Stop Fundamentalism – The following press release, dated October 16, 2012 is by ‘Friends of a Free Iran’ in the European Parliament.
Euro MPs call for the trip to Iran to be cancelled
A press conference was held today in the European Parliament-Brussels to discuss the EU’s policy towards Iran and a planned controversial trip of a group of parliamentarians to Iran at end of October. This was organised by Friends of a Free Iran intergroup which was formed in 2004 and has the active support of over 200 MEPs. Vice-President of the European Parliament, Alejo Vidal-Quadras, chaired the conference.
Vidal-Quadras welcomed the decision of the EU Council of Foreign Ministers on Monday 15 October to impose more sanctions on Iran and said: “This is as an essential step to preclude this regime from acquiring nuclear weapons. But we also call for cutting all economic and commercial relations with Iran.” He referred to the U.N. special rapporteur on human rights in Iran, who said in a report last week that “human rights activists in Iran are subjected to beatings with batons, mock hangings, rape, sleep deprivation, and threats that family members will be raped or killed. This UN report said that Iranian authorities executed at least 223 people in the first six months of this year. A large number of those executed were convicted at unfair trials. About 670 people were executed in Iran in 2011.”
The Vice-President of the European Parliament added: “In these circumstances we in Europe should not send mixed messages to the Iranian regime. That is why we believe that any formal delegation from the European Parliament or any national parliament in Europe to Iran will be extremely counterproductive. Whatever good intentions our colleagues may have, such visits would give credit to the mullahs and is completely for the benefit of the Iranian regime to justify the repression, violation of human rights and export of fundamentalism and terrorism. We call for the cancellation of this trip.”
Struan Stevenson MEP, Chair of the Friends of a Free Iran intergroup who also heads the Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Iraq said: “The mullahs already almost control neighbouring Iraq and they are seeking regional dominance, and for a suppressive regime of this nature, acquiring nuclear weapons would be an absolute tragedy. That’s why we have to deal with this regime in the toughest manner possible, with sanctions, with encouraging people to rise up and throw out the corrupt evil mullahs. This is a regime where people guilty of murder, rape, torture and corruption are promoted! And these are the kind of people our delegation will go to meet. It is a tragedy and something that will be exploited ruthlessly by the mullahs for propaganda purposes.
“The last time a friendship delegation from this house went to Iran, on the day of their arrival there was a mass public execution in Tehran, almost as an insult to our delegation; almost as a message to our delegation: we don’t care what you come here to say about human rights, this is how we treat political dissent in our country. And I tell you, I would predict that will happen a week on Monday, they will be saving up some public executions as a message to Europe that this is what we think about your ideas on human rights.
“The Conference of Presidents in this House must put this on the agenda for their meeting this week and must cancel the scandalous approval of a delegation going to Iran.”
Stevenson added : “This is a regime producing nuclear weapons, our policy of appeasement has given them time to be able to produce nuclear weapons which has now even become an election issue for president Obama. Of course the sanctions are affecting the people because they are affecting the economy, but that is when people rise up and realise that it is what the regime has brought onto the back of Iran. So people are demanding regime change, because they see the regime is responsible for all these things. The real opposition, which has now been removed from the terror list of the US, in the EU, in the UK, are the PMOI. Why are we not backing them? Why are we not using them as a vehicle for regime change? This is the opportunity to do so. Instead of that we are sending a friendship delegation to Tehran. This is scandalous.”
Tunne Kelam MEP said “The paradox is here that in December the European parliament will announce the next winners of Sakharov price, and two Iranian candidates have strong probabilities of receiving this price. Now what this Iran – delegation is going to do is contradicting the European parliament’s position in defending human rights and rule of law. Sending a delegation to visit Iran like business as usual is shooting ourselves in our leg. Because our delegation will be able to meet only regime loyalists and former revolutionary guards sitting now in the parliament. They will not have any access to opposition activists or any political prisoners.” He called on the Conference of Presidents, the highest authority in the Parliament to cancel this trip.
Friends of a Free Iran