Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, is to visit France and Italy this week for meetings with government and business representatives. The visit comes at a time when Tehran hopes to deflect attention from its intensified repression at home and hostile interventions in the Middle East.
Since Rouhani took office two years ago and following the nuclear agreement, the only change in Iran has been for the worse, with the regime carrying out 2,000 executions and public hangings, including that of juveniles and political prisoners.
In recent months, an organised crackdown by the regime's security forces on the media, journalists, activists and families of political prisoners and Iranian opposition members (the PMOI and the NCRI) have led to scores of arbitrary arrests followed by death sentences or long-term prison sentences on bogus charges such as Moharebeh (waging war against God).
At the same time, Tehran has staged three deadly rocket attacks on the members of the Iranian opposition in Camp Liberty and continues to use its proxies in Iraq to impose inhumane restrictions on the camp in an effort to eliminate its main political opposition.
The theocratic leaders in Tehran hope that Rouhani's charm offensive and prospect of billions of Euros in trade in Paris and Rome will make European leaders look past this alarming reality in Iran.
As Rouhani arrives in Europe, it would be naïve to think that an agreement on Tehran’s nuclear programme and trade will encourage reforms from within the theocratic regime. This is especially true when the Revolutionary Guard Corps, the regime’s paramilitary force that is responsible for domestic crackdown and export of terrorism abroad, is controlling Iran’s economy and is to receive billions of dollars from sanctions relief.
Such a policy and lack of firmness towards Tehran would only exacerbate past mistakes of deliberately decoupling Tehran's abysmal human rights record and its sponsor of terrorism from the nuclear negotiations.
As many Iranians are going to highlight in their rally in Paris on 28 January, which we support, Hassan Rouhani represents an oppressive regime. EU member states must, emphasise EU principles and values in any dealings with Tehran.
We, therefore, call on the EU, in particular the French and Italian governments, to make any improvements of relation with Tehran contingent upon an immediate halt to the executions, torture and the release of political prisoners, journalists and activists.
Rouhani’s government must understand that it will be judged by its actions and not slogan of moderation. As such, the least it should do is to halt its support for the Assad regime in Syria and the terrorist group Hezbollah, restrain IRGC’s power and stop the domestic crackdown by security forces allowing the Iranian people to engage in genuine freedom of expression, political opposition and peaceful protests. Anything short of that will just signal a continuation of the past oppressive and malign policies that earned Iran its pariah status.
British Parliamentary Committee for Iran Freedom
25 January 2016