“Where liberty is, there is my country”
The people of Iran are obviously not happy with its current government, and they protest. The Iranian government has in response arrested, tortured, raped and killed protesters in order to scare the population.
I categorically protest against this unlawful, inhuman and debasing treatment of Iranian citizens. I fully align with the position of the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy saying that the Iranians “deserve better”.
Only 20 years ago my own country was on the brink of a transformation. Bulgaria was a grim place where the oppressive regime had a tight grip on each and every citizen, instilling fear and mistrust. Even today there are still people in Bulgaria dreaming of a “strong hand” in government. That is why I know how precious and fragile democracy is.
The Sofia City Prosecutor’s Office has declined to initiate a formal investigation against police officers for the severe suppression of the protest in front of the Bulgarian Parliament on 14 January 2009.
I could not disagree more with this conclusion. I was myself witness of cases of police brutality during that day in my attempt to protest peacefully. I wrote about the police brutality the same day (you can read a Google translation of my account). I was later not surprised to see that the Bulgarian Parliament declined to form an ad hoc commission to investigate events during that day.
Now the Prosecutor’s Office tells me I didn’t see what I saw; that I am not able to discern between necessary and unnecessary use of force. True, it is up to that institution to conduct a formal investigation of events; it is also up to the prosecutors to decide whether there are grounds for starting an investigation in the first place.
But this development given all the information that we have about the events is really cynical. It is also exonerating all the acts of police brutality during that day. It is delegitimizing the whole Bulgarian law enforcement system only to protect the political instigators of that brutality.
Strangely enough, this announcement comes just a few days after the Minister of Justice announced 57 measures to reform the judiciary in order to respond to the criticism of the European Commission and Member States about our justice system.
Make no mistake – until ALL crimes in this country are prosecuted, no matter WHO committed these crimes – we will not have achieved any meaningful reform of the judiciary.
Iran’s military chief of staff Major-General Hassan Firouzabadi has said that the alleged “interference” of European Union Member States in the riots following the June presidential election means the bloc has “lost its qualification to hold nuclear talks.”
I have already noted the problem of using diplomatic missions for helping protesters.
This argument, however, goes to a different level of reasoning.
The “qualification” to participate in talks has to do with one’s legal status, not with one’s actions. It is useless to try and disguise political statements behind some international public law nonsense.
But another question arises – is EU’s “Iran fantasy” now over?
EUobserver reports that Italy had instructed its embassy in Tehran to provide humanitarian aid to wounded protesters, pending a coordinated response from all EU countries. Austria has also instructed its embassy to provide first aid to protestors. But Sweden – which is about to take over the EU presidency – said it cannot grant asylum to refugees. Belgium also thinks that it should not allow refugees on the territory of its embassy.
France and Finland have also called for a common EU approach on how to deal with refugees and asylum seekers.
In the same time the Iranian government has accused the UK and France in meddling with the crisis.
What should EU governments do? From a diplomatic and consular law perspective – nothing. They should not use embassies in such a way that can infringe article 41, of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations – containing a duty a duty not to interfere in the internal affairs of the receiving state.
However, the EU can do a lot by working with the US, China, Russia, and other stakeholders to contain Iran, as claims François Godement from the European Council on Foreign Relations. A team of experts from RAND Corporation also believes that a concerted, multilateral approach is needed to manage the Iranian threat. This also implies a common European approach to Iran for a change.
Posted in Foreign and Security Policy, Human Rights, Institutional Affairs
Tagged China, elections, embassies, European Union, Iran, Member States, protests, Russia, USA
Moldova’s Constitutional Court ordered the Central Election Commission to carry out the recount after receiving the request from the Communist President Vladimir Voronin.
The opposition demands a new election.
Meanwhile EU diplomats in Moldova are trying to verify reports of gross human rights violations in the aftermath of anti-government protests. Havier Solana’s special envoy to Moldova, Hungarian diplomat Kalman Mizsei, has been in Chisinau for the past week on a mission to establish a dialogue between government and opposition forces and to gather facts.
This is a welcome development, but it remains to be seen whether tensions will subside. I am impressed by claims of civil organizations in Moldova reported by EurActiv that claim that preconditions are being created for the establishment of a police and dictatorial regime in the Republic of Moldova.
Today democracy obviously comes in short supply.