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Iran Condemns MEPs’ Human Rights Statement, Calls It Propaganda

Iranian foreign ministry spokesman, Bahram Ghasemi speaks during a press conference in Tehran, on Monday January 2, 2017.

Iran has condemned a recent human-rights-related statement by 265 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) against the Islamic Republic, describing it as “psychological ruse, propaganda” and “unfounded claims based on false speculations.”

At least 265 MEPs, in a statement signed two days ago, strongly condemned what they called human rights violations by the Iranian government and its “support for terrorism.”

“The statement is formalized to target Iran-Europe’s expanding relations,” Iran Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi maintained on July 28. He added that “such claims have no credit whatsoever and we consider them as worthless.”

Furthermore, Qassemi reiterated that “A few members of the European Parliament notorious for having links to some dissident groups and the MKO [People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran or the Mojahedin-e Khalq] terrorist group have been trying to take advantage of their position to put forward untrue claims about the human rights situation in Iran.”

The Islamic Republic of Iran considers the MKO opposition group as a “terrorist organization” and Iranian officials refer to them as “monafeqin” which literally means “hypocrites” in Persian.

MKO is an established opposition group which is struggling to overthrow the government in Tehran.

“We consider the statement as an attempt to undermine the growing process of interaction, cooperation and relations between the Islamic Republic of Iran and European countries, which have had many positive and constructive results for both sides in all areas,” Qassemi said in a statement on Wednesday, July 28.

While the recent MEP’s statement prompted Tehran to react, it is said to be only of symbolic value.

In an exclusive interview with Radio Farda, the UK’s Labour Party MEP Seb Dance confirmed that the statement was mainly “symbolic”.

“It is important to remember that a lot of what the European Parliament does might be considered symbolic, but ultimately, it is what the parliament votes on at the end of the day that matters, particularly in relation to trade issues.” Mr. Dance told Farda.

Nonetheless the Islamic Republic maintained its bitter tone; “Iran believes that such claims, which are based on deceptive acts and false and ignorant speculation, lack any credibility,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman has said.

The MEP’s statement was initiated by European Parliament member Gerard Duprez, from Belgium, who has close ties with the MKO.

Earlier, Mr. Duprez had also circulated an appeal to recognize the Iranian presidential election as dishonest. The appeal was signed by 156 MEPs on Iran’s presidential election day, May 19.

In their new statement, 265 MEPs signed Duprez’s statement to condemn the violation of human rights, including high number of executions and depriving women of their absolute rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Gerard Duprez, who is also the president of a group called “Friends of Free Iran”, has emphasized that “in solidarity with anti-Islamic Republic organizations” he is going to participate in MKO’s gathering on 27 July in Paris.

The new statement against the Islamic Republic of Iran was published at a time when, after the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Tehran nuclear deal with world powers, several senior European officials have visited Tehran and signed many MoUs and agreements.

Retaliating to the MEPs, Qassemi called it a “deceptive ruse” to derail Iran -Europe expanding relations.

However as British MEP Seb Dance said in his telephone interview with Radio Farda empowering Iran’s civil society was part of the reason for issuing the statement: “If you work with civil society, if you increase people's ability to hold their governments to account, to have a voice and say over their future, that is I think how we can build trust and build relationships.”

Referring to trade as a two-way street, Dance insisted: “We’ve got to be clear, we cannot just trade with other countries because we need the money. We need to be able to say, look, we will trade and we will grow our relationship with other countries but it has to be on the fundamental understanding of the bases of the human rights. That has to be what the EU stands for.”

During past decades, Iran has been accused many times of violating human rights by different HR organizations. High number of executions, including mass executions of political prisoners in the 1980s, the undermining of women, as well as the denial of rights to ethnic and religious minorities, have always been the main reasons for condemning the Islamic Republic of Iran’s human rights record. Tehran has always dismissed the accusations.

In the past six years, the UN Human Rights Council, UNHRC, has assigned two Special Human Rights Rapporteurs for Iran. They both voiced concern about human rights situation under the Islamic Republic. In response, Tehran has accused both rapporteurs of being biased and politically-driven.

Iran has also been accused of supporting terrorism. Nevertheless, Bahram Qassemi insists that it is Iran that has become the victim. “The claims of supporting terrorism come as Iran has been targeted by many abhorrent terrorist attacks in the past, mainly by members of the terrorist Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO). Around 17,000 Iranians have fallen victim to terror attacks since the victory of the Islamic Revolution.”

Regardless of “nonsense and baseless claims” raised by “supporters of terrorism,” Qassemi added, “Iran remains determined to fight the scourge of terrorism. Iran will not hesitate to firmly work towards eliminating the root causes of terrorism, insecurity and instability in the region.”

To that end, Iran Students News Agency, ISNA, quoted Qassemi as saying: “The Iranian Armed Forces, including the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), will continue to incessantly fight terrorist and Takfiri [IS] currents in the region without paying attention to the ballyhoo raised by supporters of criminal terrorists.”

MEPs, in their latest statement have raised their concern over Iran’s destructive presence in the region and, referring to IRGC’s active presence in Iraq and Syria, have called for the addition of country’s the military wing to international black lists. Iran’s military presence in the region has also raised concerns among most of the Arab countries of the Persian Gulf and U.S.

Tehran, in contrast, has labelled its presence in Syria and Yemen as “advisory” and with the purpose of “fighting IS”.