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Verbatim report of proceedings
Thursday, 17 November 2011 - Strasbourg OJ edition

11.1. Iran - recent cases of human rights violations
Video of the speeches

  President. – The next item is the debate on seven motions for resolution on Iran – recent cases of human rights violations(1).


  Bastiaan Belder, author. – (NL) Mr President, at this moment, Ayatollah Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, has the life of the Iranian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani is his hands. Nadarkhani has been sentenced to death for apostasy, or rejecting Islam. This is a court sentence that directly contravenes Iran’s constitution, its criminal law and also international treaty obligations that Tehran has entered into.

A pronouncement from Khamenei releasing him should, in all reason, be on the verge of being issued. However, given that that has still not happened means that those close to Nadarkhani, the condemned pastor, fear a dramatic end to his case in the mostly quiet Christmas period of 2011.

I call on you all – ladies and gentlemen, the Council and the Commission – to not leave Nadarkhani in the lurch. Raise your voices! Call on the Iranian authorities to exonerate him!

An Iranian journalist called me late last night. I can still hear her voice asking why Europe was making so little noise when Nadarkhani’s life hung in the balance. It is up to us, up to the European institutions, to give this pressing question a convincing, dignified answer. It goes without saying that the same applies to all the violations of fundamental civil rights in Iran that are on the agenda this afternoon.


  Marie-Christine Vergiat, author. (FR) Mr President, today we are examining a resolution on Iran, as part of the urgent resolutions; this is the sixth time we have done so since the start of the legislative term and the third time since the start of the year. I shall support this resolution, the terms of which I obviously endorse. However, once again, I am going to protest against the double standards that prevail in this House where human rights are concerned.

All over the world, men, women and children are being arrested, tortured and executed, but in many countries this is happening amid a deafening silence, including from the European Parliament.

I should like to give an example: this morning a young Tunisian, aged 27, was executed in Iraq. He protested his innocence until the end, and his father says that he was tortured into confessing. Fifty-two others were sentenced at the same time as him and can expect to be executed at any time in Iraq, as the country’s President has ratified their sentence. The European Parliament has not voted on a single resolution on Iraq since July 2009.

Ladies and gentlemen, I shall let you be the judge of that.


  Corina Creţu, author.(RO) Mr President, we are discussing again the human rights situation in Iran, which confirms our fears about the practice of the government in Tehran of responding to legitimate public discontent by resorting to force and abusive measures, in contempt for international public opinion. The abuses committed by the Iranian authorities concern in particular minority groups, whether they are religious groups, journalists, women or human rights activists. Any attempt to form a responsible civil society and any kind of rejection of the government methods used by those in power in Iran are brutally suppressed.

Iran should give some answers to the legitimate objections and concerns expressed by the international community about the human rights situation. It has chosen to do this by increasing internal repression and restricting even more the freedom of expression, as well as other civil rights and freedoms. This attitude fully justifies the sanctions that have been imposed by the international community. The government in Tehran must show reason and put a stop to the abusive practices it currently resorts to.


  Adam Bielan, author. (PL) Mr President, persecution of opposition and repressions on charges of so-called religious offences require a decisive and condemning response from our side. A most recent horrendous example is the case of the actress Marzieh Vafamehr, sentenced to a year in prison and 90 lashes for starring in a film dealing with infringement on artistic freedom. This sentence is even more preposterous since no specific charges have been defined nor has the sentence ever been substantiated.

In developing economic contacts with Iran the EU countries must proceed from this absolute priority – prisoners of conscience must be freed, and among them Pastor Yousef Nadar Khani, who has been sentenced to capital punishment. This is why I am appealing to the Council so that European companies are held back until repressions against Iranian residents are eased and pressure can be applied through coordinated sanctions. This is the only possible way to persuade the authorities of Teheran to cooperate with the UN, providing its special envoy with unrestricted control in all parts of the country.


  Cristian Dan Preda, author.(RO) Mr President, one minute is far too short to recite the litany of human rights violations in Iran. As we all know, these include arrests and arbitrary detention, unfair trials, torture and degrading treatment, discrimination against various minorities and the death penalty. I am going to speak about the last item. As we are aware, the global trend is towards abolishing the death penalty. Several UN resolutions call for a global moratorium to be introduced. In spite of these actions, Iran remains the country with the highest proportion of death penalty sentences per capita. In most cases, these executions actually take place in secret. Various reports mention that more than 300 secret executions were carried out last year. Sometimes minors are victims of these executions.

I would actually like to add my voice to that of my colleague who demanded the immediate release of Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, accused of apostasy because he converted to Christianity at the age of 19. In conclusion, I believe that the dialogue on human rights between the European Union and Iran must be resumed to be able to raise the issue of the death penalty, not to mention the other human rights violations.


  Marietje Schaake, author. – Mr President, where to start? The nuclear dossier dominates our political agendas and campaign rhetoric, but let us never forget the ongoing human rights violations in Iran. These are always important, but especially with regard to the upcoming elections in spring of next year. With opposition candidates in de facto imprisonment, the ongoing crackdown on citizens, women’s rights, free speech, media online and offline, torture and rape in prisons and the execution rate higher than it has ever been – higher than in China – including juveniles, the situation is very, very dire.

In light of all these atrocities, we may wonder what we can do to help the brave Iranians. The future of Iran lies in the hands of the Iranian people and I am confident that they will prevail, but even with EU and UN sanctions in place, EU-based ICT companies continue to provide spyware, surveillance, monitoring, tracking and tracing technologies and know-how to those in power in Iran.

We must end the facilitation of censorship, the hampering of press freedom and access to information, and the crackdown on people facilitated by EU-based companies. Dual use regulations are not enough: we need EU-wide standards, licensing before trade and, most importantly, mechanisms to forge transparency and accountability to ensure that EU-based ICT companies do not undermine the EU’s strategic interests and, most importantly, the human rights of Iranian people.


  Barbara Lochbihler, author.(DE) Mr President, recent headlines in the international media are once again drawing attention to the nuclear conflict with Iran. For this reason it is right that we in the European Parliament should focus on the continuing seriousness of the situation in respect of human rights and that we should not allow this to be forgotten.

Our resolution enumerates the various serious human rights violations meted out to many of Iran’s citizens. This is a terrible, horrific and very lengthy list. As an example I would draw attention to the humiliating practice of whipping students. We are now demanding that the Iranian penal code should be amended and that corporal punishment should be abolished.

In his interim report the UN Special Rapporteur on Iran has spoken of a deteriorating situation regarding human rights, referring to a ‘systematic programme of torture’. We call on the Iranian Government to take this report seriously and to allow the UN Special Rapporteur to enter the country immediately.

Our resolution is also intended for businesses located in the EU that supply technical expertise and equipment to Iran. This technology has helped the regime to persecute human rights activists and to suppress civil protest.

The Iranian Government has let it be known that it is developing an Internet system that will operate in parallel with or as an alternative to the open worldwide Internet system. This will adhere to Islamic principles, as a kind of Halal network. If one takes a closer look, it becomes evident that this will be a mechanism for controlling and regulating the public at large, although there will be exceptions for banks and traders.

I am highly critical of the fact that technology is being supplied to Iran from Europe that permits censorship, filtering and surveillance. I would call on businesses to put a stop to such practices, as otherwise they share responsibility for the human rights violations committed there.

I would therefore ask all of you to sign the amendments that we have proposed.


  Monica Luisa Macovei, on behalf of the PPE Group.(RO) Mr President, Iran is one of the few countries where, in the 21st century, ordinary people are brought before a court and made to choose between their beliefs and life. This is the state of affairs confirmed by Human Rights Watch in connection with Pastor Nadarkhani, who has been sentenced to death by hanging. The report of 4 November from the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights mentions the high number of executions, including in public and by stoning, the use of torture, the cruelty of sentences, such as the amputation of limbs, arbitrary arrests, unfair trials, discrimination, the draconian restriction on the freedom of expression and association, all of which are warnings which we must heed urgently. I deplore the decision made on Monday by the Foreign Affairs Council, which postponed the tightening of sanctions against Iran. We must show more courage and send a clear, consistent message. Respect for human rights is non-negotiable for us.


  Ana Gomes, on behalf of the S&D Group.(PT) Mr President, this resolution of the European Parliament provides a detailed account of the litany of barbaric violations of human rights, including torture, rape and executions, which are systematically committed against Iranian citizens by the current regime.

I admire the cosmopolitan sophistication and the cultural and political richness of Iranian civilisation, and I know that ultimately the regime’s repressiveness and tyranny only reflect the insecurity, fear, weakness and feeling of illegitimacy of those who hold power in Iran today and are oppressing the Iranian people. This is clearly shown by the regime’s refusal to cooperate with the United Nations rapporteur and to allow him access to the victims of these barbaric acts.

I believe that the European Union must use its imagination and do everything it can to support those who are bravely fighting for human rights and fundamental freedoms in Iran.

Against this background, it is particularly worrying and unacceptable that European companies can be providing the Iranian authorities with technology that enables them to refine their censorship. These companies will be exposed. We will do everything possible in this House to punish these companies appropriately and to make an example of them.


  Anneli Jäätteenmäki, on behalf of the ALDE Group. – Mr President, here we are once again discussing the human rights situation and violations in Iran. This seems to be a never-ending, or at least a recurring, theme of our urgency debates. The people of Iran deserve human rights, democracy and freedom. However, human rights activists and civil rights activist are being detained, judicial processes fall far short of EU and European standards, women’s rights are not respected, and the principle of freedom of expression is violated on a daily basis.

I am particularly appalled by the fact that, to date, 42 lawyers have been arrested and prosecuted for their attempts to provide legal help to political prisoners and activists. The Arab Spring has shown that people’s striving for human rights and true freedom is deeply rooted. Those rights should not be compromised. Eventually, the Iranian people will, I am sure, raise their voice for the human and civil rights they deserve. In the meantime the EU shall – and should – keep the question high on its agenda.


  Peter van Dalen, on behalf of the ECR Group. – (NL) Mr President, if in Iran you do not go along with the twin dictators Khamenei and Ahmadinejad, you literally do not have a life. No one is safe. Women are stoned; youths are hung.

Of all Iranians, it seems to me that converted Christians are definitely the most vulnerable. This year, President Ahmadinejad launched a campaign against Christians under the slogan ‘We need to put a stop to the development of Christianity in Iran’. Sadly, it was no empty threat. Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani has been in prison for two years already and has been sentenced to death because he has converted to Christianity. In the meantime, more than 200 Christians have already been taken into custody.

I urge the High Commissioner and Commissioner Damanaki to put in place severe sanctions against Iran – it is high time that this were done. Let the EU also push both Russia and China to do likewise, as that is key. They are refusing to get involved, but now is the time for action. The time for talking has passed.


  Paul Murphy, on behalf of the GUE/NGL Group. – Mr President, it is a real testament to the bravery of ordinary people in Iran that, despite the massive oppression they are faced with, despite the executions, despite the torture, despite the jailings, there have still been mass popular movements of discontent over the past years in Iran.

Recently there has been an upsurge in workers’ struggles, as workers have been fighting to form independent trade unions that can really represent their interests.

Massive strike waves amongst the Teheran bus workers, in the sugar cane industry, amongst teachers, in the petrochemical complexes in Bandar have all been met by brutal crackdowns by the regime, including the hanging of a teacher in the last year and the arrest of many, many workers.

However, the gross violations of human rights that are perpetrated by the dictatorship in Iran, and this resolution that we will pass today in Parliament, must not be used as a pretext by European leaders to engage in military action or support military action or to impose sanctions that will simply harm the people of Iran.

Instead the trade union and workers’ movement must increase its efforts to highlight the abuses of human rights, the abuses of workers’ rights in Iran, and to support the struggles of working people, young people, poor people, to achieve fundamental change within Iran.


  Jaroslav Paška, on behalf of the EFD Group.(SK) Mr President, we have already discussed criticism of the Iranian regime for repeated and persistent serious human rights violations on several occasions. It is, however, clear from the ongoing developments in the country that the assertion of the policy of radical Islam there is taking an ever more brutal form. The growing repression against opponents of the regime, defenders of human rights, journalists, students and the lawyers who defend them, and even against family members, is increasing in severity and intensity. The investigative bodies and Iranian judiciary have become an extended arm of the political will of a fanatical regime and persecute anyone who even suggests that they have doubts about the power of the Iranian State.

I firmly believe that our efforts for a return of freedom and humanity to the Iranian State administration must follow two paths. The first is to continue to appeal to the official State structures to respect internationally recognised human values, to value human life and human dignity, and to respect freedom of opinion and expression. The second path is to document all known cases of criminal conduct by State institutions, judicial authorities and security forces and to forward them to the International Criminal Tribunal for consideration.


  Seán Kelly (PPE). – Mr President, when it comes to Iran one is inclined to despair; human rights and Iran are as far apart as one end of the ocean is from the other. There are hundreds of examples, the Nadarkhani case being the particular one we are highlighting today: a man arrested and in danger of being executed, possibly at any minute, for a charge called apostasy of religion. It seems that in Iran the policy is one state, one religion.

Anybody who does not embrace Islam is in danger of being executed or arrested or whatever at any particular time; whether they are male or female, young or old it does not seem to matter. Iran is up there with China in terms of the number of executions per annum; around 300 and many of them actually taking place in secret. This is despite the fact that Iran is party to international conventions and covenants which guarantee human rights. I think that it is time we took firmer action as an EU institution to highlight this and support the people of Iran in their struggle.


  Mitro Repo (S&D).(FI) Mr President, the list of human rights violations in Iran is a very long one. There have been clampdowns by the authorities on civil activists, political activists, journalists, artists, lawyers and environmentalists.

At the same time, in Iran there is routine trampling on the rights of women, freedom of association and the rights of religious and ethnic minorities. The number of those receiving the death penalty in Iran only continues to increase, and even children, women and young people are known to have been brutally executed. The fate of those languishing in prison has been inhumane conditions and even torture. Trials have not been independent.

Iran’s casual attitude to its international human rights obligations must be condemned in no uncertain words. For adherence to the principles of freedom of religion, a ban on the use of torture, the rights of minorities and other universal human rights are the only sustainable basis for social balance. Iran is playing a dangerous game, because there are limits to a nation’s tolerance.


  Tomasz Piotr Poręba (ECR).(PL) Mr President, in this House we have been repeatedly calling upon the Iranian authorities to demonstrate respect for fundamental human rights and discontinue repressions against their own society: be it those who are in active opposition to the regime or human rights activists, lawyers, journalists and directors as well as those who are subject to persecution as a result of their views. Regrettably up till now this has produced negligible results. This is why today, apart from verbal declarations, we should resort to all available forms of pressure on the Iranian regime in order to force them to respect human rights and punish individuals personally responsible for their violation.

The special list comprising names of officials whose bank accounts have been frozen and to whom entry to the EU has been denied should also include every single name of those known to take part in such activities. We must also conduct a close examination of current economic sanctions and adjust them accordingly, so as to stop goods and equipment from Europe enabling the Iranian authorities to follow and persecute their citizens from ending up in Iran, whereas such occasions, unfortunately, do take place. Thank you.


  Eduard Kukan (PPE).(SK) Mr President, today’s regime in Iran, which uses violence as an instrument of power to torture its opponents, must be condemned and sanctions must be imposed against it. Executions, death sentences, violations of the rights of people under arrest, condemnations of defenders of civil rights, and non-compliance with fundamental agreements on civil and political rights are not acceptable by any standards.

All this is happening in Iran at a time when authoritarian regimes in the Arab world are changing and when we express our support for and solidarity with fighters for human rights in that part of the world. I believe that respect for fundamental human rights is the basis for the normal functioning of any society, regardless of which faith, culture or ethnic group predominates. I also believe that growing repression against those fighting for their basic rights cannot be tolerated forever. I fully support the resolution that has been proposed.


  George Sabin Cutaş (S&D).(RO) Mr President, I wish to highlight today Camp Ashraf located in Iraq, which accommodates 3 400 Iranian dissidents living in extremely tough conditions. The UN announced recently that these people must be protected internationally from the persecution they are subjected to in their own country and called for their fundamental rights to be respected. However, the Iraqi prime minister declared that he would like to close the camp by the end of this year, thereby creating the conditions for an extremely dire humanitarian situation.

In light of this, the European Union’s appointment of a representative responsible for Camp Ashraf is a positive step. This is why I believe that he must be involved in having the deadline for disbanding the camp postponed until the refugees can be transferred safely to third countries. It is also the duty of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees to administer rapidly the process of resettling these persons and guarantee them protection. The situation of the Iranian asylum seekers in Camp Ashraf can only be resolved peacefully.


  Romana Jordan Cizelj (PPE).(SL) Mr President, yesterday, in the European Parliament, we heard about the torture and abuse that people are suffering in Iranian prisons, and heard about what is happening to them in the street, or even in their own homes and at university. It is disgusting that the Iranian authorities have such a misogynistic policy!

I would also like to draw your attention to the plight of the refugees in Camp Ashraf, because the Iraqi government has decided to close this camp, this refugee camp, by the end of the year. We have very little time to decide how to ensure the safety of these people; therefore I expect more resolute decision-making from the European Union. I call on Baroness Ashton to condemn this act, this decision of the Iraqi government, which I myself also condemn, and call on the United Nations Refugee Agency to urgently interview these people and ensure their safety.

The worst thing that can happen is that these people remain in Iraq. It is crucial that we ensure they can be resettled in third countries.


  Michael Cashman (S&D). – Mr President, I welcome this resolution but I want to make one correction. Iran is not an Islamic republic: it is a brutal dictatorship that uses and abuses and perverts religion for its own barbaric ends. This dictatorship also targets and persecutes people who are Muslim as well as other religions. We have stood by and we have watched people being hung by their neck, young men of 18 hung by their neck solely because they were homosexual. And still they target homosexuals and transgender people, and deny them access to health, goods, services, housing, and education. But I am optimistic, because despite these crackdowns, despite this brutality, men and women continually rise up against this regime, and their hope should give us hope and our voices must speak for them.


  Rui Tavares (Verts/ALE).(PT) Mr President, with the few seconds I have, I am going to confine myself to commemorating a name and to launching an appeal. The name is Dr Abdul-Reza Soudbakhsh, a physician and professor at Tehran University, who visited and examined the victims of Kahrizak prison, known for holding opponents of the Iranian regime, and who did not cover up his conclusions that those victims had died as a result of acts of torture.

However, Dr Abdul-Reza Soudbakhsh himself has since been murdered.

The appeal is as follows: the fact that we know that there are European companies collaborating with the Iranian regime, whether by blocking opposition television broadcasts or by providing censorship software, is an offence to the memory of courageous people like this Iranian man.

We must tell the Commission, which is here in this debate, that companies which collaborate in the violation of human rights should not receive a penny in European subsidies.

It is possible to do this using existing legal bases. However, we can do more. I do not understand how the Commission can fine companies for breaching competition laws, for example, but it cannot fine European companies who sully Europe’s name by collaborating in the breach of human rights.

I would like to hear a response from the Commission to this appeal, and I want all of us to unite to ensure that these companies do not receive a penny out of the pockets of European citizens.


  Ryszard Czarnecki (ECR).(PL) Mr President, a regime sets about tightening the screws when it is either aware of its growing feebleness or has a sense of total impunity. We are dealing, probably, with the latter case; the official Tehran is likely to believe that no one from the outside – neither the European Union nor the United States – is capable of administering a public upbraiding and influencing their decisions. Thus, our responsibility is only greater.

I totally agree that we must do all we can to avoid hypocrisy and double standards. If the European Union is striving to safeguard human rights, Iran included, then we ought not to support, finance and offer grants to businesses supportive of the regime in Tehran. I believe we are called upon to be completely transparent and unequivocal with respect to this issue. We remember yet another thing: we, as the European Parliament, are not omnipotent but we must feel that we have done everything in our power to save as many innocent people as we can.


  Paul Rübig (PPE).(DE) Mr President, Commissioner, I think we should avoid making blanket judgments. Of course the people of Iran have a right to democracy. I believe we should seek to identify individual culpability and prosecute those who violate human rights at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, making it clear which individuals are responsible for the suffering there.

Sanctions against the people will simply strengthen the hand of the perpetrators and this cannot be what the European Union wants. We do not need to punish the innocent by imposing sanctions on them. Instead we need legally binding judgments against the perpetrators.

The question we must ask is: how can we support the democratic forces in Iran? What can we do to help those who are on our side? I expect an answer from the Commission on this point.


  Peter Skinner (S&D). – Mr President, we as Europeans have a responsibility to stop the export of any technology which is being used to oppress anyone in the world, but particularly in Iran. Whether it is spyware or other technology or other software, if we can track its source and can track it to Europe, then we must take action to stop it.

We will not see large-scale shootings in the streets like we have seen in Libya or Syria. The regime in Iran is too cunning to expose its brutality in this way. The state security apparatus is one of the most effective and cruel in its abuse of the people. Therefore, allowing any form of assistance, even if it appears neutral – such as technology to track protestors – is simply going to make us all complicit in their repression.


  Maria Damanaki, Member of the Commission. – Mr President, on behalf of the High Representative and the Commission as a whole, I welcome this resolution.

I would like to stress that the human rights situation in the Islamic Republic of Iran is dreadful and is deteriorating. Abuses committed by the Iranian authorities are harming more and more individuals and organisations and worsening the climate of fear and suspicion.

Human rights defenders, lawyers, political leaders, students and journalists are harassed, imprisoned, sometimes tortured. Religious minorities, homosexuals, women’s activists, artists and film-makers are also targeted.

Iran continues to ignore its international obligations and its people have nowhere to turn. Frequent arrests of human rights defenders and lawyers, the interruptions of Internet and the interceptions of mobile phone communications, the situation of religious minorities, the continued house arrest of political leaders and the extremely high number of executions are sad and striking illustrations of this trend.

A lot of you referred to some special cases, so let me also give you some information.

Referring to the Christian pastor, Youcef Nadarkhani, we are on the same line as Parliament. Iran must live up to its international human rights obligations, also on freedom of religion. The High Representative has publicly called on Iran to release Mr Nadarkhani and drop the apostasy charges against him, and is following this case closely.

We are also on your side and have condemned publicly the detention and sentencing of prominent film-makers and artists you have referred to: Jafar Panahi and Mrs Vafamehr. We welcome the release of Mrs Vafamehr, but remain very concerned at the targeting of the artistic community which threatens the expression of artistic freedom.

We agree with your call on Iran to put a moratorium on the death penalty and to help all pending cases. An issue of particular concern is the execution of juvenile offenders, as happened last September. This is really appalling.

The European Union is therefore actively working on trying to improve the human rights situation in Iran. Let me give you some examples of our actions.

We use public diplomacy: the impressive number of public statements this year on human rights in Iran reflects the gravity of the situation. Nothing more or less than that. In order to reach out to an Iranian public, the statements are translated into Farsi and posted on the web with alerts from the High Representative via Twitter.

In Tehran and in Brussels, EU services continue to demarche Iran on human rights cases, seeking information and conveying our messages strongly.

The United Nations’ General Assembly will this year again consider a resolution on human rights in Iran, which enjoys full EU backing. We also want access to Iran for the United Nations special rapporteur, Dr Shaheed, whose mandate was created at our initiative.

In April and in October this year, EU Foreign Ministers adopted the list of 61 Iranian individuals responsible for great human rights violations. So we are not going against the Iranian people, we are going against Iranian individuals. Their assets in the EU are frozen and they cannot travel here.

In parallel to the sanctions, we have let Iran know that we are open for contacts on human rights.

Let me finish by saying that there is unfortunately no country in the world that receives as much attention on human rights from the EU as Iran does. This House should have no doubt about our determination to do what we can to promote and protect human rights in Iran. I know the European Parliament shares this extreme concern and I thank you for that.


  President. – The debate is closed.

The vote will take place shortly.

Written statements (Rule 149)


  Tadeusz Zwiefka (PPE), in writing.(PL) While the European Union respects autonomy of third countries it cannot turn a blind eye to such burning issues as the use of capital punishment. Iran is a country where executions of citizens are carried out at a level among the highest in the world. Thanks to efforts undertaken by numerous non-governmental organisations, multiple cases of human rights violations by the Iranian authorities have now been documented. Fundamental rights that should be enjoyed by every human being are not respected in Iran. Furthermore, according to the UN, the executions are carried out on an even greater scale than is registered in the official data, for many executions are performed in secret. Recent arrests and death penalties are mostly applied to either human rights activists who make their beliefs public, or to political opponents of those in power. The Iranian regime is indefatigable in imposing the atmosphere of intimidation while public unrests are exacerbated by the continuous use of violence, arrests or judicial harassment.

As representatives of the European Community we must raise our voices on behalf of those who are denied their rights. We must direct the attention of the whole of Europe to the plight of those whose rights are continuously infringed upon. The European Parliament, in its capacity of an advocate of human rights, freedom of speech and democracy, must exhort the Iranian authorities to abolish capital punishment immediately, free the accused and respect human rights. Only by going down this route shall we maintain and further develop political and economic relations between Iran and European Union.


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