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Iranian opposition online conference calls for action to save lives of political prisoners

Iranian opposition NCRI online conference focusing on human rights violations in Iran—September 16, 2020
Iranian opposition NCRI online conference focusing on human rights violations in Iran—September 16, 2020

Reporting by PMOI/MEK

Iran, September 16, 2020—Iranian opposition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) holds an online event calling on the international community to take meaningful measures to save the lives of political prisoners in Iran. This follows the horrific execution of Iranian wrestling champion Navid Afkari on September 12. Dozens of political prisoners are on death row and face similar fates.

 

A global initiative is needed to hold senior Iranian regime officials accountable, dispatch an international fact finding mission to visit Iran’s prisons and meet with its inmates, especially political prisoners. Iran’s dossier of human rights violations should be referred to the United Nations Security Council for decisive actions against the mullahs’ genocidal regime.

 

Hossein Abedini, NCRI Foreign Affairs Commission & UK Office, at the Iranian opposition conference focusing on Iran’s human rights violations—September 16, 2020

Hossein Abedini, NCRI Foreign Affairs Commission & UK Office, at the Iranian opposition conference focusing on Iran’s human rights violations—September 16, 2020

The regime is in violation of international human rights laws. Yet the international community has failed the people of Iran and allowed the regime to enjoy impunity by refraining from holding regime officials to account. 

 

There is another wave of secret executions inside Iran’s prisons. The international community must stand with the people of Iran to secure their fundamental and inalienable rights and freedom. 

British MP Dr. Matthew Offord at the Iranian opposition conference focusing on Iran’s human rights violations—September 16, 2020

British MP Dr. Matthew Offord at the Iranian opposition conference focusing on Iran’s human rights violations—September 16, 2020

The regime has been emboldened to continue repressive measures against their people as well as their terrorist activities. I believe the UK government’s plan to endorse the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) was wrong, especially as they did not tie it to Iran’s human rights violations.

 

The accord freed up resources that allowed the regime to fund terrorist groups. In the last few months, we’re seeing more actions against the people of Iran as they hold demonstrations against the regime.

 

In the UK, we call on our colleagues and allies to abolish punishment. We also call on other governments to refrain from carrying out capital punishment. We should put pressure on the government in Tehran. We should not remove the arms embargo and allow the regime to buy and use arms against their own people and other countries.

 

The UN has done next to nothing about the regime of Iran. We should not allow the people of Iran to be abused by the regime and ignored by the international community. The regime’s resorting to torture and execution is a clear sign of its desperation. The execution of Navid Afkari was a blow to the country. It is a great regret that he has been executed.

 

I would like to see the UK government and other governments reimpose sanctions on Iran. It's a disgrace to allow the regime to purchase weapons and give weapons to its proxies. If Iran wants to have any kind of engagement with the West or other countries in the Middle East, it must stop executions and crackdown on its people, and stop its terrorist activities.

British MP Steve McCabe at the Iranian opposition conference focusing on Iran’s human rights violations—September 16, 2020

British MP Steve McCabe at the Iranian opposition conference focusing on Iran’s human rights violations—September 16, 2020

The brutal and secret execution of Navid Afkari gives us a sense of what is happening in Iran. There must be worries for dozens of political prisoners who might be wondering if a similar fate is awaiting them. But prisoners in different prisons of Iran are writing letters and protesting the execution of Navid.

 

So if the goal of the regime is to cow the population by executing Navid, it doesn’t seem to be working as they expected. Navid was forced to confess in the most brutal fashion. It is obvious that the regime has decided to defy the international community and is deaf to what the world is saying.

 

I have always been in favor of having dialog to improve a situation. But I’ve long come to the conclusion that we can’t sustain the pretense of having diplomatic relations with the regime. They have no respect for the rule of law and the norms of diplomacy.

 

It’s not enough to condemn their actions, to condemn what is happening in Iran. It’s time to toughen up the response. We should argue that the arms embargo needs to be reinforced. If we want the Middle East to be on a permanent war footing, proxy wars to continue, then the way to do that is to make it easy for Iran to get their hands on more weapons.

 

It is time for the UN to demand there be an investigation of what happened in the 1988 massacre. You can’t let them get away with impunity. We need to address this responsibly. A UN team must be able to visit the prisons in Iran and examine the conditions of prisoners. It’s time to consider more serious consequences. This includes expelling Iranian diplomats, even the ambassadors, and closing embassies and ending diplomatic relations.

Alejo Vidal Quadras, former European Parliament Vice President, at the Iranian opposition conference focusing on Iran’s human rights violations—September 16, 2020

Alejo Vidal Quadras, former European Parliament Vice President, at the Iranian opposition conference focusing on Iran’s human rights violations—September 16, 2020

The international community must take urgent action to stop the execution of political prisoners in Iran.

 

These executions in Iran are not a matter of general death penalty. It’s not enough to condemn death penalty in general. These executions are of a political character. They are killing political prisoners, political opponents. This is a clerical regime that executes people to stay in power.

 

So, it’s not the death penalty being applied to ordinary criminal offenders, which still happens in some countries in the world. It’s pure terror and the regime wants to ensure its own survival in this horrible way. This is something European leaders must understand. This is terrorizing citizens. If they don’t understand this, they don’t understand the nature of this situation.

 

The situation in Iran is much worse than what is happening in Belarus. In Iran, protesters are hanged, executed, their lives are taken. If Europe is condemning Lukashenko, they should protest what is happening in Iran. It’s a tyranny that is exerting terror on its people to survive.

 

The execution of Navid Afkari was not condemned by the European Union as a deliberate political execution. It was condemned as a death penalty in general. This is weak and allows the regime to continue such executions. European leaders must understand that silence and inaction is—and this is hard to say—complicity with these executions. The regime does not respond to weak condemnations.

 

Regarding the massacre of political prisoners in 1988, this shows the consequences of silence against crimes against humanity. Many of the perpetrators of that crime are alive and in top positions in power, including the chief of the judiciary. They are living in absolute impunity. They have not been held accountable for these crimes.

 

It's time to call for an international investigation into this crime. This issue must be referred to the UN General Assembly and an independent investigation must be launched. 

 

It is time for strong, tangible and effective action. It’s time for the European governments to shut down Iranian embassies in their 27 capitals. These are not diplomatic offices. They’re centers of espionage. It’s time to send a strong signal to the regime to stop doing these things. The least thing EU governments should do is to summon Iran’s ambassadors and apart from condemning these executions, to warn them that if the executions will go on, there will be severe consequences, economic and political sanctions. This is the least they can do.

Tahar Boumedra, former chief of the Human Rights Office of the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) and a legal expert, at the Iranian opposition conference focusing on Iran’s human rights violations—September 16, 2020

Tahar Boumedra, former chief of the Human Rights Office of the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) and a legal expert, at the Iranian opposition conference focusing on Iran’s human rights violations—September 16, 2020

The situation is very dangerous. Because of the gravity of this situation, on Monday, five special rapporteurs of UN have come together on a very exceptional situation, independent experts of UN, Javeid Rahman, Special Rapporteur on human rights situation in Iran; Agne Calaamrd, Special Rapporteur on arbitrary executions; the Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom and peaceful association; the Special Rapporteur on torture and degrading punishments; the Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and expression, they jointly came together and condemned the execution of Navid Afkari in a very strong wording.

 

They said that the latest death sentences handed down in the context of protests in 2018 and 2019 seems to aim to be a warning to the people. This is not only a matter of domestic concern, they said, and called on the international community to act strongly. They said they are appalled that the tortures were not investigated, as well as the broadcasting of the forced confessions of Afkari. 

 

They buried him at night without allowing his family to hold a funeral, because they feared that it would spark further protests. It is common practice in Iran today to torture political prisoners to extract confessions. These confessions are not admissible in legal systems, but the regime accepts forced confessions as a means to condemn political prisoners. This is what the special rapporteurs are calling against. But we know their voices are not often heard. They are banned from visiting Iran and the UN seems to consider the situation as being under control.

 

We have a track record of the behavior of the judicial officials in Iran where through kangaroo trials they executed political prisoners in 1988. Men, women and even children were subjected to this torture. It is time for change to come to Iran. The current legal and judicial system in Iran must be abandoned if the Iranian regime wants to join the UN.

 

We know with documents that a number of political prisoners are currently on death row and in danger of being executed. If no serious measure is taken, there will be massive loss of life. It is the responsibility of the international community to say no, it must stop. It is time for the UN to take action.

 

However, the UN as you know is always the voice of its members. And for this reason, I would like to mention that the governments of the EU and UK must uphold the doctrine of human rights, by which any cooperation and association is subject to human rights. No relations, no economic exchange with a brutal regime that uses all means of suppression against its own people.

 

Action must be taken immediately to save lives. The UN must not be expected to take action. It’s up to the governments, especially the EU and UK , to take action, to stop closing their rights on human rights for commercial gain. The UN must stop recommending action. The matter has to be referred to the UN Security Council to take firm action.

Former Finnish MP Kimmo Sasi at the Iranian opposition conference focusing on Iran’s human rights violations—September 16, 2020

Former Finnish MP Kimmo Sasi at the Iranian opposition conference focusing on Iran’s human rights violations—September 16, 2020

Navid Afkari was murdered for participating in anti-regime protests despite calls on the regime to refrain from the international community. There are currently several dozen political prisoners on death row in Iran. Amensy international has warned that the human rights situation has deteriorated in Iran.

 

Why has this happened?

 

The corruption in Iran is very serious and has led to the downfall of the economy. Foreign companies do not want to trade with Iran because of the corruption. Iran’s leaders are afraid of their own fate, which translates to more brutal action at home to protect their own interests.

 

The international community must take real action. Punitive actions against Iran. What can be done?

 

First, we must declare those who have committed murder and violation of human rights cannot escape justice. They should be brought to justice outside of Iran and given sentences for their action. Economic sanctions are important as well. Countries must put economic sanctions on the regime and people who are responsible for human rights violations.

 

The UN has condemned the actions of Iran. But it’s not enough. They must investigate and go to Iran and look at the cases. But the case of Iran must also be referred to the UN Security Council and sanctions must be effected.

 

The EU has high hopes for the nuclear deal, but they’re misplaced. Iran is breaking the essential policies of the nuclear deal. They must put human rights first, and all other things second. The EU must be a community of human rights. They must look the truth in the eye and put sanctions on Iran.

 

The UK was the country that held up against Adolf Hitler. The leadership in Iran is no different from Adolf Hitler. The UK must stand against Iran. We need punitive actions. And of course, it makes no sense that arms are sold to Iran. The leaders of Iran must know that human rights violations have consequences. There must be cooperation between the international community and the Iranian opposition.

 

The only sustainable change in Iran is possible with regime change. The way for Iran’s future is Madam Maryam Rajavi’s ten-point plan. Iran is a rich country, but it needs a government that works for the people, not against them.