The sanctioned Iranian foreign minister’s two-day visit to Sweden on Tuesday and Wednesday was met with massive protests by Iranian opposition supporters living in Sweden.
The protesters spoke out against the regime’s human rights violations, including murdering dissidents and suppressing women, rights activists and religious minorities. They criticised the Swedish government for allowing Javad Zarif to enter Sweden and demanded his immediate expulsion. They sought to amplify the voices of protesters in Iran who are largely ignored by the world’s media.
The protesters chanted:
However, the protesters were subjected to violence by the Swedish Police, with 50 protesters beaten up and arrested, including women’s rights activists, former political prisoners, and families of victims of the 1988 massacre. Frankly, this is all too similar to the suppression of protesters in Iran.
Juxtaposed with Sweden welcoming the murderous Zarif as a guest, this is all the more appalling.
In an interview with the state-run Iranian Press TV on Wednesday, Zarif threatened the protesters with murders, saying that if they were caught by the regime’s agents “they would not stay alive for a minute.”
These protests still scared Zarif enough to pull out of a joint press conference with Swedish Foreign Minister, Margot Wallström.
Wallström was then left to justify her meeting with Zarif, who was sanctioned by the US Treasury Department last month for being “just as complicit in the regime’s outlaw behaviour as the rest of [Supreme Leader Ali] Khamenei’s mafia”.
She condemned the regime for its record of human rights abuses and insisted that the regime must comply with all its nuclear deal obligations and release the British-flagged oil tanker, Stena Impero.
But don’t Zarif’s threats indicate how the regime treats its prisoners, without any indication of a behaviour change to come? He emboldens the regime to take part in terrorism, murder and warmongering, in complete antithesis to the wishes of the Iranian people.
Speaking at the Free Iran conference in July, Kenneth Lewis, a Swedish jurist and former member of parliament, said: “Our Foreign Minister last year visited Tehran. A foreign minister, a woman who represents a feminist foreign policy, goes to Iran to sell trucks and construction equipment and even puts on a chador... A country like Sweden who claims that they are defending human rights is more interested in selling their trucks and don’t care really about human rights when it comes down to the final analysis.”