When it comes to human rights, just how triumphant was the recent high-profile European parliamentary delegation visit to Iran (which we reported about last month)?
Well, let’s see: the delegation did meet with two eminent political prisoners, dissident filmmaker Jafar Panahi and human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh. For that, delegation members were immediately accused by voices within Tehran of holding a “secret” meeting with “seditionists.” Good start.
But while delegation leader Tarja Cronberg and seven other MEPs were allowed to meet with Sotoudeh and Panahi, albeit begrudgingly, Tehran was willing to grant them no such access to another group of political prisoners: imprisoned Green Movement leaders Mir-Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi.
With the opposition candidates all but forgotten by Europe, a recent report by The Economist said hopes for their release were dimming. According to the report, it was highly unlikely that Rouhani – who according to the publication “appears to have scented danger” and is “always tip-toeing on a tightrope” – would free the two as a humanitarian gesture. A timely reminder from the Economist:
Working to release political prisoners, including the two leaders under house arrest, was one of Mr Rohani’s key campaign promises. It won him support from opposition activists and coaxed many would-be boycotters to the polls. Veterans of Mr Mousavi’s Green Movement gleefully chanted their imprisoned leader’s name at election rallies, at no time louder than on the eve of Mr Rohani’s victory.
The Green Movement arose as an outlet for Iranians, particularly young Iranians, who became increasingly frustrated with the corruption and stagnation plaguing their country. But with its leaders still imprisoned and with said freedoms clearly compromised, where exactly is Europe’s human rights triumph? And why, post-Geneva, doesn’t the media care anymore?