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CHICAGO: On Tuesday, Europe’s top politicians urged their governments to condemn even more harshly the Iranian regime’s violent response to the country’s ongoing protests as well as its crackdown on protesters’ rights.
At a conference organized by the International Committee in Search of Justice (ISJ) at the Press Club in Brussels, several former members of the European Parliament called for the closure of the Iranian embassy and the expulsion of diplomats. Moreover, they urged all European countries to “end their hypocrisy” by also closing their own embassies in Iran.
Speakers included Alejo Vidal-Quadras, President of the ISJ and former First Deputy President of the European Parliament, Struan Stevenson, Chair of the ISJ Commission for the Protection of Political Freedoms in Iran and former Member of the European Parliament (1999-2014), and Ingrid Betancourt, candidate for president of Colombia who was held hostage by guerrillas in his home country for more than six years.
The latter, who is also a French national, said European governments should immediately withdraw their ambassadors from Iran, adding that embassies “should be closed” and the world should show “courage”.
He congratulated the Iranian demonstrators for continuing the uprising that started on September 16 and which was mostly led by women. The movement started shortly after the death in police custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who was arrested for allegedly violating the regime’s strict dress code.
The response of the Tehran authorities was a brutal attempt to quell the popular uprising. Stakeholders claim that more than five hundred civilians have been executed so far, according to estimates. Many were hung from cranes in public.
“This is the first revolution led by women. While women struggle to regain their rights, men are also attacked and persecuted by the regime. All are targeted,” said Ingrid Betancourt.
“Right now these women are risking their lives and they are doing it for us – all the women in the world. If we don’t do it right, we won’t be able to solve other problems around the world. This is a question, above all, of humanity.”
He accused the Iranian regime of targeting its critics with terror attacks in a bid to silence their support for the protesters.
“If they have to […] kill their youth, imagine what they did for their country”, he underlined before criticizing other countries for lack of mobilization.
“We didn’t do anything. I am offended by the inaction of our government in dealing with what is happening in Iran,” he continued.
Late last year, Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo came under fire from ISJ members for signing a prisoner exchange agreement with the Iranian regime. Their letter of protest, signed by twenty-one former European ministers and officials, urges Belgian authorities not to include convicted terrorists in the agreement, in particular the fearsome Assadollah Assadi, who was sentenced in 2021 to twenty years in prison in Belgium for his role in in a plot to bomb a rally of the National Council of Resistance to Iran (NCRI), an opposition group.
Mr Vidal-Quadras underlined that many European countries were not strong enough in condemning the Iranian regime’s violence against civilian protesters and called for the formation of an alternative government that would respect human and civil rights.
“This is not a question of replacing a dictatorship with another dictatorship,” he explained. “The alternative must guarantee a transition from dictatorship to democracy.”
Democracy was undermined in 1953, Quadras explained, when Britain and the US orchestrated a coup that overthrew the democratically elected government of Iran. This, he insisted, was what led to the rise of tyranny in Iran, first by the former Shah of Iran and then by the ayatollahs.
Mr Stevenson said more than five hundred people had been executed following the current protests, including five teachers. Despite this, the regime has “failed” to end the protests. He added that the latter has also stepped up its disinformation campaign, mislabeling the People’s Mujahideen Organization of Iran, an opposition group also known as ‘MEK’, as ‘Islamists’ and ‘Marxists’. .
The MEK is an Iranian militant organization that wants to overthrow the Islamic Republic and appoint Maryam Rajavi as the leader of the country’s new democracy.
“West has fallen in love with him,” Stevenson said. “However, for the past forty years, the MEK has been the first and only resistance to the tyrannical regime” in Iran; he highlights her brutality.
As if to justify the regime’s views, in the question and answer session after the conference, the first question raised by the audience accused MEK leader Maryam Rajavi of being an Islamist. All speakers decried the claim as characteristic of “false propaganda” of disinformation promoted by the Iranian regime to counter negative media coverage of its own brutality. Mr Stevenson said again that the government should close the Iranian embassy in their country and expel diplomats and staff.
“There must be no impunity for those responsible for this atrocity,” he explained. “They must be held accountable for this crime.”
“If we stay silent, it will lead to more executions. But words alone cannot end this execution. Let’s withdraw our ambassadors from Iran, close their embassies and remove all regime collaborators from our region and from European soil. Then we can consider restoring democracy.”
The conference was broadcast live on Twitter. The presentations of the speakers are contained in a 78-page report recently published by ISJ. He was intimidated Iranian Democratic Revolution and examines the current uprising from a number of political, strategic, international and human rights perspectives.
This text is a translation of an article published on Arabnews.com