As delegation of MEPs prepare for Iran trip, the EU awards human rights prize to imprisoned Iranian human rights activists.



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Despite strong opposition by human rights activists, US senators and a number of MEPs, the European Parliament is sending a delegation to Iran next week. The delegation is being led by Finnish MEP Tarja Cronberg, a member of the EU Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee. And yet today, the EU awarded the Sakharov Human Rights Prize to imprisoned human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh and filmmaker Jafar Panahi for their courage in defending their own and others'' freedoms, and in defiance of the Iranian regime. This duplicity is evidence of a European Union that does far more harm than good.

Eight MEPs and eight EU officials make up the delegation heading to Iran this weekend. The EP’s Vice President, Alejo Vidal-Quadras, from the European People’s Part group, the largest in the assembly, has said that "any formal delegation from the European Parliament to Iran would be extremely counter-productive coming so soon after increased sanctions were announced aimed at forcing Iran’s hand to abandoning its nuclear ambitions, as well as rejecting not only human rights violations, but also repression, fundamentalism and terrorism."

The last time a “friendship delegation” from the European Parliament visited Iran in 2007, the regime staged a public hanging of political prisoners. Next week, the delegation is due to meet with Iranian Chief Justice Sadegh Larijani, who was the subject of sanctions by the EU in March for his role in human rights violations.

Only on Tuesday, the European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said she was "appalled" by the execution of 10 Iranians convicted of drug trafficking offences. Today, the final sessions of the Iran Tribunal investigation into the execution of 20,000 political prisoners by Iran in the 1980s has opened in The Hague.

The failure of the EU to construct any kind of rational foreign policy is clear. Most worryingly, in a letter to delegation leader Tarja Cronberg from Kazem Jalali, there is a suggestion of a reciprocal Iranian visit to the EU.



When will the European Union stand up to the World’s foremost state sponsor of terrorism?




UPDATE

Iran has reportedly cancelled the visit after refusing to let the EU meet with the award recipients.



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