close button
Switch to Iranwire Light?
It looks like you’re having trouble loading the content on this page. Switch to Iranwire Light instead.
switch sites
Features

Swedish Politicians Stand Together to Demand Iranian Protesters' Release

September 11, 2020
Hannah Somerville
4 min read
Eleven Swedish parliamentarians have put their names to an urgent petition for the release of imprisoned protesters in Iran
Eleven Swedish parliamentarians have put their names to an urgent petition for the release of imprisoned protesters in Iran
Azadeh Rohan Gustaffson, of the Social Democratic Party is one of the signatories and said the situation is now "critical"
Azadeh Rohan Gustaffson, of the Social Democratic Party is one of the signatories and said the situation is now "critical"
The politicians called for the immediate release of Navid Afkari and his brothers as well as other Iranian protesters and human rights defenders
The politicians called for the immediate release of Navid Afkari and his brothers as well as other Iranian protesters and human rights defenders
The call was prompted by the publication on September 2 of a horrific report by Amnesty International on the torture of demonstrators in Iran
The call was prompted by the publication on September 2 of a horrific report by Amnesty International on the torture of demonstrators in Iran
Kenneth Forslund, chair of the Swedish parliament’s Foreign Committee, told IranWire: "We get the impression that the Iranians are listening to us"
Kenneth Forslund, chair of the Swedish parliament’s Foreign Committee, told IranWire: "We get the impression that the Iranians are listening to us"

Swedish politicians from different parliamentary factions have joined forces to demand the Islamic Republic of Iran release the political prisoners it has detained since November 2019.

Prompted by the recent headlines about the death sentencing of Iranian wrestler Navid Afkari, as well as Amnesty International’s latest damning report on the torture of protesters in Iran, eleven members of the Swedish Riksdag have launched a petition calling for urgent intervention.

The signatories hail from Sweden’s Liberal, Centre and Social Democratic Parties, which disagree on many policy issues including toward Iran on matter such as nuclear sanctions. But these politicians have set aside their differences to call for both Sweden and the European Union to act “immediately” to block the impending execution of Afkari and others.

“We demand that Iran immediately release the political prisoners detained in connection with the recent protests,” they wrote in a joint article.

“To name a few: Amirhossein Moradi, Mohammad Rajabi, Saeed Tamjidi and the three brothers Navid, Vahid and Habib Afkari who were all sentenced to inhumane punishment for participating in peaceful protests.” The group also named human rights advocates Nasrin Sotoudeh and Narges Mohammadi, and student Ali Younesi, whose brother lives in Sweden.

“This is serious,” they added. “Navid Afkari risks execution any day now: Sweden and the EU must act immediately to stop this.”

On Wednesday, September 2, Amnesty International released a horrific new report on the torture of individuals detained in connection with the November 2019 protests. Protesters have been subjected to electric shocks, lashes, sham executions, sham drownings and sexual violence in Iran’s sprawling detention center system. Many have been forced to give torture-induced false confessions and some, like Afkari and Moradi, have been sentenced to death as a consequence.

The Swedish parliamentarians first published their petition in Goteborgs-Posten, the third largest morning paper in Sweden, before having it translated to English. Azadeh Rohan Gustaffson, of the Social Democratic Party, told IranWire: “Sweden and officials at the EU must take a more harsh stance towards the Iranian authorities. The situation of these people is critical.”

Kenneth Forslund, chair of the Swedish parliament’s Foreign Committee, told IranWire that in his 18-year tenure in parliament, Swedish officials had been “extremely critical” of Iran’s human rights abuses and in some instances successfully argued for the release of political prisoners. “The most frosty meetings I have attended have been with the Iranians,” he said.

“We want to help them into the global community and to get more normalised. We get the impression that they are listening to us, although we argue heavily with each other when it comes to the human rights situation, the use of the death penalty and the horrible way it’s carried out in Iran. There are other releases we have managed to negotiate.”

At present just one Swedish citizen, the doctor and dual national Ahmad Reza Jalali, is known to be imprisoned  in Iran. Jalali was arrested in Iran in 2015 and sentenced to death in October 2017 in connection with the assassination four Iranian nuclear scientists between 2010 and 2012. He has always maintained his innocence, and colleagues around the world are worried about his worsening health behind bars.

Kerstin Lundgren, a Centre Party member and the current Third Deputy Speaker of the Riksdag, who sits on the parliament’s human rights committee, said Sweden had been putting pressure on Iran not to execute Ahmad Reza Jalali. She told IranWire: “The death penalty in Iran is one of the worst. We have been protesting, sending letters and asking for the release of political prisoners.

“Now is the time to join forces and push back against the abuse. We want to make sure that Sweden and the EU does this: when the prime minister sits with Javad Sharif, she should bring it up. And if Iran doesn’t want to lose even more, they should listen.”

Torture and kidnapping are internationally-recognized crimes against humanity and Lundgren told IranWire she had not lost hope that after 40 years, the architects of these crimes in the Islamic Republic might one day stand trial themselves. “The evidence is there and it must be used. One day I hope we will bring justice for all those who have been killed, and all those people who have been tortured, and all those crimes that are ongoing. The perpetrators should not just be sanctioned – they should face their actions in court.”

 

Related coverage:

Reports of Torture and Rape in Over-Crowded Prison

Torture, Forced Confessions and Death Sentences for Five Iranian Protesters

Imprisoned Elite Students Under Pressure to Confess on Iranian Television

Fresh Information Surfaces on the Nightmarish Trial of Three Young Protesters

Three Imprisoned Brothers Beaten and Denied Medical Help

comments

Fact Checking

Fact Check: Are Charlie Hebdo's Cartoons a Zionist Conspiracy?

September 11, 2020
IranWire
8 min read
Fact Check: Are Charlie Hebdo's Cartoons a Zionist Conspiracy?