Even though the current Iranian government is a party to the International Convention against the Taking of Hostages, Tehran has long taken foreign hostages as pawns to extract economic concessions and achieve geopolitical and financial gains. Iran's regime appears as if it is attempting to secure the release from Swedish prison of Hamid Nouri, who was found guilty by a Stockholm court of crimes against humanity, including being a key figure in the 1988 massacre of political prisoners in Iran, in which at least 30,000 dissidents were executed. Pictured: People protest against the crimes of Iran's regime outside the Stockholm District Court, during the trial against Hamid Noury, on November 23, 2021. (Photo by Duygu Gertiren/TT News Agency/AFP via Getty Images)
The Iranian regime has lately been taking more European hostages -- the direct result of the EU's appeasement policies to the ruling mullahs of Iran.
The Iranian authorities announced on July 30 that they had arrested another Swedish citizen. The Tehran regime normally detains European citizens on vague security-related charges such as having "suspicious behavior and contacts". Iran's hardline state-controlled newspaper, Kayhan, has also urged the government to take more European hostages.
The rise in hostage-taking of European citizens by Iran's regime should not come as a surprise. Recently the Belgian government proposed and ratified legislation that appears to pave the way to transfer terrorists who have been convicted abroad back to Iran. The so-called treaty between the Belgian government and the Iranian regime is most likely designed to secure the release of Iranian diplomat-terrorist Assadollah Assadi. He was arrested in 2018 for plotting to bomb a huge rally outside Paris that had been organized by the Iranian opposition group, the National Council of Resistance of Iran. Last year, Assadi was convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison by a Belgian court for masterminding the terror plot. Had it been successful, it could well have been the worst terrorist incident in Europe's modern history.
Does Belgium not understand that returning convicted terrorists to Iran will further embolden and empower the mullahs to carry out more terrorist acts on the European soil while they maintain complete impunity? The new concession will also encourage Iran's regime to take even more European citizens as hostages and demand still more concessions from the EU.
Now the regime of Iran, emboldened, appears as if it is attempting to secure the release of another convicted individual, Hamid Nouri.
Nouri was the first former Iranian official tried outside Iran on crimes against humanity. He had been a former interrogator and torturer at Gohardasht Prison in Karaj, west of Tehran. Nouri, was accused of facilitating and even personally carrying out executions at Gohardasht. He was also allegedly involved in the massacre of political prisoners in Iran in 1988, during which at least 30,000 dissidents were executed and secretly buried in mass graves.
The massacre committed by the Iranian regime was a ruthless, bloody and inconceivable butchery of political prisoners. It was indeed a horrible crime against humanity and could, according to the opinion of experts on international human rights law, possibly be termed a genocide. As Geoffrey Robertson, a human rights barrister and first president of the UN's Special Court for Sierra Leone, pointed out:
"It has been a crime to kill prisoners for centuries. The difference is that if it amounts to a particular crime of genocide, there is an international convention that binds countries to take action and punish that genocide... There is no doubt that there is a case for prosecuting [Iranian President Ebrahim] Raisi and others. There has been a crime committed that engages international responsibility. Something must be done about it as has been done against the perpetrators of the Srebrenica massacre."
In May, the Islamic Republic also stated that it would execute another Swedish citizen, Ahmadreza Djalali. As Diana Eltahawy, Amnesty International's Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa, accurately stated:
"The Iranian authorities are using Ahmadreza Djalali's life as a pawn in a cruel political game, escalating their threats to execute him in retaliation for their demands going unmet. The authorities are attempting to pervert the course of justice in Sweden and Belgium, and should be investigated for the crime of hostage taking."
Even though the current Iranian government is a party to the International Convention against the Taking of Hostages, Tehran has long taken foreign hostages as pawns to extract economic concessions and achieve geopolitical and financial gains. The Obama administration, for instance, shipped $400 million in an unmarked plane to Iran for the release of four Iranian-American prisoners.
Appeasing terrorists, as we all know, only incentivizes them. It only breeds more terrorism and hostage-taking; it is an endless, deliciously profitable jobs and extortion program. The EU's policy, which ensures that Iran's ruling mullahs enjoy impunity, is a blow to the victims of the Iranian regime's terrorism and will simply endanger the security and safety of European citizens.
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a business strategist and advisor, Harvard-educated scholar, political scientist, board member of Harvard International Review, and president of the International American Council on the Middle East. He has authored several books on Islam and US Foreign Policy. He can be reached at Dr.Rafizadeh@Post.Harvard.Edu