Mr. Delfi Abolghasem
Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Iran
Avenue Prince Baudouin, 40-42
Fax: +32 2 7623915
Strasbourg, 11 February 2003
Dear Mr. Ambassador,
I have received your invitation to tonight's reception at the Embassy of Iran on the occasion of the 24th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution. I regret to tell you that I do not intend to participate in the event.
I am deeply concerned about the lack of respect of human rights in Iran. During the year 2002, 474 people were executed in your country, according to reports from human rights organisations. In January this year only, 20 prisoners have been hanged across the country and 19 more have been sentenced to death. There are also reports of frequent corporal punishment, such as flogging and lashing, being increasingly applied.
The situation of women's rights in Iran is also of serious concern both to me and to my colleagues in the European Parliament. This issue was brought up for discussion when your minister for foreign affairs, His Excellency Mr. Kharrazi, visited the Foreign Affairs Committee on 21 January. The fact that stoning to death is still applied as punishment for women suspected of adultery was raised by several colleagues. Unfortunately, the Minister did not express any strong aversion to the practice of stoning, but blamed the development on a difference in views between the government and the Iranian judiciary. If this is the case, I urge you, Mr. Ambassador, to call on your government to ensure that the criminal code is amended, in order to put an immediate halt to this barbarian and medieval practice. A practice where men or women, whether innocent or guilty of a crime, are stoned to death in public, is never acceptable in a society which claims to respect international human rights conventions and democratic principles.
Member of the European Parliament, Sweden