Following Iran’s announcement that it had executed French resident Ruhollah Zam, several European countries pulled out of a Europe-Iran Business Forum and the European Union condemned the execution “in the strongest terms” in a statement that reiterated its opposition to the death penalty and raised concerns of a systematic denial of due process in Iran’s Judicial system.
++ cancelled ++ Due to current developments in #Iran @GermanyinIran and other EU Member States will not participate in the Ambassadors’ Panel on Economic Diplomacy of the Europe-Iran Business Forum scheduled to take place on Monday in Tehran. https://t.co/K7MPP81UeE
— Christian Buck (@GermanyOnMENA) December 13, 2020
These are vital first steps but holding Iran to account for human rights violations cannot end with a statement and a canceled—or worse, postponed—business summit.
The decision by France, Germany, Austria, and Italy to pull proves that reducing relations with Iran will have more of an effect on the ayatollahs’ behavior than maintaining them. However, why is this not the policy towards Iran all the time? After all, Iran’s egregious crimes against humanity have been well documented for over 41 years.
Why are these countries—and many more—content to appease the Iranian government rather than hold them to account for their actions? When do they know that getting away with these actions only emboldens the Iranian authorities to commit more crimes, including on European soil and against European residents or citizens?
One of these long-ignored crimes—the 1988 massacre of 30,000 political prisoners—was recently described by United Nations human rights experts as an example of ongoing crimes against humanity for the enforced secrecy surrounding it. They demanded a response from Tehran– and promises of an investigation – by September, but this never came and now the experts are calling for an international investigation through the publication of the letter.
“[Previous failures by the international community to investigate] had a devastating impact on the survivors and families as well as on the general situation of human rights in Iran and emboldened Iran to continue to conceal the fate of the victims and to maintain a strategy of deflection and denial that continue to date,” the letter read.
That the government has ignored this letter shows just how used the ayatollahs are to their problems going away and the international community letting them slide. After all, officials have even said publically that they were proud to take part in the massacre of non-violent activists, including children.
Following the European pushback over Zam’s execution, Tehran summoned for questioning the French and German ambassadors in Tehran as a protest, claiming that the execution was none of their business, even though Zam had refugee status in France and was kidnapped by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
The government is terrified of being held to account, which is why the world must do it.