The European Parliament has passed a resolution denouncing gross human rights abuses in Iran and calling for the unconditional release of political prisoners, including the Swedish-Iranian doctor Ahmad Reza Jalali and human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh.
Members of the European Parliament voted on Thursday in favor of the motion, which was prompted by a string of incidents in the past 13 months.
Among them is the continued detention of Nasrin Sotoudeh, who was recalled to Qarchak Prison on December 2 to continue serving a 33-year custodial sentence for her work defending civil activists in Iran. Her ongoing arbitrary imprisonment, MEPs said, could have “life-threatening consequences” and came as part of an “intensified crackdown” on women’s rights defenders in Iran, while her family and supporters had also been harassed and targeted with the aim of silencing them.
The resolution also demanded Iranian authorities immediately halt the planned execution of Swedish-Iranian academic Ahmad Reza Jalali, who has been detained in Iran since 2016 and faces the death penalty. It also asks for all charges to be dropped against imprisoned European-Iranian dual nationals Fariba Adelkhah, Nahid Taghavi, Kameel Ahmady, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, Kamran Ghaderi, Massoud Mossaheb and Morad Tahbaz.
The recent executions of dissident reporter Ruhollah Zam on December 12, 2020 and wrestler Navid Afkari on September 12, 2020 were also strongly condemned in the resolution. Since the November 2019 protests, MEPs said, “the use of death sentences against protesters has been increasing, with a pattern of so-called confessions extracted under torture, after which protesters are executed without their lawyers or family members being informed”.
The motion also pointed to a worrying trend in Iran of denying prisoners access to medical care, as a form of punishment or coercion, in prisons where conditions are already known to be “inhuman and degrading”. This, MEPs pointed out, also contravenes the UN’s Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners.
The Iranian regime was also called on to address systemic discrimination against religious and ethnic minorities, and castigated for recent crackdowns on freedom of expression, the use of the death penalty “as a weapon for political repression”, amputations, floggings and other “cruel and inhuman punishments”, and mass surveillance and censorship, particularly in the aftermath of November 2019.
The motion calls for a United Nations-led inquiry into the brutal suppression of Iranian citizens by the regime during and after the November 2019 protests, when hundreds of people are thought to have died. It also demands targeted EU measures – known as Magnitsky sanctions – aagainst Iranian officials who have committed serious human rights violations. These include those involved in the deaths of Ruhollah Zam and Navid Afkari, as well as those involved in gross human rights abuses such as Iran’s pro-regime “hanging judges”. If the Iranian authorities do not release Ahmad Reza Jalali, it said, “further targeted sanctions will be necessary”.
The text was approved by 614 votes in favour, 12 against and 63 abstentions and has been sent to the Iranian parliament and the offices of President Hassan Rouhani and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.