human-rights 16 July 2021

EU parliamentarians call for sanctions response to human rights abuses in Iran, Hong Kong and Saudi

Members of the Parliament of the European Union (‘MEPs’) have called out specific human rights abuses in Iran, Hong Kong and Saudi Arabia, and demanded that the EU institutions and individual Member States take strong action.

With regard to Hong Kong, the MEPs said they condemned ‘the recent forced closure of the Apple Daily newspaper in Hong Kong, the continued freezing of its assets and the arrests of its journalists.’

They also called on the Hong Kong authorities ‘to stop harassing and intimidating journalists, release arbitrarily detained prisoners,’ and ‘denounce any attempts to muzzle pro-democracy activists and their activities.’ They said that while urging the Chinese authorities ‘to repeal the draconian national security law introduced last year,’ they ‘encourage EU countries to impose sanctions against individuals and entities responsible for serious violations of human rights and international law in Hong Kong under the EU human rights sanctions regime’, and called on the EU institutions and countries to ‘decline invitations to government representatives and diplomats to attend the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics unless the Chinese Government demonstrates a verifiable improvement in the human rights situation in Hong Kong, the Xinjiang Uyghur Region, Tibet, Inner Mongolia and elsewhere in China.’

The MEPS also condemned the recent execution, in Saudi Arabia, of Mustafa Hashem al-Darwish ‘for crimes that may have occurred while he was a minor following his conviction in an unfair trial and involving a confession obtained from him under torture,’ and called on Saudi Arabia ‘to confirm that all other child offenders in the Kingdom, such as death-row inmate Abdullah al-Howaiti, will not be executed and that “confessions” extracted under torture will be excluded from their cases.’

The resolution endorsed ‘EU sanctions against Saudi officials responsible for grave human rights violations’ and proposed that EU exports of mass surveillance technology and other dual-use items to Saudi Arabia should be suspended.

The MEPs also called on Iran ‘to halt the imminent execution of Swedish-Iranian academic Dr Ahmadreza Djalali,’ who, they said, ‘must be pardoned, released immediately and unconditionally, and be allowed to return to his family in Sweden’, and called on Iran ‘to stop threatening Dr Djalali’s family in both Sweden and Iran’ while demanding that charges against other ‘arbitrarily detained’ EU nationals should be dropped, ‘in addition to UK nationals Morad Tahbaz, Anoosheh Ashoori, Mehran Raoof and Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.’