Plenary speech on the EU approach towards Iran

Mr President, is Ahmadinejad better than Gaddafi? While the international community is rightly focused on Libya and seeks ways to end the violence Gaddafi and his collaborators inflict on citizens, let us not allow Iran to be snowed under in our political agendas. A massacre is also happening in Iran, but it happens in slow motion. One execution every eight hours since the start of this year, and systematic repression, torture, rape and censorship have been rampant during the Islamic Republic, and, in particular, since the elections in 2009. Ahmadinejad is no better than Gaddafi and we need to invoke similarly harsh measures to protect human rights in Iran. Some might argue that sanctions are in place, but these only focus on the nuclear issue without yielding the desired results. In fact, this risks becoming a zero sum game vis-à-vis human rights as impunity meanwhile continues. Madam Vice-President/High Representative, in this report, the European Parliament gives you the mandate to impose sanctions on individuals responsible for the grave human rights abuses that we see, and we have made this recommendation before. A list of 80 names has been leaked and attributed to your office. I want to ask whether this is a sign of your inclination to move ahead with this important measure. We also need to provide technologies for citizens to communicate freely and to access information, and the EU needs to be a safe haven for free thinkers. Vice-President/High Representative, let the EU lead on efforts to hold accountable individuals who rape women before execution so that there is absolutely no chance they may end up in heaven as virgins, men who shoot dead unarmed youths from rooftops while they walk in the streets, and the judges who convict human rights lawyers for defending juveniles and women. Let us hold accountable a system that allows de facto imprisonment of opposition leaders. When Libya is discussed on Friday, please use the momentum to introduce similar measures against those in power in Iran so that justice can be done to the Iranian citizens who, in 2009, started the massive youth uprisings that now inspire a generation in the Middle East and in North Africa.