Thursday, October 28, 2021

Iran Feature: Zahra Bahrami, the Netherlands, and The Failure of Quiet Diplomacy (Ashtary)

Monday, 31 January 2011

EA WorldView – The execution on Saturday of the Dutch-Iranian citizen, Zahra Bahrami, is clear evidence of the failure of quiet diplomacy by the Government of the Netherlands.

The protection of human rights and quiet diplomacy do not have have anything in common. Human rights organizations focusing on Iran have long been saying that the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran pressures individuals and governments to keep quiet. When governments use quiet diplomacy to try and negotiate with the IRI. they are falling into a trap.

This is not a call for an end to diplomacy. The point is that the time is long overdue to make some noise. Human Rights organizations and defenders have been saying this for years.

On Saturday, January 29, the Dutch citizen, Zahra Bahrami was executed on allegations of drug smuggling — far from the first time that human rights violators have used this pretext to hold and execute political prisoners — even though the Foreign Ministry in the Netherlands was told that the judicial process was not yet completed. The actions of the Government of the Netherlands to freeze business and diplomatic ties with the Islamic Republic of Iran is a good first step, but it should not be the last.

The Islamic regime has accused the Netherlands of trying to undermine its rule through the support of free media and human rights organizations. It has put the Dutch humanitarian organization, Hivos, on an “enemy’s list” of supposed regime-change agents and has prevented Iranian citizens from having contact with the foundation, along with dozens of others.

There is a lot of introspection in the Dutch-Iranian community at the moment. People are asking what they could have done and why they stayed so quiet. One such person summed up the feelings, saying, “I trusted that the Dutch government would do everything in its power to protect its citizens, but I was wrong. We should have been more active.”

It is clear that  many members of the Dutch parliament were shocked by the execution of one of its citizens. Some members of the Dutch-Iranian community are asking why this is so. Have they not
noticed that Iran executes more of its own citizens than any other country in the world? Have they missed the news that there has been an average of one execution every eight hours since the beginning of the year?

Here are some minimum recommendations for the Dutch government.

1. The Netherlands should lead an international effort to challenge Iran’s refusal to accept dual nationality.

2. The Dutch government should lead efforts to bring the issue of human rights in Iran to the European Parliament.

3. The Netherlands should crack down on the operations of Iranian intelligence officers located here because the Dutch-Iranian community feels unsafe. Over the past two years, intelligence personnel attached to the Iranian Embassy in the Netherlands have been seen publicly photographing Dutch-Iranian citizens attending demonstrations and are known to be collecting information.

4. The Netherlands should stop issuing visas for any purpose to personnel of the Revolutionary Guards, the judiciary, and related organisations.

5. The Netherlands should approve the asylum applications of political refugees who left Iran since 2009. Many of their applications have been denied.

6. Respect for human rights needs to become a business concern as wellas a political concern.

7. The Dutch Government should lead an effort to call for the immediate release of all prisoners of conscience in Iran.

8. The Dutch Government should protest the use of (forced) confessions against prisoners of conscience and others.

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