Flemish Parliament makes a new appeal to Iran: “Release Professor Ahmadreza Djalali immediately!”

25 November 2020

The Flemish Parliament approved a new resolution calling on Iran to allow VUB guest professor Ahmadreza Djalali to live. Professor Ahmadreza Djalali has been detained on suspicion of espionage since 2016. He was sentenced to death. This week he received the news that it will be carried out soon.

On Tuesday 24 November, Vida Mehrannia received bad news about her husband, Ahmadreza Djalali. The Iranian professor, a guest lecturer at the VUB, had been placed in solitary confinement in prison and received the news that he would soon be executed.

This threatens to bring this inhumane story to a terrible end. “Our thoughts go first to Professor Djalali’s wife and children, who have been going through this hell for years,” the N-VA responds. On Wednesday, together with all the other Flemish parties, the N-VA voted for a new resolution in the Flemish Parliament calling on Iran not to profile itself as a state that has no respect for the lives of its own citizens.

Ahmadreza Djalali, a professor in Sweden and at the VUB, was arrested in Iran in early 2016 on charges of espionage. In a mock trial, the Iranian court sentenced him to death. Now Iran is threatening to carry out that sentence.

Official petition for clemency by Geert Bourgeois

Amnesty International has long been taking action to change Iran’s mind after it conducted its own independent investigation into the merits of the accusations. Flanders has also called for the unconditional release of Ahmadreza Djalali through resolutions on 9 November 2017 and 2 July 2020. The then Minister-President Geert Bourgeois submitted an official petition for clemency to the Iranian ambassador on 13 December 2017.

New political signal to Iran

“We have been following this dire situation since October 2017, when Professor Ahmadreza Djalali was sentenced to death after a mock trial,” the N-VA said. “Unfortunately, numerous political initiatives and increased pressure from human rights organisations have not been able to safeguard Ahmadreza Djalali’s life. Yet we have no other option than to send another political signal to Tehran today: let Professor Djalali live.”

All calls have so far landed on deaf ears, which is why the Flemish Parliament has adopted a new resolution. The core of the resolution reads as follows:

The Flemish Parliament continues to strongly oppose the imminent enforcement of Professor Ahmadreza Djalali’s death sentence and demands the immediate and unconditional release of Professor Djalali, unless he is tried again in accordance with international standards, with respect for the rights of the defence.

The Flemish Parliament is asking the Flemish Government to raise this matter urgently with the Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sophie Wilmès, and with the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell.

The Flemish Parliament is not giving up

“Our thoughts go first and foremost to Professor Ahmadreza Djalali’s wife and children,” the N-VA concludes. “They have been going through this hell for years. That is why we are not giving up and, just as in previous years, we will continue to do everything we can to get the professor released. We are therefore calling on all levels to take action without delay.”

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