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Iranian women deserve a tough line from the EU – and Mahsa Amini the Sakharov Prize

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and in no way represent the editorial position of Euronews.

Mahsa Amini’s example continues to challenge us, in Sweden, Europe and beyond, to dare to speak the truth and stand up for what is right. This is why I nominated her for this year’s Sakharov Prize, writes MEP David Lega.

A year ago, Jina Mahsa Amini dared to challenge the Iranian regime by showing her hair in public. For this, they murdered her.


But she did not disappear so easily and her death was not mourned in silence. The world remains captivated and inspired by his courage.

The mass protests that followed the assassination of Mahsa Amini showed not only the brutality but also the insecurity of a regime born in violence and marked, since, by repression and regional unrest.

A regime that uses its moral police to impose political submission at home. Who supports Hezbollah, Hamas and other terrorist organizations abroad.

He seeks “death to Israel”, stakes his future on the Chinese Communist Party and aligns himself with Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong-Un, Bashar al-Assad and Nicolás Maduro.

And who is now sending his death machines to Russia to indiscriminately kill Ukrainians.

The Iranians are the ones who suffered the most

Fighting the atrocities sponsored by this regime is why, last fall, our KD party and I were the first in the Riksdag and the European Parliament to lobby to call a spade a spade and finally label the Guardian Corps a the Islamic Revolution (IRGC) as a “terrorist organization.”

That is why, in January, I defended the European Parliament’s resolution clearly stating that the terrible human rights violations in Iran were jeopardizing ongoing efforts to revive the nuclear deal with the EU and its partners – and why I then voted to suspend these talks.

We can never accept the Iranian regime’s capacity to wield nuclear weapons; but neither has this regime deserved the sanctions relief that a nuclear deal would inevitably bring.

It was of course the Iranians who suffered the most. Those in Iran who tell the truth about this, who resist, risk imprisonment and worse.

We have seen recurring mass protests: against oppression, corruption and bad governance – and in response, recurring repressions.

Last year, more than 500 protesters inspired by Mahsa Amini were killed. His uncle and father were inexplicably detained. The regime is afraid that more people will take to the streets.


This is why I nominated Mahsa Amini for the Sakharov Prize

“Women, life and freedom”: this was the message inspired by Mahsa Amini. It is a universal message of dignity and opportunity, wholeness and fairness – for women everywhere, and indeed for all people: since to silence and confine women is to stagnate, and ultimately die, as a society.

And yet it is a message of hope that Iran’s sclerotic leaders simply cannot stomach, much less deliver.

Mahsa Amini’s example continues to challenge us, in Sweden, Europe and beyond: to dare to speak the truth, to stand up for what is right – and to keep alive our hope and desire for a better future. To fight against injustice.

This is why I nominated her — in our Swedish press and within the European People’s Party (EPP), the Christian Democratic group in the European Parliament — for the European Parliament’s 2023 Sakharov Prize, an honor bestowed on an extraordinary advocate of human dignity and human rights. .

This is why I called for a debate at last week’s plenary session, to commemorate Mahsa Amini, one year after her assassination, and why I am so determined now, after official support from our EPP Group, to present his candidacy to the entire Assembly. European Parliament: to show our active and continued support for “Women, Life and Freedom” in Iran.


Engaging with Tehran means betraying all those still fighting for freedom

And that is why, finally, I think that neither my country, Sweden, nor the EU should engage further with the Iranian regime on outstanding issues, including the resumption of nuclear negotiations – until all European citizens unjustly detained in Iran are returned home safely.

Why should the brutal treatment, even execution, of innocent victims be rewarded with face time or face-saving measures?

This would betray the cause of Mahsa Amini and all those women and men who are still fighting for life and freedom.

Unfortunately, we have seen the Belgian government – ​​and now (once again, it seems) the US administration – carry out prisoner exchanges.

Of course, I welcome and celebrate with their families the safe return of all the hostages to Iran.


But will such one-off exchanges, sometimes purchased at great expense, protect our citizens in the long term? Will they deter further malicious actions from the regime? Even more fundamentally, what happened to the principle “no negotiations with terrorists”?

I believe that such agreements are not a good approach, as I fear that they will only encourage more hostage-taking in the future.

A firm and united stance to keep the authoritarian regime under control

The EU should instead use every tool at its disposal to pressure the Iranian regime to change: by labeling the IRGC as terrorist, by increasing the cost of human rights violations with more sanctions from the EU – and refusing to return to the table until everyone is wrongly held. EU citizens are freed.

Even more, we, the European Union, need a strong, coordinated and united stance on Iran, alongside the United States, the United Kingdom and all our global partners. The bad behavior of this authoritarian regime must be controlled.

The fight for women, for life and for freedom continues in Iran and around the world. The spark of Mahsa Amini’s vision for a better future, ignited by her extraordinary courage, continues to shine.

Let us honor his memory and that of all those who suffered so much defending his cause. Let us dare to follow his example.

MEP David Lega (Kristdemokraterna/Sweden) is the permanent rapporteur for Iran in the European People’s Party (EPP) group in the European Parliament.

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