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Statement of #FriendsOfAFreeIran in the European Parliament

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On 6 August, the clerical regime Iran hanged Mostafa Salehi, one of the prisoners of the Dec 2017-January 2018 uprising, in Dastgerd prison in Isfahan. Salehi, 30, was arrested in Kahrizsang, Isfahan, and sentenced to death during a sham trial for “leading the Kahrizsang riots in Najafabad”.

Friends of a Free Iran (FoFI), issued an urgent statement in this regard. The statement condemned the execution and called on the EU to take action in this regard.

“We urge the European Union High Representative Joseph Borrell to strongly condemn the execution of Mostafa Salehi and call on Iran regime to respect the rights of citizens to freedom of expression and freedom of association and to release all detainees. Therefore, we request a fact-finding mission to visit prisons in Iran and a report on the conditions of detainees before more protesters are being hanged.”

The full text of the statement

On Wednesday, 5 August 2020, the Iranian government hanged Mostafa Salehi in Dastgerd prison in Isfahan. Salehi, aged 30, was one of the prisoners arrested in Kahrizsang, Isfahan following the Dec 2017-January 2018 uprising. He was arrested and sentenced to death for “leading the Kahrizsang riots in Najafabad”.

Now, protesters arrested in the uprisings from December 2017-January 2018 and from November-December 2019 are being sentenced to death, with the execution of Mostafa Salehi being the first of such inhuman measures.

In light of these events, we would like to draw your attention to the ongoing human rights violations in Iran, particularly the execution of a protester. We are gravely concerned over the ill-treatment and torture of those who have been arrested joining the anti-regime protests and the death sentences issued upon them.

We strongly condemn death sentences against Iranian citizens for taking part in protests and urge for the immediate and unconditional release of these prisoners and an immediate halt to these hangings.

We urge the European Union High Representative Mr. Joseph Borrell to strongly condemn the execution of Mostafa Salehi and call on Iran regime to respect the rights of citizens to freedom of expression and freedom of association and to release all detainees. Therefore, we request a fact-finding mission to visit prisons in Iran and a report on the conditions of detainees before more protesters are being hanged.

Silence and inaction are counterproductive and could be misconstrued by Iran regime as a green light from the European Union to Tehran to continue with human rights abuses. We reiterate our stated position that EU relations with Iran have to be conditioned by halting executions and by clear progress on the respect of human rights.
Sincerely,

Milan Zver
Co-Chair, Friends of a Free Iran (FoFI)

Friends of a Free Iran (FoFI) is an informal intergroup in the European Parliament which was formed in 2003 and enjoys the active support of many MEPs from various political groups.

coronavirus

Commission approves German scheme to compensate accommodation providers in the field of child and youth education for damages suffered due to the coronavirus outbreak

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The European Commission approved, under EU state aid rules, a German scheme to compensate accommodation providers for child and youth education for the loss of revenue caused by the coronavirus outbreak. The public support will take the form of direct grants. The scheme will compensate up to 60% of the loss of revenues incurred by eligible beneficiaries in the period between the beginning of the lockdown (which started on different dates across the regional states) and 31 July 2020 when their accommodation facilities had to be closed due to the restrictive measures implemented in Germany.

When calculating the loss of revenue, any reductions in costs resulting from income generated during the lockdown and any possible financial aid granted or actually paid out by the state (and in particular granted under scheme SA.58464) or third parties to cope with the consequences of the coronavirus outbreak will be deducted. At the central government level, facilities eligible to apply will have at their disposal a budget of up to €75 million.

However, these funds are not earmarked exclusively for this scheme. In addition, regional authorities (at Länder or local level) may also make use of this scheme from the local budgets. In any event, the scheme ensures that the same eligible costs cannot be compensated twice by different administrative levels. The Commission assessed the measure under Article 107(2)(b) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, which enables the Commission to approve state aid measures granted by member states to compensate specific companies or specific sectors for the damages caused by exceptional occurrences, such as the coronavirus outbreak.

The Commission found that the German scheme will compensate damages that are directly linked to the coronavirus outbreak. It also found that the measure is proportionate, as the envisaged compensation does not exceed what is necessary to make good the damages. The Commission therefore concluded that the scheme is in line with EU state aid rules.

More information on actions taken by the Commission to address the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic can be found here. The non-confidential version of the decision will be made available under the case number SA.59228 in the state aid register on the Commission's competition website.

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EU

Commissioner Gabriel participates in European Researchers' Night 2020

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The 15th edition of European Researchers' Night, the largest research communication and promotion event in Europe, takes place this evening (27 November). Events will be organized in 388 cities in 29 countries, giving people the chance to discover science in a fun way. They will take place physically, virtually, or in a hybrid way, in accordance with national measures in place in response to the current pandemic.

Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth Commissioner Mariya Gabriel will give opening speeches at events in Sofia, Bulgaria and Perugia, Italy. Ahead of this evening's proceedings, she said: “It is fundamental to make science and research accessible to all and to show the impact of science in citizens' daily lives. This is why the European Researchers' Night is so important: it is an event open to all, even accessible from home this year. It showcases research projects and their results in an entertaining way and is a great opportunity to discover and engage with real-life researchers and experts in their respective fields.”

European Researchers' Night is funded by Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions and in 2020, projects focus mainly on environment, sustainability and climate change.

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Austria

Commission approves Austrian measures to support rail freight and passenger operators affected by the coronavirus outbreak

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The European Commission has approved, under EU state aid rules, two Austrian measures supporting the rail freight sector and one measure supporting the rail passenger sector in the context of the coronavirus outbreak. The two measures supporting the rail freight sector will ensure increased public support to further encourage the shift of freight traffic from road to rail, and the third measure introduces temporary relief for rail operators providing passenger services on a commercial basis.

The Commission found that the measures are beneficial for the environment and for mobility as they support rail transport, which is less polluting than road transport, while also decreasing road congestion. The Commission also found that the measures are proportionate and necessary to achieve the objective pursued, namely to support the modal shift from road to rail whilst not leading to undue competition distortions. Finally, the waiver of infrastructure access charges provided for in the second and third measures described above is in line with the recently adopted Regulation (EU) 2020/1429.

This Regulation allows and encourages member states to temporarily authorize the reduction, waiver or deferral of charges for accessing rail infrastructure below direct costs. As a result, the Commission concluded that the measures comply with EU state aid rules, in particular the 2008 Commission Guidelines on state aid for railway undertakings (the Railway Guidelines).

Executive Vice President Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: “The measures approved today will enable the Austrian authorities to support not only rail freight transport operators, but also commercial passenger operators in the context of the coronavirus outbreak. This will contribute to maintaining their competitiveness compared to other modes of transport, in line with the EU Green Deal objective. We continue working with all member states to ensure that national support measures can be put in place as quickly and effectively as possible, in line with EU rules.”

The full press release is available online

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