The champion of public executions Hassan Rohani was welcomed yesterday in Paris by the French President Francois Hollande, as well as by FEMEN activists.
While Rohani was shaking hands with French diplomats, FEMEN were preparing a very special message for him. Our sextremists were pleased to accommodate the Iranian president during his visit. For Rohani, FEMEN activists performed a mocked-execution on the Debilly Bridge in the center of Paris. The performance was supported by a 20 metres banner placed on the same bridge: “Welcome Rohani, executioner of freedom”! Preparing this action, we just wanted to make him feel like home.
Now, without irony. This is the first official visit for 16 years of an Iranian leader to Europe, and is therefore tremendous event. While for governments, as we see, it is an occasion to make million worth deals with now unsanctioned Iran, for many civilians and human rights activists like us, it is a day of ugly disturbance and bitter taste of betrayal. It is also a day to put the light on what is often ignored or silenced on purpose, as this is our mission.
Each year in Iran, about 800 people are killed under death penalty and thousands are rotting away in Teheran’s Evin death jail cells. Amongst them: feminists, gays, unbelievers, minors, progressive thinkers accused of criticising a theocratic regime or simply not following the imposed medieval social rules.
Rohani’s Iran is a sanguinary dictatorship with unfair elections monitored by a religious regime. Peaceful protests are violently repressed. Terrorist groups are supported and funded. Iran still one of the world’s five biggest prisons for journalists. It is in Iran that the veil is imposed on all women (which makes it a symbol of oppression). There young Iranians have been jailed for having filmed a cheerful innocent video clip singing and dancing to the song “Happy”. It is in Iran of sometimes called “progressive” Rohani that young women are imprisoned for attempting to watch a volleyball game. It is again there, that men can legally marry their adoptive daughters as soon as they are thirteen. The United Nations General Assembly in 2015 stated that the number of executions in Iran reached the highest level under Rohani. In Iran, the worst crimes and violations of fundamental human rights are committed by its regime and in the name of the state’s religion.
It is with this state, that France, Italy and certainly soon other European states, are building today a closer economic and therefore, political relationship. France, after its disgusting partnerships with freedom-less states like Qatar and Saudi Arabia, partners to yet another tyranny: Iran. Here, it is impossible to separate the economic from human rights or civil freedoms. Signing contracts with Iran is signing an agreement for all the cruelties and oppression people suffer as these economic deals will be feeding the regime that executes, imprisons, oppresses and dictates. I am dubious, the new economic agreements with Iran will guarantee the wide development of the quality of life of Iranians, but I am sure it will guarantee the development of the theocratic regime of the Islamic Republic of Iran, giving it more power and confidence. Even if new economic possibilities will appear for Iranians with these agreements, the regime will only use them to smash the last hopes for a radical change that were loudly shown by the Iranian green movement and individual brave civil acts since then.
European leaders are running after economical agreements with Iran since the lifting of the sanctions. Let’s not ignore that for these economical partnerships European countries compromise the universal values of freedom and equality. By remaining silent about such issues, human dignity and civil rights, which make Europe so precious, governments demonstrate their current priorities. We should consider that market trades are not superior to human rights. The European Union betrays its own values by welcoming dictators that have blood on their hands. If the European Union is really at risk to collapse, as some claim, then it is certainly not because of welcoming refugees but tyrants like Rohani, from whom many are forced to run away and seek shelter.
With a bitter taste of slowly losing the sacred values of European freedom, we resist the dirty politics of business over democracy, politics of money over lives. We alarm ourselves. We scream “shame” to the authorities. And we remember the free spirit of the streets of Teheran in 1979 or again in 2009. We believe in change as we have no other option.
Long live the free spirit of Europe! Long live the free spirit of Iran!