In the past two weeks, two significant developments happened in Europe, either directly or indirectly, concerning Iran. First was the trial of Iran’s incarcerated diplomat terrorist Assadollah Assadi and his three other accomplices in Belgium. Secondly, the European Union adopted a global human rights sanctions regime. Now, what should the EU’s policy towards Iran be after these two developments?
November 27 and December 3 marked the historic trial of the Iranian regime’s diplomat terrorist Assadi and his three accomplices, Nasimeh Naami, Amir Sadouni, and Mehrdad Arefani. Under Assadi’s command and at the behest of the regime, the terrorist cell attempted to bomb the Iranian Resistance’s annual “Free Iran” gathering in Paris on June 30, 2018. All four were arrested in the midst of their operation. Naami and her husband Sadouni were arrested in Belgium while having 500 grams of TATP explosives and a detonator in their possession.
Assadi had previously used his diplomatic passport to transfer the explosives from Iran to Austria, where he worked as the third secretary of the regime’s embassy. On June 28, Assadi handed the bomb to Naami and Sadouni in Luxembourg.
During Assadi’s trial in Antwerp, Belgium, the prosecutors underlined that Assadi was acting on Tehran’s direct orders. All the evidence proved Assadi to be an official of the regime’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS). In fact, following Assadi’s arrest, the EU imposed sanctions on him and MOIS’s Section 312.
Sadouni, Naami, and Arefani all held Belgian nationality and previously lived in Belgium as political refugees. But all three were collecting information about the Iranian Resistance for the regime and were on the MOIS payroll. Belgian authorities found nearly 240,000 euros in Naami and Sadouni’s account and house, and around 100,000 euros in Arefani’s account.
The trial showed how the regime had used its diplomatic privileges and the EU’s policy of appeasement to pursue its terrorism in Europe.
EU new human rights sanctions regime
On December 7, the EU adopted a decision and a regulation establishing a global human rights sanctions regime. “For the first time, the EU is equipping itself with a framework that will allow it to target 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,” read the EU’s announcement.
Two days later, the United Nations made public a letter by seven of its Special Rapporteurs on the 1988 massacre of political prisoners in Iran. The letter, dated September 3, 2020, said the 1988 massacre could amount to “crimes against humanity.”
The letter called on the regime to prosecute the perpetrators of the 1988 massacre. It added that if Tehran continues to refuse to uphold its obligations under international human rights law, the UN experts call on the international community to launch its investigation into the massacre “including through the establishment of an international investigation.”
In the summer of 1988, the Iranian regime executed over 30,000 political prisoners, mostly members and supporters of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK).
The failure of the international community, particularly the EU, in holding the regime to account for this crime against humanity has emboldened the regime to continue its human rights violations inside Iran. These human rights abuses have not been limited to Iran, and the foiled bomb plot in 2018 in Paris, plus countless political assassinations abroad, are testaments to this fact.
The EU has always prioritized its economic interests over human rights values, which are verbally cherished by EU member states. European citizens have been suffering from terrorism for years now.
So, what should be the EU’s response to this? How should the European countries respond to human rights violations in Iran which contradicts their values? How should they react to the regime’s terrorism, while their intelligence services have repeatedly reported that the regime’s embassies are centers of espionage and operations against dissidents, especially the PMOI? Why is the EU opposing the arms embargo on the regime while the mullahs tried to bomb a peaceful gathering in France? Finally, what should these countries do?
For years, the Iranian Resistance has demanded that EU countries expel the Iranian regime’s agents from European soil and shut down the regime’s embassies in all EU member states. Additionally, they should designate the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), MOIS and the mullahs’ terrorist proxies in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen as terrorist groups.
The EU should lead an international effort to compel the UN to conduct an independent international investigation into the 1988 massacre and the slaughter of more than 1,500 protesters by the regime during the November 2019 uprising.
The EU should make all its economic and political relations with Iran contingent on an end to human rights violations and support for terrorism by the regime. Most importantly, the EU should recognize the Iranian people’s right to Resistance and overthrow of the religious fascism.