May 16, 2017

Members of the European Parliament Warn Iranian Government to Stop Pre-election Repression of Journalists and Activists

Photo courtesy of: Giorgio Barlocco 2013 @Flickr

This week 29 Members of European Parliament (MEPs) appealed to Federica Mogherini – High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs – in a public letter, to call upon the Iranian government to end the pre-election crackdown against journalists and activists. The letter points out that the Iranian government has been carrying out numerous summons, arrests of journalists, activists and students, and is blocking means of communication to intensify the current crackdown.  Moreover, the letter highlights how a fair and free election is essential and how important it is for it to be monitored by international observers, as it will have a broad impact on the future of the Islamic Republic of Iran and its relationship with the EU itself. MEPs also called for the release of unjustly detained journalists, political prisoners and Telegram group administrators from detention.

The article below was published by Center for Human Rights in Iran

 

 

This week 29 members of the European Parliament wrote a public letter to Federica Mogherini, the high representative of the European Union for foreign affairs and security policy, urging the EU to call upon the Iranian government to stop the pre-election intimidation campaign against journalists and activists that has been ongoing in the run-up to the country’s May 19 elections for president and local councils.

 

The Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) joins these parliamentarians in urging the government of Iran to immediately cease the arrests, summoning and harassment that have been undermining the public space for open debate that is necessary for free and fair elections.

“This letter shows the international community is keenly aware of the ongoing crackdown and watching the Iranian government’s actions,” said Hadi Ghaemi, executive director of CHRI.

 

“Iran should know it cannot improve its relationship with the rest of the world while it tramples on the people’s basic rights, and that business interests and the legitimate rights of the Iranian people are inseparable,” continued Ghaemi.

 

The letter by the MEPs notes, “There have been numerous summons and arrests of journalists, activists and students… and blocking of means of communications and filtering of online platforms.”

It goes on to state, “unjustly detained journalists, political prisoners and Telegram group administrators should be released from detention,” and that the authorities “must allow full access to the internet and social media platforms, in line with the use by the leadership of the Islamic Republic itself, which is fervently communicating online.”

 

The 29 MEPs warn, “The outcome of these elections will have a profound impact on the future of the Islamic Republic, and as a consequence on EU-Iran relations as well. It is essential that these elections are free and fair, and that they are monitored by independent observers.”

 

The letter concludes, “The authorities of the Islamic Republic of Iran should institute all necessary measures to respect their international and domestic obligations to guarantee free and fair elections,” noting that “the relationship between the EU and Iran can only be successful when accompanied by respect for the rights and wellbeing of people in Iran.”

 

The letter is re-printed in its entirety below.

Letter to High Representative Mogherini

13 May 2017

Brussels, 12 May 2017

Honourable High Representative, Federica,

 

We, the undersigned Members of European Parliament supported the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action as well as the ongoing development of a broad agenda for EU-Iran relations. We recognise the leadership by the EU in facilitating the JCPOA negotiations, as well as in seeking ways to make sure the lifting of sanctions benefits the population in Iran. Their rights and wellbeing have always been at the core of our concern, and remain so today.

 

On May 19th, the Presidential elections are scheduled to take place in the Islamic Republic of Iran. The outcome of these elections will have a profound impact on the future of the Islamic Republic, and as a consequence on EU-Iran relations as well. It is essential that these elections are free and fair, and that they are monitored by independent observers.

 

Already, there is additional repression taking place in the run up to the elections. There have been numerous summons and arrests of journalists, activists and students. Intimidation also occurs. Activists have expressed fears of an intensification of the current crackdown, with the blocking of means of communications and filtering of online platforms. Recently, journalists and administrators of twelve groups on Telegram were arrested by the Revolutionary Guards Intelligence Organization and the Intelligence Ministry. After that, Telegram’s Voice Call Service has been shut down. Despite systematic restrictions to speech, and to accessing the open internet, social media channels have remained important means for people to connect with each other. The unjustly detained journalists, political prisoners and Telegram group administrators should be released from detention.

The Iranian authorities should protect journalists and civil society actors and must allow full access to the internet and social media platforms, in line with the use by the leadership of the Islamic Republic itself, which is fervently communicating online. The authorities of the Islamic Republic of Iran should institute all necessary measures to respect their international and domestic obligations to guarantee free and fair elections.

We call on you to convey to your counterparts and to the other relevant authorities in the Islamic Republic of Iran that further development of the relationship between the EU and Iran can only be successful when accompanied by respect for the rights and wellbeing of people in Iran.

Sincerely,

Marietje Schaake (ALDE)

Ana Gomes (S&D)

Barbara Lochbihler (GREENS/EFA)

Tunne Kelam (EPP)

Helga Stevens (ECR)

Damiano Zoffoli (S&D)

Nathalie Griesbeck (ALDE)

Ana Fotyga (ECR)

Julie Ward (S&D)

Kati Piri (S&D)

Sophie in ‘t Veld (ALDE)

Renate Weber (ALDE)

Jytte Guteland (S&D)

Brando Benifei (S&D)

Robert Rochefort (ALDE)

Boris Zala (S&D)

Gerard Deprez (ALDE)

Julie Girling (ECR)

Frederique Ries (ALDE)

Csaba Sogor (EPP)

Marian Harkin (ALDE)

Nessa Childers (S&D)

Beatriz Becerra (ALDE)

Dietmar Koster (S&D)

Jordi Sole (GREENS/EFA)

Javier Nart (ALDE)

Ivan Stefanec (EPP)

Norica Nicolai (ALDE)

Hilde Vautmans (ALDE)