BRUSSELS, April 24, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The AJC Transatlantic Institute condemns a planned European Parliament delegation trip to Iran. The visit, expected to begin next week, will only serve to further undermine human rights in Iran.
"The European Parliament rightly, albeit belatedly, recognized the struggle for human rights in Iran last December by choosing two courageous Iranian activists to receive the prestigious Sakharov Prize," said Daniel Schwammenthal, Director of the AJC Transatlantic Institute.
The 2012 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought was awarded to Iranian lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh and filmmaker Jafar Panahi. A European Parliament delegation visit to Iran was canceled last October after Tehran refused to allow the MEPs to meet with the two winners and present the prize to them.
"Inexplicably eager to make the trip, the European Parliament has now dropped the requirement to meet with the Sakharov prize winners, thus completely undermining the powerful human rights message that the award sent to Iran's oppressive, internationally isolated leadership," Schwammenthal said.
"By letting the regime effectively dictate who they can and cannot meet, the European delegation visit will be nothing more than a propaganda tool for Tehran, which will present it as 'evidence' that the Islamic Republic is far from being isolated," Schwammenthal continued. "Consorting with Iran's repressive leadership is a disservice to the two prize winners and thousands of other Iranians who are deprived of their basic rights."
At least two MEPs are reportedly planning to arrive in Tehran on Friday -- the Chair of the Parliament's Delegation for Relations with Iran Tarja Cronberg (Greens/EFA, Finland) and Vice-Chair Cornelia Ernst (GUE/NGL, Germany).
"I can't fathom what these MEPs are hoping to achieve with this trip," said Schwammenthal. "The grave human rights situation in Iran requires a strong, united response from the European Union, not photo-ops with the repressors themselves."
SOURCE American Jewish Committee