The execution of Dutch-Iranian citizen Zahra Bahrami was firmly condemned by Parliament in a resolution voted on Thursday. Future EU relations with Iran – including possible further sanctions – should focus not only on the nuclear dispute but also on human rights abuses since the 2009 presidential elections, they added.
Firmly condemning the execution of Dutch-Iranian national Zahra Bahrami in Tehran on 29 January, MEPs are “dismayed that the Iranian authorities denied consular access to Ms Bahrami and did not ensure a transparent and fair judicial process”, says the resolution, drafted by Bastiaan Belder (EFD, NL). MEPs also call on EU Foreign Affairs High Representative Catherine Ashton to raise the cases of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani and Zahra Bahrami with the Iranian authorities.
MEPs believe that the time has come for the EU to devise a new, broader, strategy towards Iran, which goes beyond the nuclear issue and addresses Iran’s human rights record and regional role, say MEPs, who call on EU foreign ministers to impose sanctions targeting Iranian officials responsible for serious human rights abuses since the disputed presidential election of June 2009, in line with similar measures taken by the USA last September.
Iranian nuclear threat
Given Iran’s continuing refusal to co-operate with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), MEPs consider that “additional sanctions have become the logical consequence”. However, they also wish to ensure that Ms Ashton assesses the impact and effectiveness of all EU restrictive measures, in order to prevent Iran from evading the sanctions. Sanctions are meant to hit the blacklisted officials, not the Iranian population as a whole, they warn.
Death penalty: a sad record
Parliament regrets that the number of executions in Iran in 2009 was the highest in the past ten years, making Iran the country with the highest number of executions per capita in the world. They call on the government to impose a moratorium on these executions and also to abolish the execution of minors under 18 years old.
MEPs note the popular discontent that followed the 2009 presidential elections and the Iranian people’s growing aspirations for democratic change. Iran’s domestic problems continue to deteriorate, despite burgeoning oil prices, say MEPs, while President Ahmadinejad continues to embrace a radical anti-Western, anti-Israel agenda, they say.
MEPs are also concerned that the growing military, political and economic role of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps in Iranian society is fuelling fears of a further militarization of the state, which in turn could lead to an escalation of violence and oppression of political opposition.