Giulio Terzi: Western Policymakers have Turned a ‘Blind Eye’ to Rouhani’s Human Rights Record
Former Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Giulio Terzi, wrote another opinion piece calling for European governments to sever economic ties with the ruthless and violent Iranian regime. The piece, entitled ‘Six Years After Rouhani’s Election, Moderation is as Far Away as Ever for Iran’, appeared in Euractiv on Friday, March 8.
In the piece, Terzi criticized the appointment of Ebrahim Raisi as Head of the Iranian Judiciary which took place last week. Although Raisi’s predecessor was far from a moderate, his appointment represents a step back for Iranian human rights. “Raisi represents the worst features of the Iranian judiciary,” Terzi wrote, “at best his appointment by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei signals the regime’s public disregards for international human rights principles, and at worst it sets the stage for a dramatic upsurge in politically-motivated killings.”
#Iran 6 ears after #Rouhani’s election, moderation is as far away as ever 4 Iran @EURACTIV https://t.co/F7CRk2j2cy @GlobalCRL @HandsOffCain_En @eu_eeas @ispionline @Rebeccamieli @LetiziaDo @LaNotiziaTweet @GeopoliticalCen @GioSallusti @grimolizzi @agostinoballero @fertermentini
— Giulio Terzi (@GiulioTerzi) March 11, 2019
A Dark Past
Raisi’s past is of particular concern. Like previous heads of the judiciary, he was part of the “death commissions” that took part in the 1988 massacre when regime agents rounded up and executed more than 30,000 members of the Iranian opposition. Many of those killed were members of the People’s Mujahedin Organisation of Iran (MEK), the largest pro-democracy opposition group in Iran. Their only crime was their “failure to demonstrate loyalty to the theocratic dictatorship,” Terzi lamented.
The 30,000 executions took place in the span of a single summer. Many were buried in unmarked graves, the whereabouts of which the regime has continued to withhold, leaving many families in the dark on the fate of their loved ones.
The massacre was the regime’s response to growing calls for democracy. The MEK has established itself as a viable alternative to the regime’s ruthless branch of religious fascism, which it remains to this day. “The massacre failed in its goal,” argues Terzi, “the PMOI (MEK) went on to gain in strength and popularity over the next three decades.” Today, the MEK is instrumental in coordinating protests against the regime’s economic mismanagement and rampant human rights abuses. It played a central role in the nationwide protests that rapidly spread across the country in 2018.
Like in 1988, the regime’s response has been to suppress protests through a violent crackdown on the Iranian opposition. In January alone, more than 8,000 Iranian protestors were detained and 50 were killed.
A Sustained Crackdown
When viewed in the context of recent events, Raisi’s appointment can be seen as a continued part of the regime’s backlash against the MEK and the Iranian opposition. Terzi called it
“a deliberate message to Iran’s activist community that the regime is ready to carry out further massacres.”
There have already been signs of impending violence. The clerical regime has made overt threats of executions against those engaging in protests and strikes against the regime.
Iranian regime’s President Hassan Rouhani, often championed among European governments as a “moderate” influence within the Iranian regime, has shown indifference towards the appointment of murderers and criminals to senior positions in the Iranian judiciary. He has also filled his own cabinet with those that took part in the 1988 massacre. These appointments show that at best, Rouhani is a loyal servant to the Supreme Leader and at worst, he is another hardliner, happy to promote murderers and brutes.
“Western policymakers have turned a blind eye to his record,” Terzi asserts, “because of their expectations about opening up Iranian markets and gaining access to Iranian oil.” “Such a short-sighted attitude cannot be a guiding principle for Western policies toward the Islamic Republic anymore,” Terzi concludes.
Terzi calls for the immediate severance of ties with Iranian businesses and diplomats. “The international community should push for an independent inquiry about all the crimes committed by the Iranian regime,” he asserts. If Tehran refuses, then international governments must embrace the only viable alternative to regime rule: the MEK.