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Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish woman from a small town in western Iran was visiting her uncle in Tehran with her family when the “morality police” stopped her at a train station.
This type of encounter happens every day in Iran: the police stop women to inspect their clothes. Mahsa was detained by the police that day for having an “improper” hijab. A few days later she died in detention.
Her death has sparked unprecedented protests across the country, with people angry at the government. The government has responded with violence.
This is not about a dress code. It is about the freedom to choose.
In full solidarity with our sisters in Iran and the courageous people who took to the streets, the European Parliament passed a resolution on the death of Mahsa Amini and the repression of women’s rights protesters in Iran by a huge majority on 6 October.
We are calling on the Iranian government to ensure an independent investigation into her death. Her loved ones, and Iranian women more generally, deserve access to truth and justice.
Mahsa Amini is another victim of Iran’s sustained discrimination and repression against women.
I am appalled by this ongoing repression and urge the Iranian Government to respect the freedom of Iranian women to choose their own dress code. It’s high time to repeal all discriminatory laws and regulations that impose mandatory hijab.
We can’t look the other way when a country uses intentional and disproportionate force against its own citizens.
The deadly repression of protests against Mahsa Amini’s killing must end immediately. We demand that the Iranian authorities immediately and unconditionally release and drop all charges against anyone imprisoned merely for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression.
Iran is a sovereign country. But no nation is an island. Calling for the respect of human rights and international laws can’t be considered incitement, as the Iranian officials and the state-controlled media accuse the diplomatic representations of Germany and other European countries. Iran should release all those EU nationals and dual nationals who have been accused of such.
A woman died in custody and what did the Iranian officials do? They arrested the journalist who first broke the news about Amini’s arrest and hospitalisation, Niloofar Hamedi. But we cannot be silenced by force. We demand her release without delay.
Shutting down internet and mobile networks in the context of protests in the country just to prevent objective reporting is a clear violation of international law.
Those who are responsible for the death of Mahsa Amini and those who are responsible for the killing, arrest, torture and harassment of protesters have to be prosecuted.
This is primarily the responsibility of the Iranian government. However, as we have seen so many years of impunity for human rights violations in Iran, the international community urgently needs to act.
I call on the UN, in particular, the UN Human Rights Council to immediately launch an assessment of what happened and make proposals for bringing those who are responsible to justice. I call on the government of Iran to closely cooperate with the UN and grant access to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
I support restrictive measures on those who are responsible for grave human rights violations in Iran, as in all other cases wherever they happen and whoever is responsible.
The EU and its member states should use all engagements with the Iranian authorities to demand an immediate end to violence against protesters.
EU embassies accredited in Tehran should use the mechanisms from the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders to support and protect people, particularly women’s rights defenders.
And we have the means to do so: the emergency grants under the Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument – Global Europe, the European Endowment for Democracy, as well as emergency visas, public statements, the monitoring of trials and prison visits.
Going further, I will continue to demand a European Parliament delegation to Iran, so we can directly raise human rights concerns with the Iranian Parliament and stand side-by-side with Iranian civil society. We are also calling on Iran to allow the opening of an EU delegation in Tehran. This is needed to ensure regular result-oriented dialogue.
Our solidarity won’t stop at words. Iranian women’s courage obliges us. We will use all the official means to ensure truth and justice for Mahsa. We will never stop supporting women who resist archaic subjugation and degrading paternalism and we will continue to fight for the respect of human rights.
Cornelia Ernst is a Left Member of the European Parliament and Chair of the European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Iran.