Caroline Pauwels is the rector of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), the place Ahmadreza Djalali is affiliated as visitor professor. Alexander Mattelaer is the vice dean for analysis of the VUB’s Institute for European Research and a senior analysis fellow at Egmont — the Royal Institute for Worldwide Relations.
In a faraway jail, an Iranian-Swedish scientist awaits execution.
Ahmadreza Djalali, a specialist in catastrophe medication sentenced to demise for allegedly collaborating with Israeli intelligence, was informed final week that his execution is imminent.
Confronted with this grim growth, Sweden and Belgium, in addition to the NGO Amnesty Worldwide, have deployed all attainable means to halt his execution.
If the European Union is critical about defending the rule of legislation and the rights of its residents, it wants to come back out strongly in protection of Djalali too. It can’t permit Djalali, like different twin residents earlier than him, to be decreased to mere pawns in a sport of geopolitical chess.
Whereas Djalali could also be of Iranian descent, he’s additionally a Swedish and EU citizen, since 2018. Most significantly, he’s a human being who has been denied a good trial. The U.N.’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has labeled his incarceration as arbitrary and in contravention of the Common Declaration of Human Rights and the Worldwide Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. His confession was obtained underneath duress.
The information of Djalali’s imminent execution occurred, maybe not coincidentally, simply as a Belgian court docket opened a trial towards 4 Iranian nationals suspected of plotting a terrorist assault on an Iranian opposition rally in Paris.
As such, Iran will not be solely failing to ensure the rights of Djalali but in addition seems to be looking for to instrumentalize the destiny of an EU citizen in an effort to place strain on judicial proceedings in Europe.
The Belgian court docket is now within the place of getting to go an impartial verdict on a failed terrorist plot within the data that its ruling might imply the distinction between life and demise for a scholar incarcerated in Iran.
In opposition to this backdrop, the EU can’t afford to remain silent. A Swedish citizen faces capital punishment for crimes that stay unproven.
Up to now, the EU — and its international coverage arm, the European Exterior Motion Service (EEAS), specifically — has prided itself on the vital function it performed to find a diplomatic settlement on the Iranian nuclear program.
It can’t now permit Iran to make use of Djalali as a part of a cynical quid professional quo maneuver in its diplomatic video games. It’s unreasonable for Tehran to count on the EU to not intervene in its inside affairs whereas it’s disregarding the rights of an EU citizen and placing strain on the rule of legislation in EU member international locations.
Students reminiscent of Djalali — who’s affiliated with Belgium’s Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) — are servants of the general public curiosity. They commit themselves to increasing the physique of information and passing it on to the subsequent era. Djalali did so within the subject of catastrophe medication. Because the world battles to comprise the raging COVID-19 pandemic, the efforts scientists and medical employees like him are extra essential than ever.
In Iran, which was one of many early international locations to be fiercely hit by the virus, even convicts had been referred to as upon to help within the emergency effort. Djalali himself acted as liaison relaying emergency protocols developed by our college hospital in Brussels to Iranian authorities. But in a grim show of cynicism, the Iranian regime has chosen to deal with Djalali like a cat taking part in with its prey. Not solely does this hamper the continued battle towards the continued pandemic, it’s an affront to human dignity.
As students, residents and colleagues of Djalali, we count on the EU to take pressing motion.
Firstly, we name upon the European Fee and the EEAS to affix the European Parliament in condemning the imprisonment of EU-Iranian twin nationals by the Iranian authorities following unfair trials.
Secondly, we count on the European establishments to mobilize the EU’s collective clout behind the continued efforts of the Swedish and Belgian governments to make sure that the demise penalty will not be enforced and to insist on Djalali’s proper to a good trial.
Thirdly, the European Council should acknowledge that it has a novel alternative to re-energize European diplomacy vis-à-vis Iran. If the Iranian nuclear settlement is to be resurrected, the state of affairs calls for the multilateral engagement of the EU in addition to respect for core EU values by Iran.
Within the destiny of a single human being, a number of essential points have coincided: the necessity to defend the rights of EU residents and the rule of legislation, and the urgency for Europe to talk with a robust voice on the worldwide stage.
The EU should use this chance to show its mettle as a diplomatic actor that may interact with Iran constructively — with out jeopardizing what it stands for.