This week the European Parliament passed a resolution condemning the human rights situation in Iran for “continued, systemic violation of fundamental rights” and called on its member states to prioritize human rights in their dealings with Iran. Despite the continuing nuclear talks between Iran and the P5+1 countries, the Islamic Republic responded harshly claiming that the report was “unfounded and unacceptable.”
According to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran:
With the passage of the resolution, EU Strategy toward Iran, the EU has unequivocally signaled its rejection of Iran’s efforts to limit its dialogue with the West exclusively to the nuclear issue. Indeed, while expressing strong support for the Geneva interim agreement on Iran’s nuclear program, and for the continuation of efforts to reach a peaceful negotiated solution to the nuclear issue, the European Parliament forcefully proclaimed human rights will not be relegated to the back seat of foreign relations while the negotiations proceed.
The resolution drew particular attention to Iran’s lack of cooperation with UN human rights bodies, including the denial of a visa to the UN Special Rapporteur on Iran, and called for “the release of all imprisoned human rights defenders, political prisoners, trade unionists, labor activists, and those detained after the 2009 Presidential elections.”
The resolution specifically expressed ““grave concern” over Iran’s justice system, including question about the fairness of trials, the use of torture, and the dramatic increase in executions since the election of Hassan Rouhani as president, last year.
In response to the resolution, a number of political figures in Iran sniffed at the European Union. Iran’s Foreign Minister Spokeswoman, Marziyeh Afkham, said of the European resolution “The endorsement of a resolution regarding ties with Iran and human rights situation in the country by the EU parliament is unfounded and unacceptable.” Chairman of the Iranian Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission Alaeddin Boroujerdi said, “The draft resolution is in line with the Israeli regime’s anti-Iran bids to put the brakes on the European Union’s interactions with the incumbent Iranian administration.”
In addition Vice-Chairman of the Iranian Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission Mansour Haqiqatpour added, “The European Parliament’s resolution against Iran utterly lacks legitimacy.” Tehran’s provisional Friday Prayers Leader Ayatollah Mohammad Ali Movahedi Kermani said, “The people of Iran will not allow the European Union to open a new spy den (EU’s representative office) in the country.”
The European Parliament’s resolution comes on the heels of a December, 2013, UN General Assembly resolution expressing concern over the human rights situation in Iran, and a report last month by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, stating that Iran had not made the promised human rights improvements since Rouhani’s election.
The ongoing concerns about the poor human rights record of Iran led to the mandate of the U.N. special rapporteur on Iran, Ahmed Shaheed being extended for another year.