The European Parliament on Thursday, September 19 adopted a resolution condemning the Islamic Republic’s human rights record, calling Tehran to end “oppression of women” in Iran.
The new resolution was endorsed by 608 votes in favor, seven against and 46 abstentions.
While insisting that Iran must stop criminalizing the work of women’s rights defenders, including the work done by those peacefully protesting compulsory hijab, the European Parliament called on the authorities in Iran to abolish this practice.
Furthermore, members of the European Parliament (MEPs) demanded all EU countries with a diplomatic presence in Iran to use all the diplomacy tools in their power to support and protect human rights defenders on the ground.
MEPs also called on the Iranian authorities to immediately release all human rights defenders and journalists detained and sentenced merely for exercising their right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.
According to the resolution, at least eight journalists are currently in detention in Iran and that many have been systematically targeted by the authorities through criminal investigations, asset freezes, arbitrary arrest and surveillance, including those working for the BBC Persian service. Furthermore, the MEPs referred to a recent report by Iran Human Rights, noting that in 2018 the second-highest number of people in the world were executed in Iran.
The resolution, adopted by a show of hands, reiterates the European Parliament’s call on the government of Iran to immediately and unconditionally release human rights lawyer and Sakharov Prize Laureate Nasrin Sotoudeh, who has been sentenced to 38 years in prison and 148 lashes by an Islamic Revolutionary court.
Sotoudeh was arrested in 2018 and convicted for her peaceful activities defending women’s right to choose their own dress style. Although there is no written law in Iran for compulsory hijab, the police and courts spend huge resources to force women to use hijab. Resistance against the policy has increased among Iranians in recent years.
In the meantime, the resolution has stressed that all EU-Iranian dual nationals currently behind bars in the Islamic Republic should be immediately and unconditionally freed.
There is a long history of foreigners and dual-nationals being arrested in Iran as possible bargaining chips with Western governments. Currently, there are several EU-Iranian dual-nationals in detention in Iran, including British-Iranians, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, the mother of a young child, businessman Kamal Foroughi who has been in detention since 2011, Researcher, Kameel Ahmady, and Swedish-Iranian university professor, Ahmad Reza Djalali (Jalali).