The European Union, the United States and international organizations have long expressed outrage and alarm at Iran’s high rate of executions and lack of due process in death-penalty convictions. The volume of these protestations duly rose in recent weeks along with the spike in deaths.
But the events of Jan. 29 in the north-central Iranian city of Semnan may finally shock the EU into doing more than fruitlessly lecturing the regime on respect for human rights. One of the victims of executions there has not only a face and a name, but a Dutch passport.
Without notifying even her family in advance, Iran hanged 45-year-old Zahra Bahrami, a citizen of both Iran and the Netherlands, for what it said was drug possession. Bahrami had been arrested in the sweeps of anti-government demonstrations following contested presidential elections in 2009. Her family vehemently denied the drugs charges. Dutch diplomats were not allowed to visit her as Iran does not recognize dual nationality.
The Dutch government was outraged, as were many Dutch citizens and lawmakers, who also questioned whether their government had done enough to try to rescue Bahrami. That remains under debate in The Hague, but post-execution actions were swift and furious. Diplomatic relations were immediately frozen. Dutch Ambassador to Iran Cees Kole was called home and the parliament has voted to try to sue Iran in the International Court of Justice for both blocking diplomatic visits and, if deemed possible, for the spree of executions.