Germany vice chancellor and economic affairs minister Sigmar Gabriel with Iran president Hassan Rouhani.
(photo credit: ATTA KENARE / AFP)
BERLIN – The German government is under fire for not reversing its largely pro-regime policy and for providing humanitarian aid to an alleged Iranian mass murderer – and possible replacement as the supreme leader of the Islamic Republic – who oversaw the country’s brutal justice system for a decade.
The possible successor of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi, is currently in a neurological center for treatment in the German city of Hanover.
“The nationwide protests against the Islamist mullah regime in Iran make it obvious that the federal government’s Iran policy has reached a dead end. For decades, Germany’s Iran policy has supported an Islamist dictatorship that today can only be upheld with utmost violence against its own people. We demand an end of the collaboration with a terror-spreading regime which is rejected internally and externally, by the people of Iran and by Iran’s neighbors. We expect clear political support of the demands for freedom and democracy in Iran,” Ulrike Becker, a spokeswoman for the German-based Stop the Bomb campaign, said in a statement sent to The Jerusalem Post
The anti-Iranian-regime NGO seeks to improve human rights in Iran and to end the country’s work on nuclear weapons.
Nasrin Amirsedghi, a German-Iranian dissident who has written extensively on human rights violations in the Islamic Republic, told the Post on Friday that “my enemy is a system, whose representatives have for 39 years terrorized not only the Iranian people but the entire world.”
German-Iran relations crisscross many sectors, raising questions about Chancellor Angela Merkel’s commitment to combating Iranian terrorism and its lethal antisemitic policies toward the Jewish state.
A spokesman for Merkel said on Wednesday that “Germany is still one of the most important trade partners of Iran.” German exports to Iran in 2016 – the most recent year for data – totaled €2.59 billion. In 2016, Klaus-Dieter Fritsche, a German state secretary responsible for intelligence, met with Iran’s top spy and cleric Mahmoud Alavi.
Stop the Bomb founding member Fathiyeh Naghibzadeh said on January 1: “I call on Chancellor Angela Merkel and Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel to take a clear stance against the dictatorship in Iran and to support the freedom-loving people. Silence or even support of the mullahs will isolate Germany and Europe in the region and worldwide.”
The Iranian dissident added, “In 2009, the West abandoned millions of Iranian people who demonstrated for months against the fundamentalist dictatorship. It has been claimed that only the middle class has demonstrated while poor people still supported the Islamist system.
Now, the uprising has started in the provinces, and the slogans of the poor against the fundamentalists are even more radical.”
A spokesman for the Merkel administration referred the Post to a January 3 briefing that said the Merkel administration is closely “watching what is happening on the ground” in Iran because the “situation remains unclear.” According to the briefing, the German government said an “improvement in the human rights situation is an important concern” and the Merkel administration acknowledged that human rights have not improved under the so-called moderate Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.
Meanwhile, in the German state of Lower Saxony, the medical treatment of Shahroudi, the former head of Iran’s infamous Justice Ministry from 1999 to 2009, prompted referral to the public prosecutor. Olef Reichert, spokesman for the state governor, wrote the Post by email on Friday, saying that the “Lower Saxony government welcomes the decision by the Lower Saxony justice minister to clarify the matter with the state prosecutor.”
The nature of the prosecutor’s investigation is unclear.
The mass-circulated German paper Bild reported that the center is treating Shahroudi for a brain tumor.
A public letter was sent to Stephan Weil, the Social Democratic governor of Lower Saxony, accusing Shahroudi of being responsible for executing adolescents. The letter said the state of Lower Saxony was harboring an “Iranian regime butcher.” The letter also stated Shahroudi “should be charged and condemned for his crimes against humanity.”
Weil’s office forwarded the letter to the Justice Ministry, which sent it to the prosecutor for investigation. The Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung paper in Hanover first reported on the letter and Shahroudi’s medical treatment.
Volker Beck, a Middle East expert and former Green Party lawmaker, tweeted to his nearly 90,000 followers: “A mass murderer enjoys German medicine and humanitarian protection?” On Shahroudi’s watch as justice minister he allowed the arbitrary arrests of political and human rights activists, the torture of prisoners and the closure of reform newspapers. He is a strict disciple of Khamenei and was a student of Khamenei’s predecessor, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the revolutionary founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Video footage on Twitter on Saturday showed anti-Iranian regime demonstrators protesting Shahroudi’s stay in front of the medical center.
Post press queries to Dr. Madjid Samii, the president of the International Neuroscience Institute in Hanover, where Shahroudi is being treated, were not immediately returned. Samii traveled with the German foreign minister to Iran, as part of his first 2015 business delegation to Iran after the nuclear deal was reached. Samii is considered a close ally of the ruling clerical regime.
“I question how Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel can sleep with a good conscience after his business trip to meet with the mullahs, the enemies of the West,” Amirsedghi said about the visit.
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