Jan 11, 2007

Ahwazi: Question Asked of European Council

Paulo Casaca MEP has asked the Council on 28 November 2006 about its follow up to a resolution condemning the treatment of minorities within Iran.

Following an extensive campaigned by UNPO and other international organisation, the European Parliament passed in November 2006 a strongly worded condemnation of Iran’s treatment of religious and ethnic minorities within its borders, and of its use of mass executions as a weapon of fear and oppression.  

[Read UNPO Appeal Here]
[Read the Resolution Here]

At the time, 10 Ahwazi Arab activists had recently been sentenced to death following highly irregular and secretive one-day trials. International pressure, including that of the European Parliament and European Parliamentarians, was however successful in delaying their execution.

8 January 2007 saw however death sentences for an additional 7 Ahwazi Arabs, underlining that Iran’s campaign against minority activists is continuing. UNPO has issued an urgent appeal also for a halt to the executions of these men.

[Read the Appeal Here]

In this respect, UNPO warmly welcomes actions taken by Members of the European Parliament to ensure attention remains focused on these cases. Below is a question submitted by Mr. Paulo Casaca MEP to the European Council on 28 November 2006, along with the response of the Council:

Subject: Mass Arabs Execution by Iranian Regime
By Mr. Paulo Casaca MEP

The European Parliament forwarded to the Council its last resolution on Iran (P6_TA(2006)0503), adopted on 16 November 2006, which calls on the Iranian authorities to suspend immediately the imminent execution of eleven men from the region of Khuzestan.

Does the Council know if the Iranian authorities took this appeal into due consideration? Can it guarantee respect for the well-being and security of the following Arabs: Abdullah Suleymani, Abdulreza Sanawati Zergani, Qasem Salamat, Mohammad Jaab Pour, Abdulamir Farjallah Jaab, Alireza Asakreh, Majed Alboghubaish, Khalaf Derhab Khudayrawi, Malek Banitamim, Sa'id Saki and Abdullah Al Mansouri?

Is the Presidency able to present any evolution on the respect for minorities in Iran, in particular the Arabic minority?

Answer from the Council

The reply hereby presented by the presidency of the Council does not bind the Council, nor its members. It was not presented orally during the question-hour session at the European Parliament Session in Strasbourg of December 2006.

The Council received worrying information according to which some men, members of the Arab minority in Iran, are facing the risk of imminent execution.

The EU brought this case directly to the Iranian government and to the Director of the country’s justice system.

The EU condemns the death penalty and works for its abolition in all circumstances. In the case of Iran, the Council condemned the use of capital punishment, and the growing number of executions. The EU constantly presents this issue, as well as other urgent questions related to Human Rights, to Iran and to International Organisation, especially in the United Nations. On its part, the EU supported the resolution of the United Nation’s General Assembly concerning the situation of Human Rights in Iran, adopted by its third commission on 21st November 2006, which calls upon Iran to cease; in its legislation and in practice; the use of public and other type of execution, which does not conform to internationally recognized standards. Moreover, the Council urged Iran’s authorities to assure the possibility of legal assistance for all the prisoners.

Concerning the situation of the Arab minority, the Council discusses the discrimination against minorities, especially ethnic ones, with Iran directly, but also through the UN. Numerous resolutions adopted by the UN GA have asked Iran to cease, in its legislation and in practice, any discrimination targeting of minorities, including Arabic, in order to guarantee that those minorities are granted as good an educational opportunity as any other Iranian person, and that such matters be dealt with openly; in full cooperation with the minorities.

The Council assures of its constant follow-up of the Human Rights situation in Iran, and deems it unfortunate that the Human Rights situation, including that of minorities, has been so flawed.  On several occasions, the Council has demanded Iran to comply with its International Obligations in the field of Human Rights.

The Council is waiting for the session of dialogue on Human Rights between the EU and Iran, which should have occurred in December. In spite of a common agreement, Iran decided not to engage in any dialogue. The EU wishes to open, in the future, a dialogue, and to continue to tackle, with Iranian authorities, the urgent issues on Human Rights like the one in question today. When it comes to its relations with Iran, the EU always grants the highest importance to Human Rights issues.

[Translation by UNPO]