31 okt Don’t forget the Iranian opposition
The European Parliament awarded the Sakharov Prize for Human Rights 2012 to the Iranian lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh and the film maker Jafar Panahi. Three days ago a small delegation of the Parliament flew to Teheran to personally present the prize to the two recipients. Not an easy task: Mrs. Sofoudeh is in a place that is as well known for its inhuman treatment of prisoners as it was during the Shah regime, the infamous Evin prison. The lawyer has been sentenced to eleven years behind bars and the interdiction to exercise her profession for twenty years, just because she tried to defend victims of the repression, after the falsified elections in Iran in 2009. Mr. Panahi received six years of house arrest and the interdiction to film for another twenty years because he was preparing a movie on the 2009 events. No way the European delegation will be able to visit Nasrin Sotoudeh. Evin is a centre of barbarian abuse and torture of prisoners, where no visitor is allowed. It is not very probable either, that the ayatollahs will lead the Europeans to Panahi’s house. So one wonders what the delegation expects from the visit: a start of a dialogue with colleagues in the Iranian parliament, as one of the members told Le Monde (October 29th)? Or is it a good way to help the world remember the Iranian spring of 2009, when votes were manipulated and the ruling party won the elections by cheating. I was in Teheran just after the elections and mingled with the protesters in the streets. It is true: we must not forget the courage of women, girls, young men, grandfathers and grandmothers who went to the streets to demand respect for the truth and the laws of the Islamic Republic, only to face the sticks and guns of the police and secret service, sent by the ‘black’ regime to submit the ‘green’ protesters. Peaceful demonstrations were answered by bullets, wounding and killing hundreds. Others were tortured, thrown in prisons, executed without a trial. Heroes who didn’t ask for a revolution, but for fair elections. They were not against fundamentalism, but in favor of a little more freedom. Three years later, the autocrats around Ali Khameini and Mahmoud Ahmedinedjad still have to put a lawyer in a cell and shut the mouth of an artist. This is the proof of the insecurity of a regime that has to crush citizens who fight for their rights and their freedom in order to have a good night’s sleep. The same regima that accuses the rest of the world (with a few exceptions) of not respecting Iran.
It is good to know that the European Parliament thought of giving the prize to the two arrested members of Pussy Riot, the Russian rock group that sang an anti-Putin song in a church in Moscow. Nadejda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alekhina, mothers of young children, have recently been sent to a correction camp, one of the toughest systems in the world. The Russian president is one of the few supporters of the regime in Teheran and behaves in many ways just as the Iranian leadership. Autocracies among each other, using the same answers when the people disagree.