The Iranian regime has long been a source of human rights violations and abuses. They have attempted through various means to oppress any ideas that might challenge their authority and power base. Even as the Iranian people suffer, the regime continues to use its power to spread its influence throughout the region.
For international leaders, the European Union is seen as having an opportunity for dialogue about human rights, but there is also a question of whether the EU can stand up to the regime.
On November 25, 2017, a delegation of EU Parliament members traveled to Tehran to meet with their Iranian counterparts. CHRI urges these MPs to use this opportunity to directly address Iranian officials on these rights violations.
In a briefing paper that was released ahead of the EU-Iran human right dialogue, the FIDH and its member organization League for the Defense of Human Rights in Iran (LDDHI) have highlighted four key areas of concern: the death penalty, arbitrary detention and torture, discrimination against women and minority groups, and labor rights.
In light of these issues, the International Day of Elimination of Violence Against Women is particularly important this year as it calls on the international community to actively work to rid the world of violence against women in all areas.
Gender inequality persists worldwide. Achieving gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls will require more vigorous efforts, including legal frameworks, to counter deeply rooted gender-based discrimination that often results from patriarchal attitudes and related social norms, as stated by the UN Secretary-General, in his latest report on progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals.
Women, religious minorities, and ethnic communities have continued to be discriminated against under the rule of the Iranian regime. Iranian law ostracizes women and minorities in blatant disregard of international law. These groups are often persecuted and are denied access to work and education. This is just one example of the violence against women, but Iran is not the only country with this issue. However, with the nuclear deal fresh in many minds, Iran’s actions are front and center on the international stage.
Others have argued that the international silence on human rights, particularly by the EU, has emboldened Iran’s security forces, namely the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
Zaghari-Ratcliffe, an Iranian-British dual national, was sentenced to five years in prison in Tehran in April 2016 on unspecified national security charges. However, she is not the only dual citizen to be arrested. The IRGC has arrested at least 30 of these individuals since the signing of the nuclear deal in July 2015, according to a Reuter’s investigation. Research by CHRI shows that at least 12 dual and foreign nationals, as well as permanent residents, were in prison in Iran as of October 2017 without due process.
Iran is eager to attract foreign investment from European companies. European governments’ silence on the imprisonment of its citizens in Iran on trumped-up charges and after prosecutions lacking any semblance of due process will serve to place any dual national traveling to the country at greater risk. This need of the regime to access international investment and capital is one tool that international groups believe could be used to leverage change from the Iranian regime. The question is will the international community, particularly the EU, will follow through.