29 October 2012
Three members of Germany's parliament, the Bundestag, have arrived in Iran for a controversial week-long visit which they claim serves to address human rights violations. "For us it is important to make our position very clear once again, especially in regard to the striking human rights abuses in Iran," the head of the delegation Bijan Djir-Sarai, an Iranian-born member of the German pro-business Free Democratic Party (FDP), told the ‘Associated Press’ news agency. Djir-Sarai is being accompanied by Thomas Feist, a lawmaker of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU), Angelika Graf of the opposition Social Democrats (SPD). Green Party deputy Kerstin Müller reportedly cancelled her participation at the last moment.
The German politicians have outraged Jewish groups by agreeing to meet the head of the Iranian human-rights council, Mohammad Javad Larijani, a well-known Holocaust denier who in the past called for Israel's destruction.
The president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany Dieter Graumann described the trip as “a brazen piece of being on the wrong political and moral way, that of all things to visit a regime that continues to build its nuclear program and threatens the destruction of Israel and continues to deny the Holocaust,” according to the ‘Jerusalem Post’. One critic said the three Germans - who are also due to meet with the German-Iranian chamber of commerce - were using statements on human rights as a cover for advancing economic ties between the two countries.
EU delegation trip to Iran canceled
Last week, a planned visit by a delegation of members of the European Parliament to Iran was canceled at the last minute. The decision came after the EU assembly awarded its annual Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought to the jailed Iranian human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh and the filmmaker Jafar Panahi and made it clear that the delegation wanted to meet the two activists, a request which was swiftly denied by the Iranian authorities. “After hearing the new conditions, the Iranians decided to cancel [the visit],” European Parliament spokeswoman Satu Helin told the news agency ‘Reuters’.
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