The EU appears to be determined to continue its appeasement policies with the Iranian regime in spite of the latest egregious human rights violations committed by Tehran.
Not only did the EU last week reconfirm its commitment to trading with Iran, but it also called for new paths to increase trade with the country. The bloc’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell said: “Together with European Union member states, we also keep looking at ways to encourage more legitimate trade between the EU and Iran. But we need to do more.”
The EU has been attempting to encourage business with Iran through a payment mechanism known as the Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges (INSTEX), which was designed to permit European firms to continue trading with the country in spite of US economic sanctions against Tehran.
The Europeans further sided with Iran when Britain, France and Germany last month told the UN Security Council they were strongly committed to ensuring that UN sanctions against the Iranian government, which were lifted under the 2015 nuclear deal, are not reimposed, as the US desired.
In addition, the UN Security Council in August voted to allow the 13-year arms embargo on the Iranian regime to expire this month. This ruling means that the Iranian regime will be permitted to buy, sell and export as many conventional weapons as it wishes from Oct. 18.
And, in his speech last week, Borrell also reasserted the EU’s strong desire to maintain the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal. He said: “I want to be clear: As coordinator — because the high representative acts as coordinator of the JCPOA — I will continue to do everything possible to ensure the preservation and full implementation of the nuclear deal by all parties.”
The EU is helping to keep all UN sanctions against the Iranian regime lifted in spite of the repeated violations of the nuclear deal committed by the regime. Last month, for example, the International Atomic Energy Agency reported that Iran’s enriched uranium stockpile had reached 2,105 kg — almost 10 times the amount it is permitted to have under the JCPOA. The ruling clergy now have enough enriched uranium to refine and build a nuclear bomb, should they wish to do so. Approximately 1,000 kg of uranium enriched to just 5 percent can be further refined to create one nuclear bomb. Nevertheless, the UN Security Council rejected a US bid to trigger the “snapback” of all UN sanctions on Iran.
Instead of providing economic relief to the regime, the EU ought to hold the Iranian leaders accountable for the country’s latest shocking human rights violations. According to a report released by Amnesty International last month, various branches of Iran’s government, including the judiciary, law enforcement and the Ministry of Intelligence, are involved in abuses and crimes. The report stated: “Iran’s police, intelligence and security forces, and prison officials have committed, with the complicity of judges and prosecutors, a catalogue of shocking human rights violations, including arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance, torture and other ill treatment.”
One of the most horrendous cases was the treatment of champion wrestler Navid Afkari, who was executed last month. The EU must be cognizant of the fact that Afkari — like many other political prisoners and those who participated in peaceful protests — was brutally tortured. The Iranian regime denies that it tortures prisoners, but eyewitness Shahin Naseri recounted some of the treatment the wrestler endured while in detention: “One day, I heard screams, shouting, and pleas for help in the police department. The sergeant accompanying me asked me to wait in the corridor. He went and opened up a door. I followed him to see what was happening out of curiosity. I witnessed two officers who were dressed in unofficial uniforms cursing and hitting Navid with batons and metal pipes without mercy. They would tell him: ‘The truth is whatever we say. Will you write what we are saying or not?’ Navid was also begging: ‘Please, stop, please don’t hit me, I didn’t do anything.’ He was covering his head with his arms. And one of the officers… hit Navid with such strength that Navid let out a gut-wrenching scream and fell unconscious.”
Amnesty International also documented some of the shocking torture techniques the Iranian regime is employing, including punching, kicking and flogging detainees, beating them with sticks, rubber hosepipes, knives, batons and cables, and suspending or forcing prisoners into holding painful stress positions for prolonged periods.
It is incumbent on the EU, which prides itself on promoting human rights, to practice what it preaches and hold the Iranian regime accountable for its shocking human rights violations.