#Iran – Call for release of political prisoners

| June 8, 2020

There seems to be, historically speaking, a certain trend with how oppressive and dictatorial regimes govern their countries. That is, through a political mandate synonymous with the dominance of their citizens, the dissolution of social institutions and the disregard for the rule of law (or what can only be called in the western world a fair judiciary process). Simply put, the moral and ethical values that are the guiding principles of a democratic functioning society are reduced to mere words, writes Dr. Alejo Vidal-Quadras. 

It was the combination of this anachronistic form of governance and misguided theocratic principles that shifted the Iranian landscape (after the revolution in 1979) into a ruthless incessant purge of freedoms and rights. And thus far nothing has changed. Over the course of the past seven months this regime continued to treat a variety of situations with the same senseless approach by dealing with everything (and everyone) by means of repression and oppression.

When demonstrations regarding the drastic (overnight) increase to the price of gasoline began in November 2019, the measures that were taken by the regime were not to think of the implications that this unannounced action would have on an already tense (and inflation prone) society, but rather react to the uprisings with brute force. Between November and December 2019, some 1500 protestors were murdered with an additional 12000 arrests made (as confirmed by the State Department of the United States) with no indication of where many of these protestors were taken to. And still today, the Iranian regime has not yet provided the numbers nor names of those arrested, keeping silent to hide the scope of its brutality. Then, in January 2020, the intentional downing of Ukrainian airline 752 by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards was met with the same criminal approach. Instead of providing closure to the victims’ families as well as assisting the international community with their investigation, the regime decided to withhold critical information (black box included) and arrest those who had provided videos and images of the crash site leading to greater dissonance and distrust between the Iranian Government and its citizens.

This distrust only heightened to new levels with the spread of Covid-19 and the regime’s laissez faire attitude as they did not take the necessary preventative and pro-active measures to flatten the curve and reduce the number of fatalities. Instead they chose to behave publicly as though nothing was wrong as the death toll rose drastically and the silencing and arrest of medical staff who disclosed the true deadly nature of the virus became a daily occurrence.

The culmination of these events brought with it a new wave of protests and disenchantment with the regime, particularly among the younger generation of students and intellectuals. As it is the case with any of form of dissidence within an authoritarian regime, many of these young protestors were arrested and imprisoned unlawfully. Two students (of the twenty that were arrested) are Amir Hossein Moradi and Ali Younesi, both students of Sharif University and members of the National Olympiad Team who competed in the field of astronomy and astrophysics.

Given the current unpredictable situation with both of these students who are still under unlawful detention, a cross-party group of Members of the European Parliament recently issued a call for support for their releases as well as that of other 18 political prisoners. In this document it is said:

“On May 5, 2020, the Iranian regime’s judiciary announced that it had arrested and imprisoned two elite students, Amir Hossein Moradi and Ali Younesi, for their links to the People’s Mujahidin Organization of Iran. The Iranian opposition revealed the names and photos of 18 other people arrested on the same charges. They are mostly young people seeking freedom and democracy in Iran. We are deeply concerned about the abuse and torture of those arrested.”

The letter continues:

“We urge the EU High Representative to call on Iran to secure the release of the detainees and to respect the rights of citizens to freedom of expression and freedom of association. Therefore, we request for a fact-finding mission to visit prisons and report on the conditions of detainees.

Silence and inaction are counterproductive and will be misconstrued by Iran as a greenlight from European Union vis-à-vis Tehran’s egregious human rights abuses. We reiterate our stated position that relations with Iran has to be conditioned to a halt to executions and a clear progress on human rights,” the statement said. 

Has not the time arrived to listen to their call?

Dr. Alejo Vidal-Quadras, a Spanish professor of atomic and nuclear physics, was vice president of the European Parliament from 1999 to 2014.

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Category: A Frontpage, EU, European Commission, European Parliament, Iran

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