Conference at European Parliament Calls for Strong Policy on Iran’s Rights Abuses

A conference at the European Parliament in Strasbourg
Iranian opposition leader Maryam Rajavi and Members of the European Parliament
A conference at the European Parliament in Strasbourg

By Armin Baldwin

On Wednesday, members of the European parliament at the EP headquarters in Strasbourg held a conference that weighed in on the human rights situation in Iran. Attendants, which included MEPs, European politicians and Iranian opposition president Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, called for a strong European approach vis-a-vis the Iranian regime’s human rights violations and terrorism.

Several Members of the European Parliament spoke at the event and stressed on the importance of holding Iranian regime officials to account in regard to the 1988 massacre of over 30,000 political prisoners in Iran. Most of the victims of this crime against humanity were members and supporters of the Iranian Opposition People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK).


Rama Yade, former Human Rights Minister of France

Speaking at the conference, Rama Yade, former Human Rights Minister of France, said:

“The pain of the mothers of Iran’s 1988 massacre is still alive. What we need is the establishment of an independent inquiry into the 1988 massacre to shed light on this crime against humanity. There must be justice.”

“Appeasement will not reduce the Iranian regime’s ballistic capabilities and its terrorism. What is important here is to give up this blank check and adopt a clear condemnation of the regime’s crimes.”

“Women have paid an especially heavy price in the past two years. We must do more. We owe it to this great nation and people. We must support the desire of the Iranian people for regime change and the establishment of a secular government based on the separation of church and state, and gender equality.”

“We are here in the heart of the European Parliament, whose members have just been renewed. You have a chance to rewrite history in the way that your predecessors could not. The global focus of today’s tensions is in Iran.”

“It’s not easy. The Iranian Resistance has suffered for so many years. So many Iranian citizens have lost their lives in the past years.”


Alejo Vidal-Quadras, former Vice President of the European Parliament

Alejo Vidal-Quadras, former Vice President of the European Parliament, said:

“In previous years, the policy of appeasement was the dominant trend. The Iranian regime benefited a lot and the Iranian people suffered. The PMOI (People’s Mojahedin, Mujahedin-e Khalq or MEK) was unjustly included on the European and American blacklists. The opposition was besieged in Camp Ashraf and Camp Liberty in Iraq, and many of them were killed.”

“The Iranian opposition under the leadership of Maryam Rajavi managed to win its case in courts and remove both designations. After this, the Iranian Resistance started rebuilding its network in Iran. According to regime officials, Iranian MEK Resistance Units played a prominent role in the uprisings in 2018.”

“Today, the situation is different. More people have started to see the cruel nature of this theocracy. Maryam Rajavi said in her speech about the report by the Albanian government about the Iranian regime’s terrorist plan against opposition members in Tirana. Another plot was stopped by European authorities against the 2018 Free Iran gathering.”

“European governments need to realize the only effective policy against the Iranian regime is to deal with it for what it is: a mortal enemy that we cannot neutralize. What are we waiting for to designate the regime’s IRGC and the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) as terrorist organizations? What are we waiting for to expel its officials and close its embassies? I hope our new foreign policy chief will answer these questions.”


Assita Kanko, MEP from Belgium

Assita Kanko, MEP from Belgium, said:

“We totally follow the situation in Iran and will continue to keep attention. I am very attached to this notion of freedom. We must press for action. The situation of dual nationals in Iran is concerning.”

Petras Auštrevičius, MEP from Lithuania, said:

“We should agree among ourselves that we have to invest in this action as long as it will be needed to achieve a free Iran. We are here because we disagree with the ayatollahs in Iran.”

“We make statements and hold rallies and meetings. It is the right thing to do. But we should also commit ourselves to continue this until we see a democratic Iran. We should keep our hopes for Iranians. They should not be left alone.”

“Once you see even a small sign of hope, which brings to you have confidence and believe in the future, all of those obstacles become nothing. Walls are sometimes destroyed by the will of people. We are with you for a different future for Iran.”


Iranian opposition President Maryam Rajavi

Iranian opposition NCRI President Maryam Rajavi:

“Today, I would like to introduce an extraordinary document to the representatives of the people of Europe. A book containing the names of more than 5,000 prisoners massacred by the mullahs in Iran. The book is the story of a nation who has been suppressed in Iran, and abroad, her human rights, freedoms and resistance have been overlooked,” said Iranian opposition President Maryam Rajavi in her opening remarks.

“Western governments and the United Nations closed their eyes on this crime. Enjoying impunity for such a horrible crime, the regime spread its war to the Middle East which is still ongoing,” Mrs. Rajavi continued.

Gianna Gancia, MEP from Italy

Gianna Gancia, MEP from Italy, tells the conference:

“The number of executions in Iran is very high, and it is very difficult for us to imagine. During the presidency of Rouhani, 4,000 people have been hanged. No country kills its own citizens in such numbers. Women are hit even harder.

They have no freedom.”

“We see the brutalities in Iran, but our representatives in Europe are only interested in trade with Iran. Our parliament has a duty to speak out and call on the European Commission to stop their relations with Iran and impose sanctions on this regime for its human rights violations. We want democratic change in Iran.”


Alessandra Moretti, MEP from Italy

Alessandra Moretti, MEP from Italy, tells the conference:

“Iran is a country where fundamental human rights are trampled on because the regime does not give any rights to the people. I have heard a lot about the strong role of women in Iran’s protests and their talents in the society. I understand the heavy price that has been paid for freedom. We have to push for an end to the death penalty and the torture and imprisonment of activists in Iran.”

“We are here to push the European Union to base any deals with the regime on the conditions of respect for human rights and an end to executions, which does not comply with international standards and values of justice.”


Franc Bogovič, MEP from Slovenia

Franc Bogovič, MEP from Slovenia, tells the conference:

“I support your movement. You are brave to do this for your people. Our duty is to support the people of Iran. We have a new makeup in the European Parliament. We need more friends for the democratic movement of the Iranian people. It is necessary that we see this book (newly-released book listing 5,000 MEK members executed by Iran’s regime) and see the faces of the people of your movement.”

“It is happening in Iran today, but it can also happen in Europe. We must take care of our societies and help the people in Iran. We must impose sanctions against the regime that steals money from Iran’s people, pockets it and spends it on terrorism. This is something we can do.”


Ingrid Betancourt, former Colombian Senator, and presidential candidate

Ingrid Betancourt, former Colombian Senator and presidential candidate, tells the conference:

“You are representing the voice of the European people, but you are also the voice of 30,000 victims of the 1988 massacre in Iran, whom you’re bringing back to life.”

“I have talked to the survivors of the massacre and the families of the victims. As victims, we want to forget, but we can not have it at the price of avoiding justice. We need justice to make sure what happened to us will not be repeated. What happened in 1988 is the scene today in Iran.”

“The president of Iran, Hassan Rouhani, was part of decision-makers that perpetrated this massacre. The justice minister of Iran was one of the people responsible for making decisions to kill the victims. It was a genocide, an industry of killing.”

“Why is it important for us today to revisit what happened in 1988? Two years ago, after a very enormous effort to bring the people of MEK to a safe place — they were living in Iraq, in dangerous situations, and the government of Albania accepted them — two people posing as journalists came to Albania with the aim of targeting the MEK members in a terror attack.”

“In 2018, we were in a big conference in Paris to support the Iranian Resistance and express our opposition to the lack of justice and the corruption of the Iranian regime. The Iranian regime wanted to kill us all. On that day, two people were arrested with a bomb they wanted to install on the premises we had gathered to kill all of us. An Iranian diplomat was detained by German authorities because he was the head of this terror plot. He was an Iranian official, part of the government of Iran, on orders to kill us.”

“This is why we cannot submit to the lies and the blackmail of the Iranian regime. It affects all of us. This year, a French citizen went to see her family in Iran. She never came back. She was arrested and imprisoned on charges of espionage. The same has happened to a British woman.”

“Iran has used these people as hostages, illegal hostages, abducted by the regime to have leverage to force our governments to comply with their demands. It is time to say that we want them out. We do not want any more of this complacency with this regime.”

“We need people we can confide in, who represent our values, freedom and equality. Without equality for women in Iran, there is no freedom for anyone. We must use our voice to have their plea heard across the world.”


Anthea McIntyre, MEP from the United Kingdom

Anthea McIntyre, MEP from the United Kingdom tells the conference:

“We MEPs speak as representatives of the people of Europe. The people of Europe have great empathy with the people of Iran. The 1988 massacre of prisoners in Iran is a horrific crime, but it is not an isolated event. Suppression of women’s rights, arbitrary of arrests, a total lack of civil liberties, are hallmarks of Iran today.”

“Iranians took to the streets on several occasions. In the last uprising, the hostility to the regime was very clear, and the people called on Iranian Regime Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei to go. The people do not want this regime. The EU policy must be based on this reality.”

“The people of Iran are looking on with despair as they see the champions of western values turn a blind eye on their rights.”

“There is a democratic alternative to this regime. It is led by Maryam Rajavi and your ten-point plan. Many members of this parliament support her. I look forward to the day when we are all able to go to a free Iran with Maryam Rajavi as its elected democratic president.”


Patrizia Toia, MEP from Italy

Patrizia Toia, MEP from Italy, tells the conference:

“We have adopted a firm resolution against Iran’s violations of women’s rights. The regime is blackmailing the EU.

British and French nationals are held hostage in Iran. We must face this regime in a much stronger way.”

“We must adopt a firm policy to fight for freedom and democracy and the establishment of a legitimate regime in Iran.

We have heard of the number of women and minors being executed in Iran. We must be united against this.”

“Maryam Rajavi, you have our full support in your struggle to achieve freedom and democracy for your people.”


Ruza Tomasic, MEP from Croatia 

Ruza Tomasic, MEP from Croatia, tells the conference:

“More than 40 years of torture and execution, and the export of terrorism by the regime of Iran leaves no question to the nature of the problem. Let us find a solution.”

“One approach is trying to get along with this regime. It has proven not to be a solution at all. This is playing into the hands of the regime. This is happening now in the 21st century. The EU’s policy has seriously damaged its reputation in Iran. The only solution is to support the serious opposition that the regime fears, which is the NCRI and Maryam Rajavi.”


Struan Stevenson, former European lawmaker, and Coordinator of the Campaign for Iran Change (CIC) 

Struan Stevenson, former European lawmaker, and Coordinator of the Campaign for Iran Change (CIC), tells the event:

“We need a new policy on Iran and an end to the business-as-usual appeasement. This is a regime that boasts about its missiles and that is racing to build nuclear weapons.”

“This regime has slaughtered 120,000 people since 1979, and 30,000 people in the summer of 1988. The executions were carried out based on a fatwa by regime founder Ruhollah Khomeini. One of the key players was the current Iranian Regime Justice Minister Alireza Avaei. He was appointed by Iranian regime President Hassan Rouhani, which the West regards as a ‘moderate’ president.”

“In the past 12 months, 270 people were hanged in Iran. Eight of them were juveniles. The medieval conditions in the prisons of Iran continue.”

“This is a regime whose policy is based on the strategy of expansionism. They support Bashar al-Assad in Syria, the Houthis in Yemen, and the brutal Shiite militias in Iraq. They are attacking ships in the waters of the Persian Gulf.

They are using their embassies to coordinate terror attacks here in Europe.”

“Iran is also one of the most pro-western countries in the region. But they are ruled by corrupt mullahs who only want to further enhance their own lavish lifestyles. Their people are sick of a regime that has bankrupted their country.”

“Europe must show that we support the Iranian people and the MEK and NCRI. We must show support for Maryam Rajavi and her ten-point plan.”


Stanislav Polčák, MEP from the Czech Republic 

Stanislav Polčák, MEP from the Czech Republic, tells the conference:

“Anyone who has attended your gatherings knows how strong your movement is, with tens of thousands of supporters attending each event.”

We are seeing the world finally waking up to the threats of the Iranian regime not only to its citizens but also to the people of the region and the world. It is time for the EU to wake up as well.”


Radka Maxová, MEP from the Czech Republic 

Radka Maxová, MEP from the Czech Republic, tells the conference:

“I believe that we MEPs should no longer stay silent on the abuses taking place in Iran. We should raise our voice and speak for the suffering people of Iran. Do not hesitate to knock on my door. I will be here to help you.”


Jan Zahradil, MEP from the Czech Republic

Jan Zahradil, MEP from the Czech Republic, tells the conference:

“What we see today is a change in balance. We see Iran and its fundamentalist regime having the appetite to become a regional hegemon and occupy other countries such as Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen.”

“The EU is not willing to recognize the real threat stemming from Iran’s regime. If we allow the regime to become a regional hegemon, it will be a real security threat. The former EU foreign policy chief was promoting the appeasement policy and looking for economic deals with Tehran. It did not work. We should look for a firm and principled position.”

Your movement – the NCRI and the MEK – is the best-organized opposition. Your ten-point plan includes the abolition of the death penalty and equal rights for men and women. The EU must support your goals. For the sake of our own interests and security, we in this room must be able to send this message to all those who are unable to listen to this message.”


Juan Fernando Lopez Aguilar, MEP from Spain

Juan Fernando Lopez Aguilar, MEP from Spain, tells the conference:

“The case of the suicide by an Iranian woman who entered a football stadium disguised as a man is a sad tragedy, but it is just an example of what is going on in Iran. The European Parliament should make the case for women’s rights and human rights in Iran. It is time to call on EU diplomacy to make sense to its founding values and make the case against the death penalty wherever it takes place.”

“We have a duty towards the Iranian people. We will not give up our moral responsibility to bring about change in human rights elsewhere, particularly in Iran.”


Ryszard Czarnecki, MEP from Poland 

Ryszard Czarnecki, MEP from Poland, tells the conference:

“The Iranian Resistance, under the leadership of Maryam Rajavi, has undergone many hardships. In the 1988 massacre, more than 30,000 MEK members were executed in Iran. Many of the perpetrators continue to hold top positions in Iran.”

“Many MEK members are now in Albania. I visited them and I look forward to seeing them again. They are symbols for the Iranian people. We should call on European governments to recognize the Iranian Resistance as the true alternative.”

“Let us send a strong message to the people of Iran that we are with you until we have a free Iran.”


Milan Zver, MEP from Slovenia 

Milan Zver, MEP from Slovenia, tells the conference:

“Iran’s regime is the source of instability – instability is the doctrine for its survival. The Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) and its terrorist proxies fight in various Middle East countries. The mullahs have formed close alliances with Russia, North Korea, and the Bashar al-Assad dictatorship in Syria.”

“The majority of people in Iran live in poverty. More prisons are built full of dissidents. Europe is largely responsible for this sad situation due to the appeasement policy. The situation must stop for the sake of the people in the region. We must press the European Union to adopt a firm policy toward this regime.”

Petri Sarvamaa MEP, Finnish MEP from the EPP Group, Vice-Coordinator of the Budgetary Control Committee, Full Member of the AGRI Committee: Every visit by Mrs. Maryam Rajavi here is important because it is important for the Iranian people and for freedom. My message is that we must change the EU’s role which for years has ignored the mullahs’ terrorism for the sake of continuing trade with Iran. It is a privilege to have Maryam Rajavi with us here.


Anna Fotyga MEP from Poland

Anna Fotyga MEP from Poland welcomed panelists and guests and said it’s important for the European Union to focus on human rights in its relationship with Iran.