The clerical regime’s plainclothes agents have destroyed the tombstone of Navid Afkari, Iran’s national wrestling champion, executed in September 2020 for participating in the 2018 major protests. This is a blatant move, showing that Tehran is willing to continue its human rights abuses.
A week prior to this incident, the regime executed Ruhollah Zam, an Iranian residing in France. Zam’s execution was widely condemned by Western policymakers, particularly European countries. But these countries, particularly France, had done little to prevent Zam’s execution.
In fact, Josep Borrell was scheduled to deliver a joint keynote speech at a business forum with the mullahs’ Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on December 12. This meeting was canceled at the last minute, due to Zam’s execution two days earlier. But the organizers of this event said they look forward to holding the conference in the near future. “European and Iranian policymakers continue to engage in the necessary dialogue to establish the appropriate conditions for effective economic diplomacy,” they added.
The regime received the message of such a weak response. Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani was the first to say that Zam’s execution will not affect Tehran’s relations with Europe. Zarif’s ministry felt safe to even “summon” ambassadors of several European countries, including France, and condemn their opposition to Zam’s execution.
While their diplomat-terrorist, Assadollah Assadi went on trial in Belgium for his attempted bombing of the opposition rally in 2018 in Paris, the mullahs’ foreign ministry’s spokesperson even went as far as warning the EU countries that their condemnation of Zam’s execution promotes “terrorism.”
On December 7, the EU adopted a global human rights sanctions regime, targeting “individuals, entities, and bodies – including state and non-state actors – responsible for, involved in or associated with serious human rights violations and abuses worldwide, no matter where they occurred.”
All the while, Mr. Borrell was about to promote dialogue and trade with the world’s top executioner per capita, which has committed perhaps the worst crime against humanity since the end of World War II.
In the summer of 1988, the regime executed over 30,000 political prisoners in a matter of few months. The regime buried victims secretly in mass graves. A newly published letter by seven UN experts described this massacre as “crimes against humanity.”
This letter underlined the failure of “international bodies” to address this crime, which has resulted in “impunity” for the perpetrators and pain for the family members of the victims. They called on the regime to investigate this massacre and if the regime fails to do so, these experts urge the “international community” to independently investigate it, “including through the establishment of an international investigation.”
After the Iranian Resistance’s “Justice Seeking Movement” attracted domestic and worldwide attention, the regime started destroying the mass graves, as it did in the case of Navid Afkari. With the new executions, the regime further confirms its decision to continue human rights violations and reject any investigation into the 1988 massacre.
When in 1988, the regime committed a systematic massacre, the international community ignored repeated calls by the Iranian Resistance to address this crime. Many Western policy makers spoke of a new era of “dialogue” with the so-called ‘reformist’ government of Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, who played a key role in the 1988 massacre.
Some 30 years have elapsed, the dialogue with the regime has had no effect on the overall human rights situation in Iran. In fact, mere condemnations and lack of a decisive action has provided Tehran with a sense of impunity.
Mr. Borrell on December 10 said: “When serious human rights violations happen, the EU must go beyond adopting resolutions and making statements – we must be able to act.”
But he refused to say if this would include Iran under the mullahs’ regime too?
Mr. Borrell claimed that human rights are “in the DNA of the European Union.” Then he asked if the EU countries “defend them in a world where, demonstrably, respect for human rights is in retreat?”
The answer, as far as it concerns Iran is no. As long as the EU and its leaders continue their “effective economic diplomacy” which is not contingent on an end to human rights violations in Iran, the regime will continue abusing human rights.
Mr. Borrell should know that delivering a keynote statement with Zarif, who defends human rights violations in Iran, will only make his own comments ridiculous.
Now it is time for the European Union to act in favor of human rights, which according to its foreign policy chief, is in its “DNA.”
They should sanction the regime, its chief apologist Zarif and hold the regime to account for its past and present crimes. This action indeed will be a decisive step toward restoring the EU’s dignity, which got lost when they ignored human rights violations in Iran.