Brussels – 7 February 2018
Gérard Deprez, MEP, Belgium, FOFI Chair:
In the face of the demonstrations that have shaken Iran as a whole, the mullahs' regime reacted with unacceptable brutality. The Government arrested thousands of protesters. A strong reaction from the European Union needed. In addition, I regret to say that this reaction did not live up to what is expected of the European Union. It was not until January 3, four days after Mr. Trump, that Ms. Mogherini made no difference between the Iranian regime's torturers and their victims and merely called - I quote – ‘all parties’, I repeat ‘all parties’, to abstain from violence!
He added: “I think the European Union must urgently correct its shortcomings. We must express our full solidarity with the people of Iran, so they would get a message that we are on their side. The regime’s officials including the so-called supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, have blamed the PMOI, for leading the protests and have talked about executing members of this opposition movement. This shows how much the regime is afraid of the movement under the leadership of Mrs. Rajavi. However, it also makes us very worried and reminds of the brutally with which they repressed the opposition, as in 1988 when 30,000 political prisoners were executed and the world was silent. This time we can no longer be silent.
Deprez reiterated that the EU must send this strong message to the Iranian regime that we will not tolerate the execution of even one protester. Otherwise, we should impose sanctions to make sure that the mullahs understand that for continuing the repression and executions, they will have to pay a heavy price.
Jozo Radoš, MEP, Croatia:
Around 8000 are estimated to have been detained during the protest, after more than 50 people have been killed on the streets. Now, more than 10 people have died during the tortures in the prisons.
The Iranian regime continues to talk about executions. We also, remember the summer of 1988 when 30,000 political prisoners were executed and the international community did not say much. This time we should not be silent and we need to make it clear to our own governments and to the European Union that the human rights in Iran cannot be compromised or to be put on the sidelines with the excuse of political considerations or the nuclear deal. As you know, the regime has been forced to admit about the role of the opposition in this uprising. Rouhani even telephoned President Macron to stop PMOI and the leadership of the Iranian opposition who are in France.
Beatriz Becerra, MEP, Spain
Women in Iran have demonstrated tremendous courage, and they are encouraging others not to fear and to carry on, inviting everyone to join the protests. The headline of an article by the independent Women’s Forum says it all: “Women are the face of the protests in Iran”. “The most striking images coming out of the Iran protests are not of men – they are of women!” reads another headline. The deputy commander of the Revolutionary Guards on 27 January said, “There were several middle-aged women among the arrested protesters”. Now, the main chain of provocation and starting the protests were women.
Tunne Kelam, MEP, Estonia:
We know that no dictatorship can last. And it is high time, before the Iranian dictatorship can celebrate 40 years of existence, that we see a change. It's high time for the change because it's obvious we can’t ignore this serious self-sacrificing message of the Iranian people, a great majority are not satisfied. They demand a change of regime. We need to have solidarity with them. It’s our responsibility. Because if the European Union had taken a clearer stand, much more demanding conditions, I think the regime would not be here today.
We continue our fight, we continue to stand with the Iranian people.
Patrizia Toia, MEP, Italy:
As done many times during the process of MEP, I am here to testify my support to the Friends of a free Iran and to your cause and to your objectives. I am convinced that in human rights, we have to be together, and we have to show our support to the persons that now are in prison and are condemned to death, in Iran. And we cannot be “not sufficiently” together with them.
We cannot undermine the necessity to recognize the facts that things that are now happening in Iran are bad, and we should stand together and have a clear position, even public on the necessity to denounce the violation of human rights in Iran.
I always want to express my support and I will continue to do so. Even if one has to recognize the necessity of economic relations with Iran for the development of the society, we cannot deny or even not recognize the necessity to stand together with these people in Iran.
Mark Demesmaeker, MEP, Belgium:
I’m quite sure that this uprising is not over and it will continue indeed because the basic reasons why it emerged in the first place are still there. Young people took action for freedom and their blood flowed in the streets and we need international action to help those still in prison, the detainees. Let's not forget, 12 of them already died under torture and senior government officials are talking about executions.
So our attention in the first place should be for them. And apart from protesters that the regime is repressing and may begin to execute, the government continues with executions of non-political prisoners as before. May I ask your attention for one particular man, an Iranian-Swedish medical doctor whom we know in our country Belgium as well, because he was a visiting professor at our university in Brussels. Ahmadreza Djalali was arrested while visiting his homeland in April 2016. The convicted him of “spying” and want to execute him. It is very clear this is an anti-human regime with no respect for human rights whatsoever, no difference indeed between the so-called moderates and hard liners.
Our meeting today shall be seen as an expression of solidarity with the Iranian people who want a regime change and nothing less.
Eduard Kukan, MEP, Slovakia:
The point I wanted to question today is about the role of the European Union. What was actually the response of EU to this uprising? I am sad to say that EU’s response was a very big disappointment for the people of Iran and for us.
It took Ms. Mogherini, a long 5 days to write a tweet concerning the uprising in Iran. And it still insisted on keeping close contacts with the government of Rouhani. Sorry to say, but it shows how much some of our colleagues are divorced from reality, in Iran. The Iranian people expected Europe to react strongly to the news of the detainees but there was no response. I think that this is a wrong policy. It is wrong morally, politically and for our long-term interests inention of our own governments and the European institutions on these facts and recommend to them to recognize the PMOI and the NCRI as the main and most reliable democratic opposition and the only credible alternative to the Iranian religious theocracy.
Regime change in Iran will only come through the uprising of the Iranian people, duly supported by political diplomatic and financial pressure from western democracies.
Anthea McIntyre, MEP, UK:
For years, we’ve been told by the regime and its supporters, and that includes the EU’s foreign policy officials that this is very stable country with no real opposition and that the Islamic Republic of Iran has millions of supporters and so on.
We have never believed that people like Rouhani and his foreign minister Zarif are moderates. We saw their human rights records and we saw that their best friends and allies are Bashar AL- Assad of Syria and Vladimir Putin.
And we could not believe in the Iranian elections because there was no opposition allowed to stand in these therefore, we cannot believe the regime’s assurances about its nuclear program because they lied to us for years. It was only when their secret nuclear sites were revealed by the opposition NCRI, and sanctions were imposed that the regime agreed to sign the nuclear deal.
So, we have not been deceived by the lies and the pro-regime lobbies’ propaganda. Moreover, the recent uprising has proved us right. All that Maryam Rajavi told us in December about the weakness of this regime was correct. In fact, just a few weeks after she spoke in the European Parliament, the nationwide protests began and those protests speeded to142 Iranian cities shortly.
So the Iranian regime had been very reticent to even mention the name of the PMOI, was forced to openly admit the very effective role that this opposition is playing in the uprising.
David Campbell Bannerman, MEP, UK:
My heart is very much with the protesters and you know I'd love to see the regime toppled, and I think it’s an evil regime. I'm afraid the European Union here is far too cozy with Iran and actually turning a blind eye to what's going on, because it wants to be this global player as I see it. And it aided this Iranian nuclear deal and it doesn't want to lose that and I think that is what's driving this.
I believe that the regime is frail, I think it is showing signs of not being able to oppress its own people to the extent it did in the past. I feel the strength here in this room from MEPs, and the debates we've had recently, all seem to suggest to me I think we're in for a massive change in policy and much more critical and sanctions approach to the regime, which I think is essential to get the freedom back to the people of Iran which we fully support.
Teresa Giménez Barbat, MEP, Spain:
The events of December, confirmed the disrespectful behavior of the Iranian government towards one of the most basic rights: The freedom of expression. When people were demonstrating against the unemployment and the poor quality of life, the only answer the government provided, was violence. We cannot accept that. The European Union is based on respect of human rights.
People from Iran have all the rights to demand this, and we as members of the European Parliament, shall support their fight. Many MEPs, and I am among them, hope for a future of freedom and stability. We hope Iranian can speak freely and they should be heard.
Pál Csáky, MEP, Slovakia:
The people of Iran have wanted freedom but that revolution was stolen by Khomeini and the Islamists. Now after 39 years, we have seen the brave people of Iran rising up for freedom and democracy again.
These protests gave us a lot of hope for change towards democracy in Iran. It proved the analyses of the Iranian opposition that for years have been saying that this is a very unstable and unpopular regime.
I think the European Union must now revise its policy towards Iran. The slogans of these protests and the reactions of the officials proved that there are no moderates within this regime.
Petri Sarvamaa, MEP, Finland:
In a rather sad way, I was delighted to find out that the regime disconnected and censored the internet and because this will inevitably fail. It always will in these cases sooner or later. Like our distinguished colleague Mr. Kelam said, this is absolutely about making a decision on which side we are. Are we on the future side or yesterday side?
Dear Iranians, tomorrow will come. It will come.
To me it is very clear that the European Union represented by Madam Mogherini, the high representative, sent the wrong message to the Iranian people by inviting the foreign minister of the of the Mullah’s Regime to Brussels in January 2017.
What we are doing here is to make sure that step by step, we move towards a more rational stance and that would include 3 things: At the least, the European Union has to condemn the Iranian regime and hold it accountable for the killings and mass arrests of the unarmed and defenseless protesters.
Two: we must call on the regime to release all protesters and give a very strong warning against using any torture, mistreatment or executions of the arrested protesters. And three: condition relations with Iran to a clear progress on human rights, including freeing all political prisoners, respecting women's rights and a halt to the horrible executions.
Arne Gericke, MEP, Germany:
I think the Iranian regime has to be warned! If you do not go a little calmer with your people, you will lose your people and that is what happening now, and the killings and the execution are no real solutions, it's just splitting the country and you will lose the whole country. So, I think we need to use the human rights as an orientation.
José Inácio Faria, MEP, Portugal:
The recent protests, which erupted on 28th of December in Iran, which rapidly escalated to 142 cities across the country and covered all the 31 provinces of the country, were the largest since the Green Movement in 2009.
Following to this wave of protests, women across the country started climbing on to telecom boxes, we all saw that on the media, on the social media, taking off their headscarves, which as you know is a highly public symbol of a set of personal rules imposed by the Iranian clerical leaders and they wave them aloft on sticks. By this simple example, yet consistent of acts of defiance, these courageous and brave young women standing tall and proud in the streets or Iran with their hair uncovered, it clearly showed their dissatisfaction with the Islamic laws governing the personal conduct.
All these massive antiestablishment protests brutally repressed and suppressed by the mullahs in power as you all know, showed the world that Iran has reached a boiling point and that Iranian citizens have enough of the horror, enough of the medieval tortures and executions imposed by the mullahs in the name of God. Iranians especially the younger generation are no longer afraid and want nothing less than a total change of regime.
Laima Andrikienė, MEP, Lithuania:
I was following developments in Iran for many years, since 2004, my first term in the European Parliament. We have seen different periods, different developments in the country, something, you know becoming probably too optimistic that you know the changes were coming and then again disappointment. But this very decent wave of demonstrations through this country. And especially that the people are demanding a regime change, that they're very outspoken about corruption, about the violation of human rights, about the poor economic situation.
In fact, she even did not bother to write her tweet, she retweeted someone else’s tweets. In addition, I understand that we all know the reason. So, taking in to account, the number of those arrested, detained, imprisoned, tortured, executed, those numbers are shocking and we cannot be silent. I have a lot of sympathy to those young Iranians who stand for democracy.
Franc Bogovič, MEP, Slovenia
I think it’s necessary that here in the European Parliament; we say openly “It’s enough”, that we cannot look at this violence, which has happened, death penalties, which are happening in Iran.
There is no excuse for these things, which have happened in Iran. We all support the nuclear agreement with Iran, but we must send a clear message that we will not trade this agreement or other things with the basic values of human rights, with killing people and violence against people who don't agree with the regime.
In addition, I think it is necessary that the same voice goes from all European countries and to the people who are the front men of the European Union, in Commission, in Parliament and I hope there will be a democratization in Iran.
Jaromír Štětina, MEP, Czech Republic:
Let me express a short remark only. I want to express a short message to the Iranian people. My dear Iranian friends, people are again being killed and arrested in Iran. We share your sorrow. We understand your uprising. We share your desire to be free. We are with you. We cannot be silent any longer.