Plenary speech on the situation in Iran

Marietje
Marietje Schaake, on behalf of the ALDE Group – Mr President, last summer, I got elected to the European Parliament by voicing criticism against my own government. A young woman in Iran, having done the same, would have likely been killed, imprisoned, tortured and raped since. Thanks to new media, we have all seen the clips of the brutal way the Iranian regime cracks down on citizens who speak out peacefully for democracy and freedom. Recent arrests of human rights reporters by the intelligence office of the Revolutionary Guard show that the Iranian regime takes an increased interest in closing off the country. Their reports were heavily relied upon by international journalists. Yesterday was Martin Luther King Day. We commemorate a man who, too, marched the streets peacefully and said: ‘a time comes when silence is betrayal’. High Representative, this time has long arrived. President Barack Obama broke off his holidays over Christmas to speak out against yet more brutal attacks on citizens after Ashura. In the proposed two-track approach to Iran, balancing the nuclear question and human rights, the United States is increasingly emphasising human rights. Europe should take a stronger leadership position here, not only when it is politically safe to do so. The disaster in Haiti is a terrible tragedy, and I am glad you are taking action. However, the man-made disaster that is ongoing in Iran has not been met with leadership and coordination from the European side thus far. Last month, a delegation of this Parliament was supposed to visit Iran, but the regime did not want us to see with our own eyes its own weakness and division. It is high time that Europe takes one stance regarding Iran, and the world is waiting. Is Iran’s current regime, which has lost its legitimacy and is divided internally, a credible actor in negotiations? What measures do you propose in the nuclear question that will target the government without harming the population? Are you willing to call an emergency talk in Europe on Iran? To ensure that human rights will remain Europe’s priority, how will you use the EU instrument for human rights? I believe we need to support citizens, civil society and journalists. The ‘Shelter City’ programme, proposed by the Czech Presidency, might be a useful tool to support Iranians under threat in Europe. In the hearings with Commissioner Kroes, I asked her whether she is willing to work with you to make free speech on the Internet an integrated part of Europe’s foreign policy. I ask you the same.