Statement: Collective warning from Iranian social and political activists

The Belgian government should not give a green light to the Iranian regime for terrorist acts.

By approving the bill on the extradition of criminals between Iran and Belgium, the Belgian parliament is attempting to provide the legal tools to send Iranian criminals who have been convicted in the Belgian judicial system to Iran to continue their sentence. The danger of passing such a bill is not only the return of convicts who have been arrested and sentenced for terrorist acts in Europe, but in addition submitting to the Iranian government's policy of kidnapping and hostage-taking of European citizens and making political-economic bargains over them.

Among the concerns that will arise in response to the approval of this bill is the extradition of Asadullah Asadi, the diplomat of the Iranian Embassy in Austria, who was arrested in July 2017 on the charge of planning and plotting a bombing in France and sentenced to 20 years in prison at the court in Antwerp — along with three other defendants (Mehrdad Arifani, Amir Saadouni and Nasima Noami).

Even though Georges-Henri Boutier, one of the lawyers in the Asadi case, previously cited a written guarantee and said that "the Belgian government will not discuss the exchange of prisoners", it has become clear that in recent times that some European governments are not only shifting away from human values and achievements of their societies — they are also ready to present such bills that show political concealment, and endanger the security of their country, respectful citizens and others for the sake of political and economic interests in the expense of human rights.

We, as a group of Iranian social and political activists, warn the parliament and the Belgium government that the extradition of a person convicted of a terrorist act is giving the Iranian government a green light to continue this process of hostage-taking, kidnapping and assassination and normalising this clear abuse of human rights.

If this bill is passed, for any future threats that the Iranian government makes against the western societies’ citizens the name of Belgium will be mentioned to the Iranian regime and used as an example.

It is naive for Belgian politicians to think that the target of these terrorist acts are only Iranian citizens living in Europe who oppose the Iranian regime; terrorism has no political and geographical boundaries, and making a deal to extradite a convicted terrorist is ignoring the dangers of terrorism in the future.

Shirin Ebadi, Nobel Peace Laureate