Iran’s human rights violations and foreign military interventions have reached unprecedented levels. This has led to condemnation from hundreds of members of the European Parliament (MEPs), and calls for the designation of Iran’s Republican Guard Corps (IRGC), which is involved in multiple regional conflicts, as a terrorist organization. According to Amnesty International, Iran accounted for 55 percent of the world’s recorded executions in 2016.
Meanwhile, domestic resentment toward the regime is building amid a renewed focus on the 1988 massacre of thousands of political dissidents. The human rights situation has significantly worsened under President Hassan Rouhani. During his first four years, Iran had the highest number of executions per capita in the world, with nearly 3,000 hangings. On Iranian television, Rouhani described executions as “a good law.”
He has been promoting controversial figures such as his justice minister. The MEPs said the minister is a self-confessed murderer who was a member of the Death Committee, ordering the execution of more than 30,000 political prisoners in 1988. Rouhani comes from within the system and is loyal to the clerical regime. His election was orchestrated, not democratic.
More than 150 MEPs said: “The elections in Iran are not free and fair. Opposition is banned. All candidates have to declare their heartfelt belief to the concept of supreme clerical rule. An unelected body named the ‘Guardian Council,’ whose members are appointed by supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei, disqualifies most of the candidates.”
The MEPs also urged “the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Human Rights Council to set up a commission of inquiry to investigate the 1988 massacre of political prisoners in Iran.”
Western governments should make ties to Iran contingent on halting executions and improving human rights. Concrete action should be taken against the IRGC’s military adventurism, which is destabilizing the region. The MEPs, including four vice presidents and 23 committee and delegation chairs, underscored Tehran’s destructive regional role.
It ‘is mainly active in Syria and Iraq and must be put on the international blacklists.’
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh
The IRGC’s financial activities should be closely monitored, as it controls significant parts of Iran’s wealth and economy. It exports Tehran’s revolutionary ideals while suppressing domestic opposition. “We are very much concerned by the destructive role of the Iranian regime in the region,” said MEP Gerard Deprez.
The IRGC “is mainly active in Syria and Iraq and must be put on the international blacklists. The IRGC also runs most of the Iranian economy. So our European companies who want to sign economic deals with Iran take a high risk of dealing directly and indirectly with the IRGC, which is really a terrorist organization.”
Tens of thousands of Iranians will attend a gathering in Paris on July 1 to protest Tehran’s actions. Deprez, president of the parliamentary group Friends of a Free Iran, said he will attend the gathering “to express our solidarity with the Iranian democratic opposition.”
• Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a Harvard-educated, Iranian-American political scientist. He is a leading expert on Iran and US foreign policy, a businessman and president of the International American Council. He serves on the boards of the Harvard International Review, the Harvard International Relations Council and the US-Middle East Chamber for Commerce and Business. He can be reached on Twitter @Dr_Rafizadeh.