The European Parliament condemned Iran for its violent crackdown on protesters, with six of its seven factions cosponsoring the resolution on Thursday.
The resolution states “the Iranian security forces used disproportionate means and force against protesters [and] according to civil society reports, Iranian security forces opened fire on unarmed protesters who did not pose any imminent risk, and allegedly shot to kill.”
It cited an Amnesty International report that at least 304 protesters have been killed and many more injured, though other human-rights groups have estimated as many as 1,500 were murdered. The resolution also condemned the Iranian regime for shutting down Internet across the country, “a disproportionate limitation to freedom of expression.”
In addition, the lawmakers criticized Iran’s harassment and prosecution of journalists, lawyers and activists, as well as lack of fair trial and denial of access to legal counsel. They demanded anyone being held for “exercising their legitimate rights to freedom of expression and assembly are freed unconditionally,” specifically naming British-Iranian citizen Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who has been detained since 2016, and Iranian human-rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, punished earlier this year with a 33-year jail sentence and 148 lashes.
The resolution was backed by blocs across the political spectrum, from the European Conservatives and Reformists Group (ECR), which originated it, to the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats, and others in between. The only group not to sign on to the resolution was the far-right Identity and Democracy Group.
Former president of Romania MEP Traian Basescu of the liberal-conservative European People’s Party accused Europe of being held hostage to the JCPOA nuclear agreement with Iran, which the US has already left.
“That is the fact of the matter. And that is also the reason why we pretend not to notice that in their desire to become a regional power, they are doing these things,” he said.
ECR Group Foreign Affairs Spokeswoman Anna Fotyga, a veteran of the anti-communist movement in Poland, proposed the motion to put the topic on the agenda.
Fotyga called on Europe to rethink its relationship with Iran.
“The international community cannot continue to engage with a country that is murdering its own people,” she said. “Tehran’s barbaric crackdown shows us what the Ayatollahs and the Iranian Government are all about – personal power and wealth over the basic rights of their citizens. Their violent suppression is designed specifically to strike fear into the population and to prevent others from speaking up about the government’s atrocities.
“We cannot continue to stand by and let this happen, our approach to the brutal Iranian regime must be revised immediately,” Fotyga stated.
Daniel Schwammenthal, the American Jewish Committee’s Transatlantic Institute director, said the vote is a shift, since the EU was thus far “incomprehensibly reticent to condemn the regime’s violence.”
“When people fight for their freedom, the EU cannot remain silent. Today, Parliament said loud and clear that it stands with the people of Iran and not its oppressors,” Schwammenthal said. “Condemning the regime’s human rights abuses is a crucial first step that the EU ought to back up with concrete action, such as sanctioning regime officials and security services directly responsible for the mass killings, injuries and arrests.”
The protests in Iran were originally triggered by a sharp increase in gas prices, which Schwammenthal pointed out was exacerbated by the regime funding Hezbollah in Lebanon and Syrian President Bashar Assad’s ethnic-cleansing campaign. He called on the EU to try to contain Iran’s aggression in the Middle East by putting Hezbollah and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps on its terror list.