The European Parliament held a meeting on March 8 to reflect on the impact of sanctions against Iran driven by human rights concerns.
Marietje Schaake, a Dutch Member of the European Parliament had invited Shadi Sadr Iranian human rights activist currently based in London, Payam Akhavan, human rights activist and professor at McGill University, and Roohi Shafii Iranian writer and activist based in London as an expert panel to provide their recommendations on the situation of human rights in Iran and the effective ways in which European countries could address these issues.
The meeting focused on the Islamic Republic’s failure to improve its behaviour around human rights abuses, even in the face of those punitive international sanctions.
Sadr offered up a series of proposals aimed at targeting international sanctions more effectively to address human rights issues in Iran. She told Radio Zamaneh: “In the Justice for Iran organisation, we have prepared a comprehensive report which was explained in today’s meeting.”
She added: “In the report, we examine how effective the international sanctions targeting human rights violation in Iran have been since the first round was launched one year ago and we pinpoint their weaknesses, and we also make a series of recommendations.”
Sadr says it is not enough for individuals involved in human rights violations to be blacklisted; the organisations and government bodies that commit these violations should also be put under sanction.
Sadr continues: “Our other recommendation is that European countries should pressure Iran’s neighbouring countries or countries with which they have close relations, such as Turkey, the UAE or Malaysia, to pressure Iran and join these sanctions.”
The other Iranian panellist, Payam Akhavan, said European countries must gain the trust of Iranian people. He raised the “Mykonos incident” of 1992, in which a group of Iranian-Kurdish opposition leaders were assassinated at a Greek restaurant in Berlin, and the suspects were released and allowed to return to Iran.
Roohi Shafii touched on the rising level of violence in Iranian society and told Zamaneh that when the sanctions target Iranian families and put them in dire economic circumstances, they trigger greater conflict and violence in society, and the impact is mostly felt by women and children.
Arjen de Wolff, the executive director of Radio Zamaneh also attended the meeting and argued against proposals to impose sanctions on Iranian communication channels. He pointed out that many media outlets such as Radio Zamaneh reach their audience through the internet and satellite networks, and any form of sanctions on these modes of communication would leave the people of Iran cut off from these media outlets.
The Zamaneh director went on to recommend that Persian-language media outlets outside Iran be placed on the very channels that the Iranian government uses to relay its own programs. In this way, he argued, any attempt by the Islamic Republic to interrupt these satellite programs would also affect its own programs.
On April 14, 2011, the European Union blacklisted 32 individuals in connection with human rights violations in Iran. The 27 member states of the EU will not issue visas to these individuals, and all EU residents and companies are banned from having any financial dealings with them.
The list includes several commanders of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps as well as a number of judges and prison officials.