Motion for a resolution - B9-0276/2019Motion for a resolution

MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION on the violent crackdown on the recent protests in Iran

17.12.2019 - (2019/2993(RSP))

to wind up the debate on the statement by the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
pursuant to Rule 132(2) of the Rules of Procedure

Cornelia Ernst, Manuel Bompard
on behalf of the GUE/NGL Group

Procedure : 2019/2993(RSP)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected :  


European Parliament resolution on the violent crackdown on the recent protests in Iran


The European Parliament,

 having regard to its previous resolutions on Iran, in particular those of 19 September 2019 on Iran, notably the situation of women’s rights defenders and imprisoned EU dual nationals[1], of 14 March 2019 on Iran, notably the case of human rights defenders[2], of 13 December 2018 on Iran, notably the case of Nasrin Sotoudeh[3], of 31 May 2018 on the situation of imprisoned EU-Iranian dual nationals in Iran[4], of 3 April 2014 on the EU strategy towards Iran[5], and of 8 October 2015 on the death penalty[6], and of 25 October 2016 on the EU strategy towards Iran after the nuclear agreement[7],

 having regard to the declaration of 8 December 2019 by the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (VP/HR), Josep Borrell Fontelles, on behalf of the EU on the recent protests in Iran,

 having regard to the statement by the Spokesperson on the developments in Iran of 21November 2019,

 having regard to the EU Guidelines on the Death Penalty, on Torture and on Freedom of Expression Online and Offline,

 having regard to the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders,

 having regard to the report from the UN Special Rapporteur of 30 January 2019 on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran,

 having regard to the report from the UN Secretary General of 8 February 2019 on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran,

 having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,

 having regard to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,

 having regard to Rule 132(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A. whereas the United States reinstated economic sanctions on Iran after President Donald Trump abandoned the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in May 2018; whereas President Trump said he wants to apply ‘maximum pressure’ on the Iranian Government in Tehran ‘to compel it to renegotiate the accord’; whereas in May 2019, the US administration put an end to exemptions from US secondary sanctions for major importers of Iranian oil, which prevented third countries from buying Iranian oil; whereas President Trump said the decision was ‘intended to bring Iran’s oil exports to zero, denying the regime its principal source of revenue’; whereas on 14 February 2019, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told CBS News, ‘things are much worse for the Iranian people (with the US sanctions), and we are convinced that will lead the Iranian people to rise up and change the behaviour of the regime’; whereas Brian Hook, the current overseer of US policy towards Iran, has admitted ‘we should consider human rights as an important issue in regard to US relations with China, Russia, North Korea, and Iran’ because ‘pressing those regimes on human rights is one way to impose costs, apply counter-pressure, and regain the initiative from them strategically’; whereas in December 2019, the US imposed sanctions on Iran’s biggest shipping company and largest airline for allegedly helping Tehran to develop ballistic missiles, which was in contravention of UN sanctions;

B. whereas the reinstatement of US sanctions in 2018, particularly those imposed on the energy, shipping and financial sectors, hit oil exports in particular – which constitute Iran’s most important source of foreign currency earnings; whereas as a result of the sanctions, Iran’s gross domestic product (GDP) contracted by an estimated 4.8 % in 2018 and is forecast to shrink by another 9.5 % in 2019, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF);

C. whereas the USA restricted Iran’s access to global financial markets by adding approximately 20 Iranian institutions to the list of specially designated global terrorists (SDGTs), by adding at least 37 Iranian governmental and privately-owned banks, as well as Iran’s national oil company, to the specially designated nationals and blocked persons list (SDN) of individuals subject to sanctions; whereas any company that engages in transactions with SDNs can be subject to prosecution in the US, which would create a significant risk for businesses, banks and the global financial institutions that are essential for facilitating the import of products into Iran, including essential medicines and medical equipment;

D. whereas Iran’s reserves of foreign currency have been reduced to USD 86 billion – 20 % below their level in 2013; whereas in addition, according to a senior US official, Brian Hook, Iran has access to only 10 % of those reserves because of restrictions on its financial sector;

E. whereas Iranian currency has lost 50 % of its value against the US dollar since the US abandoned the nuclear deal; whereas the Rial’s slide has been attributed to Iran’s economic problems and a high demand for foreign currency among ordinary Iranians who have seen the value of their savings eroded and their purchasing power cut dramatically;

F. whereas President Rohani managed to get inflation down to 9 % in 2017; whereas the IMF estimated that inflation soared to 30.5 % in 2018 and projected that it would reach 35.7 % in 2019; whereas the World Bank has said that inflation in Iran has been especially high for food items, with meat products 116 % more expensive year-on-year in April 2019, and that the rural population has been disproportionally affected; whereas the Statistical Centre of Iran reported that the Consumer Price Index (CPI) 12-month rate of inflation for households stood at 42 % in late October 2019; whereas food and beverage prices were up by 61 % year-on-year;

G. whereas US sanctions against Iranian banks have drastically reduced Iran’s ability to finance humanitarian imports, therefore posing a serious threat to Iranians’ right to health and access to essential medicines – in addition to almost certainly contributing to documented shortages – ranging from a lack of critical drugs for epilepsy patients to limited chemotherapy medications for Iranians with cancer; whereas the people worst affected by these sanctions are Iranians with rare diseases and/or conditions that require specialised treatment and who are unable to acquire previously available medicines or supplies, including people with leukaemia, epidermolysis bullosa, or epilepsy, and individuals with chronic eye injuries from exposure to chemical weapons during the Iran-Iraq war;

H. whereas the EU reaffirmed its commitment to the JCPOA, including to those provisions on trade and foreign investments and has taken measures to protect legitimate EU trade and economic interests; whereas one of the most notable measures has been the instrument in support of trade exchanges (INSTEX) – a European special purpose vehicle (SPV) designed with the specific goal of keeping trade with Iran; whereas all these measures failed due to Europe’s asymmetric interdependence with the US economy, the size of US markets and the global role of the US dollar; whereas the EU urgently needs to begin to build up its strategic autonomy in areas such trade and banking systems;

I. whereas in July 2019, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran said that he is ‘not only concerned that sanctions and banking restrictions will unduly affect food security and the availability and distribution of medicines, pharmaceutical equipment and supplies, but is also concerned at their potential negative impact on the United Nations and other operations and programmes in the country’;

J. whereas in 2019, the unemployment rate rose from 14.5 % in 2018 to 16.8 % in Iran;

K. whereas in November 2019, the Iranian Government unexpectedly announced that it was cutting petrol subsidies by 50 % and that drivers of private cars would be allowed to purchase only 60 litres each month; whereas by doing so, the Iranian Government followed what the IMF advised in its 2018 Article IV consultations; whereas the rise of petrol prices added to the appalling economic and social situation, which were a result of the US sanctions;

L. whereas on 15 November 2019, protests started in more than 100 locations across Iran after it was announced that the price of fuel would increase by 50 %; whereas according to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR), there are conflicting reports about whether or not there were one or more armed people among the protestors;

M. whereas according to UN reports, security forces responded to the protests by excessive use of force, including the use of water cannons, tear gas, batons, and in some cases live ammunition against unarmed demonstrators who posed no imminent threat of death or serious injury; whereas according to reports, members of the Basij militia and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRCG) were involved in shooting protesters;

N. whereas according to UN sources, ​during the five days of demonstrations, which according to official Government sources involved between 120 000 and 200 000 protesters, at least 208 people were killed, including 13 women and 12 children; whereas there are reports – which the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has been unable to verify so far – suggesting that more than twice that number were killed;

O. whereas according to the OHCHR, there are reports that individuals who were wounded or otherwise injured during the crackdown are being denied medical treatment in detention;

P. whereas at least 7 000 people have reportedly been arrested in 28 of Iran’s 31 provinces since the mass protests broke out on 15 November 2019; whereas the UNHCHR said that she is ‘extremely concerned about their physical treatment, violations of their right to due process, and the possibility that a significant number of them may be charged with offences that carry the death penalty, in addition to the conditions under which they are held’; whereas there are reports about security forces still carrying out raids across the country to arrest people in their homes and places of work;

Q. whereas the OHCHR has reports of intimidation of journalists trying to report on the situation both inside and outside the country, with family members of Iranian journalists working for news channels based outside Iran reportedly summoned and threatened with reprisals by intelligence officials;

R. whereas according to the OHCHR, many of the arrested protesters have not had access to a lawyer; whereas there are reports of severe overcrowding and harsh conditions in detention centres, which in some cities include military barracks, sports venues and schools, in addition to official detention facilities;

S. whereas on 16 November 2019, the Iranian authorities implemented a near total shut-down of internet communications, cutting nearly all means of online communications for people inside Iran, therefore using control of the internet as a way to contain conflicts; whereas shutting down internet communications constitutes a violation of the right to freedom of expression;

1. Deeply deplores the loss of life of so many innocent people and expresses its deep solidarity with the families of those dead or injured;

2. Condemns in its strongest terms the crackdown on protesters, who were exercising their rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly; urges the Iranian Government to respect those rights and to exercise maximum restraint in handling protests, in accordance with international norms and standards; urges the Iranian authorities to ensure the full implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which it is party; stresses that there cannot be any excuse for the use of excessive force against civilians;

3. Calls on the Iranian authorities to ensure prompt, independent and impartial investigations into all violations that have taken place, including the killing of protesters and reported deaths and ill-treatment in custody, and insists that those responsible must be held accountable;

4. Urges the Iranian authorities to immediately release from detention all protestors who have been arbitrarily deprived of their liberty, and to ensure their right to due process, including access to a lawyer of their choosing during the investigative stage;

5. Urges the Iranian Government to respect Iranians’ right to exercise freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association and, in addition to investigating the violations that have already occurred, to strongly restrict the use of force of the security forces as provided for under the relevant international norms and standards;

6. Condemns all measures to intentionally prevent or disrupt access to or dissemination of information online in violation of international human rights law, and calls on Iran to refrain from and cease such measures;

7. Condemns the decision taken by the USA on 8 May 2018 to withdraw from the JCPOA, to impose severe sanctions on Iran and to pursue a regime-change strategy for Iran;

8. Highlights the negative impact that the sanctions have had on the economic and social situation in Iran, which mainly affects ordinary Iranians and their enjoyment of their economic and social rights; calls for the EU to initiate a robust international dialogue on sanctions in light of their disastrous effects for the people concerned;

9. Recalls that human rights are universal and indivisible, denounces the instrumentalisation of human rights for geopolitical or economic purposes; rejects any international action that violates the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations in all its aspects;

10. Reaffirms that respect for human rights is a core component in the development of EU-Iran relations; calls for a Parliament delegation to be sent to Tehran to raise concerns about the recent events and to discuss mutual concerns;

11. Calls for efforts to begin towards regional reconciliation and dialogue, arms control and disarmament;

12. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the government and parliament of Iran, the Council, the Commission, Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, and the European External Action Service (EEAS).


Last updated: 17 December 2019
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