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By Emadeddin Baghi
An Open Letter to President Hollande on the Geneva Talks

One of Iran most respected activists Emadeddin Baghi writes to Hollande, criticising him for Paris stance in talks.

21 November 2013

Dear President Hollande,

As a human rights activist and researcher that has long cooperated with some of your country’s non-governmental human rights institutions, I write to express my surprise and dismay at your government’s recent position at the talks between the P5+1 and Iran. France reportedly took a more hardline position than all other countries at the talks, including even the United States. In my capacity as a human rights activist I would like to urge you to reconsider your government’s decision to prevent the initiation of a first step in the world’s process of building confidence in the peacefulness of Iran’s nuclear program and the eventual ending of economic, technical, and scientific sanctions against Iran.

You may not see a direct connection between these nuclear talks and the concerns of a human rights activist, but from my viewpoint and the point of view of many other activists in Iran, the continuation and extension of sanctions are causing the most egregious violations of human and citizens rights in Iran. As a human rights activist who is pained by having to witness numerous executions and human rights violations in Iran and spends his days and nights trying to change the situation – paying heavy costs and facing tremendous economic and political pressure – I along with other Iranian activists surely understand better than anyone else the need for substantive reform in my country. This awareness including the knowledge that Iran is not the only country that should engage in serious reform in its internal affairs and international relations and many other countries, in the region and the world, including in the West, should also undertake reform. But my main message to you is that improvements in human rights cannot be achieved when attempts are being made to paralyze and destroy the country’s economy and impoverish the Iranian people. Surely you must agree that encouraging a government that is interested in dialogue and reconciliation to continue this course will also have much better results for human rights than forcing the increased isolation of that country.

In the 2013 presidential election the people of Iran made clear that despite all their trials and difficulties they preferred the path of moderation and gradual reform, rejecting both domestic forces pushing Iran towards extremism and external players keen on radical regime change. Your government’s decision to block the conciliatory efforts of the new Iranian government is not only a rejection of the popular will in Iran but will also unwillingly smooth the path for the unwritten alliance of extremist and authoritarian forces inside Iran and external radical forces bent on destabilizing the country. It makes the task of Iran’s human rights activists even harder.

As a very proud recipient of the French National Consultative Commission on Human Rights Award (2005), I urge you to ignore the voices of extremism that are plaguing the Middle East region and give due attention to the very important changes that the recent election in Iran has wrought. The people of Iran have always deemed France in a positive light. This goodwill should not be sacrificed for the benefit of extremists.

Sincerely yours,

Emadeddin Baghi
November 20, 2013