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The situation for human rights in Iran is worse than ever as Iranian Foreign Minister visits Sweden

On Wednesday the Swedish minister of Foreign Affairs Ms. Margot Wallström welcomes the Iranian Foreign minister Mr. Javid Zarif for cooperation talks on economy and trade, following the Iranian MPs trip on Monday to Poland, Tuesday in Finland, before then being received in Latvia on Thursday.

In light of Iran’s continued human rights’ violations, The Media Express news agency on Monday spoke to Swedish-based lawyer, also board member of Friends of Iran in Sweden. Mr. Kenneth Lewis gave his reaction saying ‘I think it’s very disturbing that Sweden even receives him. The situation for human rights in Iran is probably worse than ever. Just a couple of days ago reports show another eleven people executed.’

Commenting on the consequences of decoupling conversations about human rights’ from trade, during this week’s cooperation talks between Sweden and Iran, Mr. Lewis said ‘that’s what’s disturbing, that Sweden and by the way France are very keen on the idea [of trading] with Iran again that they completely disregard the whole human rights issue.’

Remaining silent on the human rights’ issue during trade and cooperative talks gives the Iranian regime legitimacy and as Mr. Lewis points out ‘only encourages this government to continue with its crimes against human rights; the extraordinary executions, and the fact that people don’t have a fair trial and all the rest of it. Because there are no consequences for them.’

In a call to The Media Express news agency on Friday, a spokesperson of Iran’s main opposition group, People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI / MEK) Mr. Shanin Gobadi also talked about the consequences of EU member states receiving Iranian MPs for cooperation talks, saying:

‘this sort of [diplomatic] trip only emboldens the clerical regime in its wave of executions and suppression inside Iran as well as its war mongering and export of terror outside of Iranian borders.’

The spokesperson for PMOI / MEK also pointed out that ‘every day constant news of more executions, more egregious human rights’ abuses, more anti-human medieval punishments’ are reported in Iran. Concluding that ‘in that setting [of human rights’ violations] accepting Javid Zarif simply is tantamount to glossing over the dreadful human rights’ situation in Iran.’

The position of the PMOI is clearly that ‘we think any improvement of relationships with this regime should be conditioned upon improvement of the human rights’ situation in Iran, particularly the halting of executions.’

Humanitarian organizations will themselves, alongside urging the Swedish government to do so, release statements condemning the increasing human rights’ violations by the Iranian regime.

Sweden’s current Foreign Minister and acting deputy Prime Minister, Ms. Margot Wallström @margotwallstrom, will be under particular scrutiny, watching to see if the government echoes the words of former Foreign Minister Mr. Carl Bildt; who in 2014 declared that the European Union wanted ‘dialogue with Iran on human rights’ and that ‘the new political atmosphere has allowed a better dialogue in this regard.’

 Furthermore, The Media Express spoke with the former European Parliament Vice-President, Mr. Alejo Vidal-Quadras last week; asking Mr. Quadras to comment on the responsibility of high ranking EU officials to engage in dialogue and to talk about human rights’ violations.

 Mr. Vidal-Quadras, who is currently president of the International Committee in Search of Justice (ISJ), said that ‘change for Iran must be applied economic[ally] but also [through] diplomatic pressures and Western [EU member] countries must profit where there is more dialogue. [We must] increase diplomatic and economic pressure, not decrease it, in the domain of human rights.’

 Focus the will be on Sweden’s government on Wednesday, following Mr. Zarif’s visit to Poland on Monday and to Finland on Tuesday, but also pressure will on Latvia, where the Iranian Foreign minister visits on Thursday; to see if its governments push for open dialogue on the human rights’ situation in Iran. Various human rights’ organizations are ready to condemn the silence of EU member state governments and MPs if they fail to speak out against the regime’s continued abuses.

 A total of 64 people have been executed by the regime in May alone, many occurring at the same time that EU heads of state, MPs but also high ranking UN officials have been in talks with the regime.

 Mr. Javid Zarif’s EU state visit comes at a time that yesterday, Tuesday 31st May, Iranian’s resident in Finland, including among the crowd also young protesters, rallied in the city of Helsinki to denounce the regime’s human rights’ violations; also urging the Finnish minister for Foreign Affairs Mr. Timo Soini, also Finnish deputy Prime Minister, to ‘make improvements of relations with Tehran contingent on cessation of executions.’


(@IranGathering – 11:36am, Tuesday 31 May 2016)

In Finland on Tuesday street protests followed alongside social media campaigns condemning the Iranian Foreign Minister’s European visit for cooperation talks. Of which online were marked with hashtags #No2Rouhani, #FreeIran; also pointing to the Finnish minister of Foreign Affairs #timoSoini:


(@4FreedominIran – 10:32am, Tuesday 31 May 2016)

About Siavosh Hosseini (349 Articles)
My background is in the visual arts, particularly in photojournalism. I have had the opportunity to cover scores of international artistic and news events in the US and across Europe since the mid-1980s. I was active in television newsrooms and production as a graphic designer and producer for more than 12 years in different television and news outfits in Europe.

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