By Manel Msalmi, European Parliament Strasbourg

December 12th 2023, representatives from the “Women, Life, Freedom” movement were present in the European Parliament in Strasbourg to get Sakharov prize 2023, the European prize of freedom of thought. The prize was awarded by the president of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola with the presence of members of the European Parliament, EU high Representative Joseph Borrell and human rights organizations. We had the opportunity to interview Mrs Afsoon Najafi on behalf of the “women, Life, Freedom”  movement. I asked Mrs Najafi about the different discrimination that non-Persian populations mainly women witness including Azeris, Baluchis, Arabs, Turks and Kurds especially after the death of Mahsa Amini who is from a Kurdish background. Mrs Najafi pointed out that the regime has always used the “divide and rule” principle by promoting racist jokes between the different ethnic groups in Iran but the country witnessed a strong solidarity between the different religious and ethnic populations. All the the civil society organizations  and representatives from different ethnic, cultural, religious and linguistic groups in Iran were present on the funeral of Mahsa Amini and were Sharing the pain and the suffering of the family and all the Kurdish community in iran.

A journalist asked Mrs Najafi if they are afraid to be accused to be agents of the west mainly the EU, US or Israel and what Raisi is saying regarding the revolution and she responded by saying that the Iranian population is not afraid and they are very conscious of the propaganda of the regime. On the contrary, what Raisi says has no importance since the president is not viewed by the Iranian population as a brilliant leader. He tries only to brainwash the population and influence the international community by hiding his incompetence in dealing with the problems inside Iran for the last 44 years.

Regarding the role of the EU and how it can help the Iranian population to face the oppression of the regime, Mrs Najafi answered by mentioning the importance of having an EU common strategy and policy regarding the human rights violations of the regime. It is true that some European countries supported the Iranian revolution but others were not outspoken about it. It is also important to stop arming and selling arms to the Iranian regime which might be used against the population itself in order to put pressure and it is used as a tool of repression against dissidents and peaceful demonstrators. The main question remains how this young generation of Iranians manage to continue the fight despite the arbitrary arrestations, the torture and the killings of innocent civilians. Mrs Najafi highlighted that the Iranian youth estimated that they have nothing to lose and that they have to stand up for their rights and freedoms and for a better future for their country and for the generations to come.

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