European Parliament conference: Yielding democracy for Iran

    146259680577.jpg By Rob Roberts
    European Parliament conference: Yielding democracy for Iran

    Dec 10,As part of International Human Rights’ Day 2016 (Saturday 10 Dec), accountable and honorable members of the European Parliament gathered in force on Weds 7th in Brussels, outlining a possible blueprint to halt continuing human rights’ violations in Iran.

    UK MEP Anthea McIntyre opened the meeting, before which a keynote was delivered by Maryam Rajavi, the president-elect of Iran’s main opposition coalition group NCRI (National Council of Resistance of Iran), who is a vocal advocate in the ongoing struggle to bring democracy to the Iranian people. She is also a staunch and unflinching opponent to president Rouhani.

    Speakers from broad political alliances addressed the MEP cohort, including EPP party members Anna Zaborska (Slovakia), Tunne Kelam (Estonia) and Heinz Backer (Austria). From France’s Green party came José Bové and who was joined by former foreign ministers Giulio Terzi (Italy) and Anna Fotyga (Poland).

    Also present was former European Parliament’s VP Alejo Vidal-Quadras, who is the current president of the International Committee in Search of Justice (ISJ). Mr. Vidal did not pull punches in his speech, hitting hard at the European External Action Service (EEAS) for its silence on tackling Iran’s deplorable human rights record, and for its complacency regarding last year's nuclear agreement (JCPOA) as a leverage to force Iran to end its belligerent and flagrant disregard for human life.Vidal-Quadras delivered his blow to the EEAS saying that on Iran-related diplomatic and security affairs, “its voice has weakened and sounded on too few occasions.”

    So, although the meeting was organized by the long-standing Friends of Iran group, the event was not a cliched opportunity to attack the brutal Iranian regime; it also drew attention to the inertia hitting Western democracies who strike deals with Iran in the post-JCPOA era.

    "No" to business as usual!
    UK MEP Richard Ashworth echoed Vidal-Quadras’ reproach, noting the need to avoid degrading Western countries' founding principles of democracy, rule of law and human rights. During a diplomatic visit by the EEAS’ Federica Mogherni to Iran, the regime hanged 10 prisoners and 3 women in Tehran; the EEAS remained silent about those human rights violations.
    UK MEP Lord Kirkhope expressed concern, saying that instead of standing up to the regime, our dewy-eyed democracies go about pursuing billions of euros in trade agreements. During the three-year tenure of Iranian president Hassan Rouhani, Kirkhope noted, the regime has condemned more people to death than in any other recorded period.

    In short, he concluded, the nuclear agreement has become an inert tool. In terms of bringing about a modicum of improved human rights and reform towards a secular justice system, a flagrant disregard for upholding the principle tenets of democracy has continued. This has occurred most clearly on the side of the regime, but amongst Western democracies who are in bed with the regime as well.

    McIntyre (UK) called for a closer look at the record of Rouhani. She lamented that by ignoring his actions we are actually bringing shame upon the free world, and that to continue doing business with the Iranian regime just legitimizes a machine composed of religious fundamentalists. McIntyre drew wide applause by saying that the NCRI’s Maryam Rajavi is “a woman of enormous dignity, resilience and strength” and a viable alternative to Iran's ruling theocracy.

    Combating a regime that is vicious to its own people
    Fotyga (Poland) said that renewed sanctions must be imposed upon Iran for its continued atrocities, paying short shrift also to the nuclear agreement too as it has not addressed the harm being done to Iranian society. Fotyga spoke from a position of experience in seeking independence in her home country of Poland. Although many did not survive to see a sovereign Polish state, she said, its neighbors and compatriots remember the compassion received from Iran during the oppression of the Second World War.

    She said that even when Western sanctions caused shortages of food items and other material goods, the citizens mostly supported international condemnation of the Polish communist state, knowing that it may have been the only way to squeeze the corrupt government.The voice of voiceless Iranian youth came from Shabnam Madadzadeh, 29, a former political prisoner who spent over 5 years in Iran’s notorious prisons. Having recently found safe passage to France from Iran, Madadzadeh saluted her fellow students who remain in Iran fighting vocally for their right to freedom. She also spoke about coming face to face with the true nature of the regime, which punishes those whose political or even religious beliefs deviate from that proscribed by its theocratic dogma.

    Doves and Hawks or a reality policy
    Kelam (Estonia) approached the issue through his experience of dealing with the Russian elite. Saying that it’s often the preference of a dictatorship to try to differentiate itself from the inside, making reference to the Iranian regime's presentation of Rouhani as a moderate opposed to the hardline Ahmadinejad. Yet, he noted, a dictatorship simply remains hungry.
    The solution Kelam called for is to implement a ‘reality policy’, and not to neglect a very important component in terms of Iran’s military expansion. Kelam is critical that Russia’s involvement in Syria comes in response to Iran, which laid the ground for this creeping fundamentalism.
    "Do we prefer to continue daydreaming?" asked the Estonian MEP. "Are we really expecting to conclude deals with dictators whose regime has not and cannot be changed? Well, our excuse has been that we have an obligation to deal with this regime, but it’s a delusion. And this results in betraying Europe and the people of Europe who hold dear the values of democracy."
    The alternative, he said, is a non-religious Iran based on equality, and one which renounces nuclear weapons in the broader interested of peace in the Middle East region. Kelam said that this is a policy the International Community must commit to.
    Fotyga picked up the the reality facing Western politicians, saying that the people and especially politicians must not forget atrocities. The Iranian regime’s crimes against humanity need to be subject to the criteria of a European justice system, she argued. Her comment was made partly to draw attention to the atrocities of the 1988 massacre of 30,000 dissident Iranian political prisoners by the regime, slaughtered in response to the Death Commission’s orders. Many of the architects of the massacre remain serving as high-ranking officials in Rouhani’s cabinet.

    Liberty, freedom and democracy in our gasp
    Speaking in support of the Dutch/Iranian friendship, Wim Van Der Kamp (Netherlands) was encouraged by the Iranian Resistance coalition’s achievements, calling it a tight force for bringing about democratic change in Iran. Doing so, Van Der Kamp said, means bringing the NCRI coalition to a more integrated position as a political voice in Europe’s narrative.

    Van Der Kamp commented on the recent safe extraction of members one of the NCRI coalition’s political group PMOI (People’s Mojahedin Organisation of Iran) from Iraq, from which they were relocated to Albania. The move came after 13 years of campaigning to remove them from constant threat and repression trapped in Camp Liberty and then Ashraf in Iraq.

    Now the fight's focus can shift, Van Der Kamp continued. With the Iranian Resistance group members having obtained relative safety, the narrative can change. Now, he said, it’s time for focusing on the fight for liberty, freedom and democracy for the people of Iran, the core values championed by the NCRI coalition group. And it’s a fight which he believes will be won sooner than we can imagine.

    This can only be achieved realistically through a ramping up and actioning of policy to hold individual members of the Iranian regime accountable for their warcrimes, as well as their complicity in Syria’s bloodshed spreading instability in the Middle East region, he argued. Yet this is also contingent on Western democracies' ending of the complicit silence on the Iranian regime’s ongoing use of daily brutality and capital punishment as a tool to repress its people.

    The  Oslo Times International News  Network


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