Full text 
Verbatim report of proceedings
Monday, 6 September 2010 - Strasbourg OJ edition

18. Human rights in Iran, in particular, the cases of Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani and of Zahra Bahrami (debate)
Video of the speeches

  Dacian Cioloş, Member of the Commission. (FR) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, since my colleague, the High Representative and Vice-President of the Commission, Catherine Ashton, cannot be here, I shall take the liberty of presenting, in cooperation with her and on behalf of the Commission, the following statements.

The human rights situation in Iran is an issue of great concern. Over the last few months, the High Representative/Vice-President of the Commission, Catherine Ashton, and her services have, on several occasions, expressed an opinion on the human rights violations in that country.

Many of you have done the same. It is vital that we continue to denounce these inhumane, archaic practices, which, sadly, still exist in Iran.

A European Union declaration, published in June, called on Iran to respect freedom of expression, to respect the right to a fair trial and to stop all discrimination against religious and ethnic minorities, and towards women.

Capital punishment and the rights of minorities have been the subject of many other EU declarations this year. The European Union demands no more of Iran than it does of any other country. We are simply asking for its authorities, by means of both public statements and confidential moves by diplomatic representatives, to honour the commitment they made under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and other human rights treaties to respect citizens’ rights.

My colleague, the High Representative/Vice-President of the Commission, Catherine Ashton, and her official representatives in Brussels and Tehran have paid the utmost attention to the situation of Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani.

On 6 July, the High Representative/Vice-President published a statement clearly calling on the Iranian authorities to re-examine the case of Mrs Mohammadi-Ashtiani and of several other people whose death sentences have been pronounced in flagrant breach of international rules, and this in a country in which capital punishment unfortunately remains legal.

The matter has already been raised with the Iranian authorities through diplomatic channels. The very idea of stoning is so barbaric that we must continue to completely and utterly condemn it and to reaffirm our condemnation in the strongest possible terms until such practices are finally abolished.

The European Union has also raised directly with the Iranian Government the case of Zahra Bahrami, whose arrest is linked to the disturbances that took place during the Ashura celebrations in December 2009. The European Union has stressed the fact that Mrs Bahrami, an Iranian-Dutch citizen, should have a fair, open and transparent trial. As a European citizen, Mrs Bahrami should also be able to have full access to consular and legal assistance. The High Representative will continue to monitor Mrs Bahrami’s case very closely, in cooperation with the European Union’s diplomatic representatives in Tehran.

May I assure you that the European Union and its Member States will continue to condemn human rights violations in Iran for as long as they are still committed, whether through bilateral contacts, public statements or within the framework of multilateral contacts.


  Roberta Angelilli, on behalf of the PPE Group.(IT) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, torture, flogging and stoning are aberrant, barbaric, inhumane practices that brutally violate the most fundamental human rights.

There are no better words to comment on such acts of violence than the words of Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani herself. I will read from a letter of hers: ‘Often at night,’ Sakineh says, ‘before I go to sleep, I ask myself: how are they going to prepare to throw stones at me, to aim at my face and my hands?’ Then she appeals: ‘Tell everyone that I am afraid of dying; help me stay alive.’

Parliament must heed this cry of despair. Sakineh must not be left alone. She must become our banner, the banner of human rights in Iran. The international community must demand a stay of this summary execution. We need to have the courage to say that we are ready to cut off diplomatic relations, because there can be no compromise on human rights, and silence means consent.

By roundly condemning the execution, we women and men who enjoy freedom must offer strength and encouragement to that part of public opinion in Iran that disagrees with the regime and desperately needs our support and our intransigence. That regime is based on fear, repression and the violation of freedoms and fundamental rights, and we in this House must tell it loud and clear that we all identify with Sakineh.


  María Muñiz De Urquiza, on behalf of the S&D Group.(ES) Madam President, adultery, homosexuality and peaceful participation in demonstrations are three crimes for which three people have been given terrible sentences in Iran. They should not be considered as crimes in Iran – of course, they are not crimes in Europe – because Iran is bound by international instruments protecting human rights that establish that these are not crimes of which people can be convicted and that they certainly cannot be given such terrible sentences as the death penalty, especially when minors are involved.

The Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament therefore firstly condemns the fact that people are deemed to have committed a crime because they have exercised their individual freedom in these ways, and we urgently call for Sakineh Ashtiani and Ebrahim Hamidi not to be executed and for their cases to be completely reviewed. We call for the sentence of stoning to be banned and for Iran to ratify the moratorium on the death sentence promoted by the United Nations. We ask for a United Nations mission to be established to monitor the human rights situation in Iran and for the Council to not only condemn these actions but to extend the travel ban and freezing of assets to individuals and organisations that suppress human rights and fundamental freedoms in Iran.

The S&D Group condemns the systematic repression suffered by activists and human rights defenders in Iran, and we therefore ask the Council and the Commission to put forward additional protection measures for human rights defenders.


  Marietje Schaake, on behalf of the ALDE Group. – Madam President, as Europeans, we are particularly moved by the human rights situation in Iran, not only because we consider the EU to be a community of values and believe in a world without the death penalty, but also because today, we are all too aware of the individuals behind the numbers. At least 388 people were executed in Iran in 2009 alone. These individual deaths are meant to deter a generation in their calls for freedom, but in fact, they inspire a multitude more.

In recent weeks, a lively discussion about human rights in Iran erupted in the Netherlands when a Dutch-Iranian citizen was imprisoned. The Iranian Government does not recognise the Dutch citizenship of dual nationals. Therefore, Dutch diplomats have not been able to speak with this person, and neither have her lawyers. The Dutch Government engages with citizens in prisons all over the world regardless of their cases. It is a constitutional obligation to provide for the well-being of its citizens.

This issue matters to all Member States and should be addressed EU-wide in relation to Iran, giving human rights a more prominent position on our agenda. Today, we are talking about people – women and individuals – whose lives are effectively over, even if they are still alive. Zahra and Sakineh are no exception to the thousands of prisoners in Iran who are less known and who may feel as though their voices are not heard. The Iranian Government should realise that tough language, military technology or resilience in times of sanctions will not end the country’s self-isolation or move it forward. Rather, the legitimacy derived from providing for the well-being of citizens earns respect and credibility in the international community. Justice and security are actually two sides of the same coin. There cannot be impunity for people who hang children, who systematically censor and rape, and who stone women.

When addressing Iran, let us revive the human rights dialogue so that the EU sends a strong signal, besides that of the euro and of sanctions, and engages Iran on its most sensitive and our most fundamental point – human rights and fundamental freedoms – and attaches consequences to their abuse.


  Barbara Lochbihler, on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group.(DE) Madam President, the background to the pending executions of these two women has already been discussed. I would therefore now like to mention briefly that there is also a movement of activists in Iran itself that is working to prevent the stoning and to bring an end to this gruesome practice. Some movement has been made as a result of their actions.

The former head of justice in Iran, Ayatollah Shahroudi, ruled that stonings should end in 2002 and then again in 2008. However, Iranian law allows individual judges to pass judgment as they see fit. In June last year, the committee of the Iranian parliament on legal and judicial matters recommended that the article on stonings be repealed pending revision of the penal code, which is currently being debated in parliament. A draft has been submitted to the Guardian Council and requires the assent of this body. The Guardian Council examines whether the laws are compatible with the constitution and with the precepts of Islam. I cannot say for sure, but apparently, the draft contains no reference to the punishment of stoning. However, the Guardian Council could also bring the article on stoning back into force.

The EU must therefore do everything in its power to bring about a statutory prohibition of stoning, and here it is important to appeal to the responsibility of the Iranian parliament. There remains serious concern regarding the fate of Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani. There is no certainty that she will not, in the end, be stoned. She could also be hanged as a result of her alleged involvement in the murder of her husband. Consequently we must call for an end to all executions in Iran, including hers. Moreover, a comprehensive independent legal review of her case must be initiated. This should already have started, and it is quite right that Baroness Ashton has called for precisely this.


  Charles Tannock, on behalf of the ECR Group. – Madam President, once again, this House finds itself discussing the brutal theocratic regime in Iran. The Iranian authorities mercilessly execute juveniles and young adults who committed crimes as children. Women who commit adultery are condemned under the Sharia law of Hud by stoning or lapidation under the category of so-called crimes of sexual misdemeanours.

Whereas most countries in the world which still impose the death penalty against adults do so exclusively for aggravated murder, Iran’s Islamic interpretation of capital crimes is extremely wide and includes homosexuality and adultery.

Today, I would like to raise the case of Ebrahim Hamidi, an 18-year-old facing execution for sodomy, even though his accuser has admitted to lying. According to supporters, the boy, who was 16 at the time, neither assaulted the other man, nor is he a homosexual – not that it should matter anyway. His lawyer, Mohammed Mostafaei, has had to go into hiding because of an arrest warrant.

I also raise the case of Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani, the topic of today’s debate. Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani has been accused of adultery, then corruption and indecency for appearing without a headscarf in a foreign journal, even though it was clearly a case of mistaken identity. To add insult to injury, she is now also accused of complicity in an alleged murder to which she was forced to confess when the case came under international scrutiny and pressure was applied on the Iranian regime.

We should be unswerving in our condemnation of Iran’s appalling human rights record, just as we are of its efforts to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons and its determination to destroy the state of Israel and crush all democratic dissent. There is also the case of the dual Dutch-Iranian national, Mrs Bahrami, who was arrested for belonging to a monarchist organisation.

Here in this House tonight, we appeal to the Iranian President to show some clemency, but I have to say I am not very hopeful.


  Jacky Hénin, on behalf of the GUE/NGL Group.(FR) Madam President, a huge wave of protests and concern is building up with regard to freedoms in Iran.

We want to offer our support to all those democrats who want the word justice to mean something. We strongly condemn the arrest and sentencing of Zahra Bahrami. We strongly condemn the arrest and sentencing to death by stoning of Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani. We demand their discharge and release. We wish to emphasise the need for all Member States to adhere to the values and principles of secularism, to avoid any confusion between the state and religion resulting in an unacceptable and anti-freedom association of crime with sin.

We wish to reaffirm our support for the abolition of the death penalty in every single country, and so we call on Iran’s judicial authorities to introduce a moratorium on capital punishment, to unequivocally prohibit executions for adultery and to abolish the use of torture, in accordance with international law.


  Francesco Enrico Speroni, on behalf of the EFD Group.(IT) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, I add my voice to all those that are calling for this barbaric act of stoning for adultery not to be perpetrated and for human rights to be respected – not only for Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani, but for all those women and also men who are in the same situation.

I would like to emphasise something that I heard the last speaker just touch on: much of what we are witnessing is the result of degeneracy, religious extremism and the fundamentalist application of Islamic law, which some people, unfortunately, would also like to introduce into our free and democratic Europe.


  Erminia Mazzoni (PPE).(IT) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, I should like to thank this House for having voted almost unanimously to bring forward the debate on this important topic.

The request, which was put forward by me together with Mrs Angelilli and signed by a great many of our fellow Members, was based on the hope of saving a life. Every day for Sakineh could be her last, and we cannot afford to waste any more time. Her sentence must not be carried out, because it is unacceptable.

The request goes even beyond that, however, because this woman’s experience is emblematic of so many other stories of Iranian women, as well as men and young people. Our mobilisation over Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani must be just the start of a new phase in our relations with Iran. The Iranian regime violates fundamental rights, tramples over the freedoms of women in particular and, above all, ignores appeals from the international community.

This House has already adopted resolutions on this issue, including two in the last year alone. The Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy issued two statements in June and July this year. The United Nations General Assembly has adopted several resolutions demanding a moratorium on executions pending the abolition of the death penalty. Just think, Iran now sits on the UN Commission on the Status of Women. The Iranian Government’s attitude seems to be saying: ‘If you want to deal with us, you must accept us as we are,’ and we cannot accept that.

The promotion of human rights is one of the pillars of the European Union’s foreign policy and it requires us to make a commitment. The stance we adopt towards this kind of affair may even jeopardise the integration process. All the national governments have mobilised and we must join them.

Young Iranians demonstrating in Italy said, ‘We do not believe we can achieve much; we may save a life, but we will not save Iran.’ By adopting severe sanctions, we must demonstrate that this mobilisation is just the first step and that we will press ahead and have no further relations with Iran, even to the extent of an embargo.


  Silvia Costa (S&D).(IT) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, through this debate – which frankly I was hoping would be rather better attended, because it deserves far greater participation – Parliament is seeking to add its voice to that of so many others around the world who have come out in recent days against the tragic death sentence by stoning for Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani, after the appeal by her son Sajad, and to save all the other women sentenced to death or unjustly imprisoned, like Zahra Bahrami, in summary trials in Iran.

In this age of globalisation, it is even more obvious that human rights and women’s rights are inseparable. If a woman dies after being tortured by stoning, our consciences and our freedoms will be stoned with her.

In our resolution, we urge both the European Union’s High Representative, Catherine Ashton, and the Commissioner for Human Rights, Viviane Reding – two powerful women – without further delay, to take all necessary steps with the Iranian Government and in international forums for the death sentence for Sakineh to be rescinded, for Zahra to be released, for the barbaric practice of stoning to be abandoned, and for renewed efforts to be made in the battle to achieve a moratorium on the death sentence and also to support the democratic opposition in Iran.

We, the Italian female Members in the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament, together with all our fellow Members, are holding a candlelight vigil tomorrow evening here in the courtyard of the European Parliament in Strasbourg. We are calling it ‘A light for Sakineh’s life’, and we ask all Members to take part so that darkness does not fall over this tragic, highly symbolic affair and so that the Iranian people and the Iranian opposition are not abandoned.

We are calling for more robust intervention from the Union because we believe that the defence of human rights, here and around the world, is an area where the European Union’s credibility and identity are at stake.


  Nicole Kiil-Nielsen (Verts/ALE).(FR) Madam President, the case of Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani, which obviously brings us together this evening, and which has mobilised many citizens in Europe, should also provide us with an opportunity to discuss the situation of a number of women.

I am thinking in particular of Zahra Bahrami, who is in the same situation. She is in danger of being executed following a trial that took place in similar conditions, that is to say, that she was subjected to pressure, isolation – total isolation – for several months, violence and torture in order to make confessions that subsequently, of course, are no longer recognised. The accusations are similar: waging war against God. She does not have access to either a lawyer or a defence counsel.

There is also the case mentioned just now of the young man, Ebrahim Hamidi, a minor who also has no lawyer, and the case of Shiva Nazar Ahari, a journalist and human rights defender. Amnesty International considers her a prisoner of conscience, and she is currently locked up in a cage in which she cannot move her arms or legs. She is also threatened with death.

I believe that it is to the credit of our Parliament that it is rallying in support of Mrs Mohammadi-Ashtiani’s case and of all these situations. We demand the abolition of the death penalty, a moratorium on all these executions, the immediate release of all those who have taken part in peaceful protests and, of course, the release of minors, because many minors are also sentenced to death in that country. We also urgently call for the International Committee of the Red Cross to be allowed to visit the prisoners.


  Oreste Rossi (EFD).(IT) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, a great many prominent members of civil society, political leaders, academics and representatives of non-governmental organisations and the Catholic Church have come out in favour of the release of Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani, a 42 year-old Iranian mother sentenced to death by stoning for alleged adultery. That sentence was handed down on the basis of a confession extracted after a punishment of 99 lashes.

The penalty of death by stoning may be considered a form of torture, in that the victim has to be buried so that only her head is left sticking out of the ground. The stones that can be thrown at her have to have sharp points and edges, but not such that they can kill her straight away, and her suffering while dying but still conscious must go on for not less than 20 minutes.

In recent years, hundreds of women of various ages have been stoned to death in Iran for the crime of adultery, and currently, at least 40 more women are in prison awaiting the same fate. In my view, it is absolutely essential for Parliament to speak out against this barbarism.


  Michèle Striffler (PPE).(FR) Madam President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, I am addressing you on behalf of my colleague, Mrs Dati, who drafted this resolution on behalf of the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) but who has, unfortunately, been held up in Paris today.

Mrs Dati wished to table this resolution for two reasons.

The first, of course, is that she wanted the European Parliament to join with the international organisations, governments and figures across the world that have taken a stand to defend Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani to call on the Iranian authorities to overturn her sentence of death by stoning.

An institution such as the European Parliament, which has always been at the forefront of human rights protection, cannot simply remain silent and must intervene in order to forcefully state its refusal to see Mrs Mohammadi-Ashtiani die. With this resolution, Parliament must say that it is not interference to point out all the universal values that constitute our common heritage.

The second rationale behind this resolution is that, quite apart from the specific case of Mrs Mohammadi-Ashtiani, Mrs Dati wanted to demonstrate the European Parliament’s strong commitment to combating all forms of violence towards women. It so happens that Mrs Mohammadi-Ashtiani has, in spite of herself, become a symbol of all these female victims of violence.

Our colleague, Mrs Oomen-Ruijten, has also subsequently drawn our attention to the case of Zahra Bahrami, that Dutch national who was arrested in Iran and forced to make televised confessions in order to admit to the accusations made against her. That is why we have included her in this motion for a resolution.

Ladies and gentlemen, we must be the voice of these two women, who can no longer defend themselves where they are. On behalf of Mrs Dati, I would simply ask you to vote overwhelmingly in favour, in order to offer your support while, at the same time, sending out a signal to those who impose such sentences.


  Ana Gomes (S&D).(PT) Sakineh Ashtiani, Ebrahim Hamidi, Nasrin Sotoodeh, Zahra Bahrami and Mohammad Mostafaei are just a handful amongst the thousands of victims of brutal persecution by the regime in Tehran. If they execute Ebrahim Hamidi, a minor, or Sakineh Ashtiani, who is threatened with the barbarity of death by stoning, in addition to being in violation of their country’s obligations as a signatory of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the authorities in Tehran will be responsible for heinous crimes that bring shame on the great Iranian civilisation.

A few days ago, I was at a demonstration in Lisbon – one of the many across the world against Sakineh Ashtiani’s conviction – hoping that voices such as that of President Lula da Silva of Brazil would be heard by the authorities in Tehran with whatever is left of their rationality, compassion and humanity.

From the point of view of the European Union’s relations with Iran, Madam President, the most important aspects of the resolution that we will adopt in this Chamber tomorrow are those that relate to the need for all those responsible for repression and the suppression of freedoms in Iran to be banned from travelling within the European Union and have their assets frozen, as well as the demand for the Commission and the Council to take measures to effectively help and protect those who fight for democracy and human rights in Iran. This has to do not just with what Iran is at the moment but also, above all, with what we in Europe are: defenders of the values of human rights and fundamental freedoms, which are not just European but universal.


  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE).(PT) Madam President, Sakineh Ashtiani is the face of the executions in Iran, and the symbol of the injustice of the country’s judicial proceedings and its violation of fundamental rights. I wish to add my voice to those of the international solidarity movements that are demanding that the sentence be quashed and Sakineh Ashtiani freed immediately: to demand her freedom is also to fight for equal rights for women, freedom of expression and freedom to actively participate in a free society.

I strongly support anti-discrimination causes and, in particular, the cause of Iranian women; I would stress their role in the struggle for democracy in Iran. The courage and determination of many Iranian women are an inspiration and we must support them in this struggle for democracy and for the future of Iran with peace, freedom and equal rights.


  Lena Kolarska-Bobińska (PPE). (PL) Madam President, condemnation of what is going on in Iran is extremely important as it is saving people’s lives, but it is also a signal which reaches the opposition and gives it the strength to act. We have to protect individuals. I think we need to have a detailed debate on what to do to be more effective. We announce various resolutions, hold debates, Mrs Ashton undertakes various measures, but there is no response. If we want to be seen by the world not only as defenders of certain values, if we want to ensure that human rights are not broken, and if we want to be seen not only as noble but also as effective in what we say, we have to have a separate debate on the types of action we should be involved in now and how we can be effective.


  Marc Tarabella (S&D).(FR) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, I propose stoning Iran. How can one accept this kind of barbaric treatment towards a human being?

Do you know that, during stoning, men are buried waist-high, and women up to their chests, for modesty’s sake probably? The Islamic Penal Code states that the projectiles must be chosen carefully. Average size is the rule. They must be neither too large, so that just one is not enough to kill, nor too small, so that they cannot be called stones. Moreover, the whole process must last a little under half an hour.

Also, what can we make of the reaction by Hani Ramadan, the director of the Islamic Centre of Geneva, who reassures us by saying that it is forbidden to insult the offenders and that prayers are said for them after their death? How cynical!

What can we in Europe do for the alleged criminal, Mrs Mohammadi-Ashtiani? I propose the right to asylum in Europe for Mrs Mohammadi-Ashtiani. I do not think that anyone has proposed this so far, and it is something that we could add to the resolution.


  Izaskun Bilbao Barandica (ALDE). (ES) Madam President, the sentence passed by the Iranian regime against Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani is one of the multiple human rights violations that must be condemned by Parliament.

As her son has announced, she could be executed after Ramadan, which is coming to an end. We do not therefore have much time and our reaction must be strong and emphatic enough to cause the Iranian authorities to respond by not carrying out the sentence.

This week, we shall hold a demonstration outside Parliament calling for her release. We ask all Members to support us in this attempt to prevent a barbaric act from being committed in the 21st century. That is our duty as Members, as citizens and, above all, as human beings. I ask Baroness Ashton, the Council and the Commissioner for Human Rights to be more forceful in condemning the violation of human rights and in demanding that international agreements and conventions be complied with, and to adopt every possible political measure to increase the pressure and ensure that Iran respects human rights.


  Krisztina Morvai (NI).(HU) I have been fighting against the phenomenon of violence against women for decades, for over twenty years, and in the past ten years as a lawyer involved in human rights and the rights of women. I have also written two books on the subject, so do not be mistaken: I am extremely opposed to all forms of violence against women. However, I would like to call Mrs Ashton’s attention to something different from the issues mentioned by others. I would like to invite her to come to Hungary, and let us finally clarify what types of human rights violations are taking place right here in Europe. They have no right to consistently disrupt the entire daily agenda – I do not know on how many occasions in the past year since I have been here in the European Parliament – to talk about the violation of human rights in Iran while eyes were shot out in Hungary in 2006 and innocent people were incarcerated for long periods of time during show trials, and the European Union did nothing at all. Today in Hungary, one of the opposition leaders has for one and a half …

(The President cut off the speaker)


  Barbara Matera (PPE).(IT) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, defending Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani means defending life, the right to life, and therefore the right to live.

The European Union Charter of Fundamental Rights as well as all our countries’ constitutions include among their principles the inviolable rights of the individual, with the right to dignity and to life in the first place.

This fight of ours must not be for one individual, but for all human beings who are being deprived of their lives anywhere in the world and for any reason. No rationale, tradition, religion, law or authority can dispose – and I mean dispose – of an individual’s life.

Heartfelt yet decisive action is needed against countries that authorise and carry out the death penalty or any other serious breach of human rights. In this matter, Europe must be decisive, stand firm and impose respect for these rights in its diplomatic and trade relations. Sakineh would not be the first victim. Let us tell them enough is enough.


  Dacian Cioloş, Member of the Commission. (FR) Madam President, firstly, on behalf of the Commission, I should like to thank Parliament for this debate, for the support that has been clearly shown here for respect for human rights.

I can assure you, on behalf of the Commission, that everything possible will be done to ensure that the Iranian authorities come to the negotiating table and that these issues can be clarified during diplomatic discussions.

I can also assure you, on behalf of Baroness Ashton, that we are not limiting ourselves to public statements alone, and, in this connection, I can tell you that a further meeting between the EU Presidency’s local representatives in Iran and the Iranian Government will be held on 29 August. The Commission and the High Representative will continue their efforts to obtain results.


  President. – The debate is closed. The vote will take place on Wednesday at 12:00.

Written statements (Rule 149)


  Mara Bizzotto (EFD), in writing.(IT) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, this debate is necessary today because this House, too, is joining the great international effort to halt executions in Iran, particularly the stoning of young Sakineh. Yet, as often happens, debates of this sort are always poised on the razor’s edge, with barely enough time to prevent executions or other cases involving gross violations of human rights. We should instead think of what kind of action we could take to eradicate the causes of human rights violations in the world: causes such as dictatorships, theocracies, Islamic radicalism and totalitarianism. As regards the specific case of Iran, I would like to hope that no one here is under the illusion that the action we take, the action that the European Parliament takes in the sphere of relations with Iran can stop at the resolutions we are voting on, however righteous and however much we may agree with them. It is not tolerable that the theocrats of Tehran and the fanatics who govern that country should come here to this Parliament, as happened a couple of months ago, and lecture us on democracy. The action that we take should provide the impulse for the EU to tackle the issue of relations with Tehran firmly, unambiguously and decisively.


  Zita Gurmai (S&D), in writing. – The crimes Ms Ashtiani is charged with are fictitious and obscure. She has been tortured and coerced during the judicial process. She has been deprived of all legal guarantees. Her lawyer has been harassed by the authorities. This is an outrageous process. She was convicted of adultery in the first place. It is unbelievable that such a case should even be heard! No human power has the right to enter people’s bedrooms as long as their private life is consensual and loving. Human life is not reproducible; each life is valuable in its singularity. It must be cherished and protected, even in criminal procedures. Therefore, the death penalty is, in itself, unacceptable. There is no moral or religious justification for the death penalty. Those who believe that ‘God created man in his own image’ should object to it on the grounds that no man has the right to destroy a likeness of God or take his greatest gift: life. I am delighted that European countries have raised their voices against this brutal prosecution. Ms Ashtiani was whipped two days ago, and her son fears she may be executed after Ramadan. I hope we won’t run out of time.

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