani, Secretary of Iran’s Human Rights Staff, who represents Iran in Sessions of the UN Human Rights Council, wrote to the High Commissioner for Human Rights on August 7, criticizing him for his condemnation of recent executions in Iran.  The letter read, “Death Penalty is not a human rights issue. Rather, it is an issue related to the judicial and penal system and it is a tool for prevention of very serious crimes.” He further added: “This is the right of every state to choose its own judiciary, penal, legal, economic, political and social systems without other states’ interfering with it.”

As reported by Tasnim News Agency on August 3, his brother, Sadeq Larijani, Head of Iran’s Judiciary, declared that “the Iranian foreign ministry may start a mutual negotiations on human rights issues with European states if and only if they accept criticisms of the Iranian regime on issues like arrest.”

Azimfar  says, “Surely, this regime is nowhere near the point it can be negotiated with on human rights issues. To negotiate on human rights subject with a regime which over the past 37 years has halted death penalty under no circumstances, has had over 120,000 political executions and only under its so-called moderate president has executed more than 2500 people, would definitely send a weak signal to Tehran that it can go on with the killings with no objection from Europe. It is appropriate to note that hangings went on in Iran even on the days when the EU High Representative Federica Mogherini and the Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi visited Iran in April 2016.”

In the face of human rights and democracy issues, Europe should take the opportunity, in the coming Session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva in September 2016, to denounce the executions in Iran and to pre-condition any negotiations or relations with Iran to an immediate end to executions.  It would also be a good time for the UN Security Council to investigate the 1988 massacre, which has gone unpunished crime for too long.