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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Open letter of the Campaign STOP THE BOMB on the Iran trips of German members of parliament

Elke Hoff and Members of the German Parliament: Stop your Trips to Iran!

Berlin, 18. November 2010

Ms. Elke Hoff,

Members of the German Parliament,

In July 2010, the EU imposed sanctions against the Islamic Republic of Iran to exert pressure on the Iranian government to stop its illicit nuclear program. This pressure can only be effective if other actions vis-à-vis Iran do not undermine this pressure. But the recent trips to Iran by representatives of all parties of the German Bundestag are doing just that.

While Ruprecht Polenz (CDU) canceled a journey to Iran, which had been scheduled for early July 2010, because of health reasons, Rainer Stinner, foreign policy spokesman of the FDP, traveled to Iran at the end of July, followed by five members of the "subcommittee on foreign culture and education" headed by Peter Gauweiler (CSU).[1] Iran's official media recently announced yet another trip to Iran by Elke Hoff (FDP) for November 20. Her trip reportedly seeks an "expansion of cooperation between the parliaments in Berlin and Tehran."[2]  The German media has not published any news about this upcoming trip, and so far, Elke Hoff's office refuses to provide any information whatsoever. [3]

We are asking you as members of our parliament: Do you support the policy of cooperation with the most vigilant supporter of international terrorism, a regime that denies the Holocaust and wants to destroy Israel? Do you support a regime hated by the Iranian people, a fact that became blatantly obvious during the mass protests after the phony elections in 2009? Does the policy to cooperate with the sham parliament of the theocratic regime represent the political goals of your caucus at the German Bundestag? Do you wish to promote greater cooperation with a parliament in which a "Supreme Leader", who has no democratic legitimacy, but makes all essential decisions? Do you want to enhance cooperation with a "parliament" in which all members are carefully vetted in order to make sure that they are willing to obey the principles of the Islamist dictatorship before they are admitted to run as candidates in any of Iran's tightly controlled "elections"?

The policy of German lawmakers has already caused international disapproval. On November 16, the Wall Street Journal commented: "While the European Parliament recently refused to visit Iran because of the regime's wretched human-rights record, the German legislators saw nothing wrong with schmoozing with the mullahs. […] It appears that for Berlin, promoting its flourishing trade relationship with Tehran and preserving the "historical treasure of the German-Iranian friendship" trump concerns for human rights and nuclear proliferation."[4]

The argument that these trips will help to promote human rights in Iran and will be of help to the Iranian opposition, does not stand up to any critical scrutiny. The political scientist Matthias Küntzel has recently analyzed this in his description of the trip of the Subcommittee on Foreign Culture in all its shameful details.[5] Meetings of German politicians with representatives of the Iranian regime do not help to improve the human rights situation in Iran. On the contrary: Trips like this send a signal to the Iranian regime that Iran does not have to fear serious consequences, that the regime is still being courted as a valuable dialogue partner and Iranian representatives are recognized as the true representative of the Iranian people. In this way the regime is legitimized and encouraged while the freedom movement in Iran are implicitly informed that they are not supported and don't even count. If the German delegation is humiliated by the Iranian regime like the members of the Subcommittee on Foreign Culture[6] and does not take Iranian propaganda at face value but partly adopts the propaganda the result of trips like these can only be described as politically disastrous.[7]

The argument that Iran has common interests with the West in Afghanistan, for example, in the fight against drugs or in the stabilization of the country does not stand up to closer scrutiny either. The main goal of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Afghanistan is to fight Western influence. Iran supports the Taliban with weapons and pays a bounty for each dead Western soldier.[8] The Iranian regime is in no way interested in promoting democracy and human rights in Afghanistan, but aims to move Afghanistan into the sphere of influence of its own "Islamic revolution".[9]

At the economic level, such trips contribute to a situation in which the German-Iranian trade continues to grow. In the first half of 2010, exports to Iran increased by 14%, German imports by even 88%.[10] Two conferences, which will promote German-Iranian trade, will take place next Monday, November 22, in Frankfurt  and Hamburg.[11] Elke Hoff is a board member of the Near and Middle East Association (NUMOV), which openly campaigns against sanctions and instead promotes trade with Iran.[12]

To expand the cooperation with the undemocratic, illegitimate Iranian Parliament in this historic moment in which millions of Iranians call for freedom and democracy and demand a radical transformation of Iran's system of injustice, would be a grave political mistake. It is not possible to improve human rights, regional stability, and security for Israel, pursue a solution to the nuclear crisis and an end to international terrorism and Islamism by cooperating with the current regime and its representatives. Therefore, we urge Ms. Hoff and all other members of the German parliament not to travel to the Islamic Republic of Iran and not to meet with representatives of the regime.

We also call for transparency in Germany's relations with Iran. Relations of the German Bundestag to institutions of the Islamic Republic of Iran must be transparent and must be accessible to public debate. The public has a right to know, which representatives intend to enter into "dialogue" with the Iranian regime and which ones stand for a decisive fight against Islamism.

Yours faithfully, 

Jonathan Weckerle

Michael Spaney

 


[1] Other participants: Monika Grütters (CDU), Peter Gloser (SPD), Lukrezia Jochimsen (Left Party), Claudia Roth (Green Party). The trip took place between 16 and 22 October 2010.

[2] Teheran Times, 14.11.2010, www.tehrantimes.com/Index_view.asp?code=230412 (consulted November 16, 2010)

[3] Last telephone inquiry November 18, 2010

[4] Benjamin Weinthal, Wall Street Journal, November 16, 2010, http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703805004575606291893348542.html

[5] Matthias Küntzel, From "critical" to grovelling dialogue, November 5, 2010, www.matthiaskuentzel.de/contents/vom-kritischen-zum-kriecherischen-dialog (German)

[6] Committee member Lukrezia Jochimsen documented this in her online travel diary, see http://lukrezia-jochimsen.de/tagebuch/10-2010/eine-woche-im-iran-mein-tagebuch-teil-1/

[7] Peter Gauweiler, head of the subcommittee, praised, according to Iranian media, "the peaceful coexistence of different religious minorities in Iran to be unparalleled", "in no other country in the region such a peaceful coexistence can be seen." According to the same media Gauweiler also criticized „negative propaganda in European media against Iran“. http://german.irib.ir/nachrichten/politik/item/116584-gauweiler-wuerdigt-friedliches-zusammenleben-von-anhaengern-verschiedener-religionen-in-iran  (lastly consulted at November 16, 2010) Gauweiler did not deny that he had made these statements in an interview with Spiegel-Online. (Compare interview with Peter Gauweiler, October 21, 2010, www.spiegel.de/politik/ausland/0,1518,724286,00.html). To read more about religious freedom and the situation of minorities in Iran see the report of the anti-racism caucus at the UN (August 27, 2010); on the situation of the Baha’i compare www.bahai.de/artikel/article/un-ausschuss-kritisiert-irans-unterdrueckung-von-minderheiten.html?tx_ttnews[backPid]=43&cHash=7dc28036e1

[8] Tehran pays Taliban for every US casualty, September 5, 2010, www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3949546,00.html

[9] Compare Saba Farzan, How Iran influences Afghanistan, August 8, 2010, Die ZEIT,
http://www.zeit.de/politik/ausland/2010-08/afghanistan-iran-3

[10] German exports to Iran are raising in spite of sanctions, Reuters, August 30, 2010, http://de.reuters.com/article/economicsNews/idDEBEE67T0AD20100830.

[11] For the event in Hamburg compare www.germanglobaltrade.de/middleeastforum/iran/index.php (lastly consulted at November 17, 2010), the event in Frankfurt will (according to information of STOP THE BOMB) be organized by the VDMA.

[12] www.numov.org/content/view/49/55/lang,en_GB/