Assita Kanko writes a letter to High Representative Josep Borrell: “The EU must do everything it can to save Ahmadreza Djalali”

25 November 2020
Assita Kanko

MEP Assita Kanko wrote a letter to High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell. In it, she calls for pressure to be put on Iran to save the life of Iranian-Swedish scientist Ahmadreza Djalali. Dozens of MEPs signed the letter. “The EU must do everything it can to save Dr Ahmadreza Djalali, who now also has Swedish citizenship,” Assita Kanko says.

Three years ago, Iranian-Swedish scientist Ahmadreza Djalali - who is also affiliated with the VUB - was sentenced to death in Iran. Iran has now reportedly ordered the man to be placed in isolation and his death sentence to be carried out no later than a week after 24 November. The EU is now abandoning its own citizen, Assita Kanko argues. “If Europe is serious about respect for human rights, new steps must be taken now. EU sanctions against the Iranian officials involved in this case are urgently needed. MEP Assita Kanko is a member of the European Parliament’s Committee on Human Rights.

Dozens of MEPs signed the letter

Assita Kanko wants the EU to do everything it can to save Ahmadreza Djalali, who now also has Swedish citizenship. “After the European Parliament has in the past explicitly called for the immediate release of Ahmadreza Djalali, I once again put a parliamentary question to the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell. I have urged my colleagues to co-sign the following letter to Josep Borrell and be involved so that the full diplomatic weight of the European Parliament and the EU can be used to prevent the execution of Dr Ahmadreza Djalali.”

Not a fair trial

The UN Human Rights Council has already identified serious violations of Dr Ahmadreza Djalali’s right to a fair trial, according to Assita Kanko. “The Council then called for his immediate release, and the European Parliament has also repeatedly called on the Iranian authorities to do so. Dr Ahmadreza Djalali has been in a cell on death row for three years this month, and his execution seems imminent. I would therefore like to know what new steps Europe now intends to take to achieve his immediate and unconditional release. The man must be able to return to his wife and two children in Sweden as soon as possible.”


The letter from Assita Kanko to Josep Borrell:

Dear Mr High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell Fontelles,

We, the undersigned members of the European Parliament, were alarmed by reports that the Swedish-Iranian academic Dr Ahmadreza Djalali was transferred to solitary confinement in the Raja’i Shahr prison in Karaj to await his execution, which was to be carried out within a week. On 24 November 2020, he called his wife and said that this was his last goodbye.

As you know, Dr Djalali, an EU citizen, was sentenced to death three years ago after an unfair trial.

We strongly urge you to call on the Iranian authorities to take immediate action to review this verdict and not to execute Dr Djalali, and to encourage individual EU Foreign Ministers to do the same.

Furthermore, we ask you to prepare restrictive measures against Iranian officials involved in the unfair trial, imprisonment and imminent execution of Dr Djalali and to consider further sanctions against Iran if its authorities do not agree to the demands of the EU and its Member States to release Dr Djalali.

Yours faithfully,

Assita Kanko

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