Monday, December 28, 2009

Compare and contrast

A reader has called my attention to the fact that the EU has not gone completely dormant and the Swedish Presidency (for another three days) has issued a couple of statements about recent events in the Middle East.

One is about the violent suppression of anti-government protests that took place during the Shi'ite Ashura commemorations in Iran. (Curious, is it not that the first Muslim martyr, the Prophet's grandson, Imam Hossein or Husseyn as many prefer to spell it, should have been murdered by other Muslims. But I digress.

Witnesses told RFE/RL that in the course of the Ashura events, security forces shot directly at people and attacked them with batons and tear gas. They described chaos in the streets and blood on the sidewalks, and reported fire and heavy smoke in some parts of Tehran. Instead of religious slogans, protesters chanted against Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, with some calling him a murderer.

One young Iranian man, who spoke to RFE/RL on condition of anonymity, said: "It wasn't a Green Ashura, it was a red Ashura -- a bloody Ashura."

Eight protesters were reported killed as a result of the violence. Among them was 35-year-old Ali Musavi, the nephew of opposition leader Mir Hossein Musavi, who finished second to incumbent President Mahmud Ahmadinejad in the June 12 vote.
Nor did it stop there.

Reports emerged today that authorities were continuing to round up dissenters. After Iranian police said they had detained about 300 people, an opposition website (Parlemannews) claimed today that seven prominent oppositionists were among them, including three aides to Mir Hossein Musavi and prominent human rights activists Emad Baghi and Ebrahim Yazdi, a former foreign minister.
How very different from the Ashura procession I saw along Bayswater Road.

The Presidency has issued a statement about events in Iran in which it described itself as being "concerned at the reports of violent suppression of demonstrations and arbitrary detentions in Tehran and other Iranian cities during the recent Ashura commemorations".

Well, I suppose we are all concerned, though it seems slightly pointless to issue statements that tells us that, further informing the world that the EU and its Presidency are committed to the notions of democracy and human rights.

Luckily there are matters the Presidency feels much more strongly about. This is the statement about the proposed building of apartments in East Jerusalem by Israelis:
The Presidency of the European Union is dismayed at the announcement of the Government of Israel to build nearly 700 apartments in occupied East Jerusalem.

Settlements on occupied land are illegal under international law. The plans by the Israeli Government to expand such settlements contravene repeated calls from the international community, including those of the Quartet, and prevent the creation of an atmosphere conducive to resuming negotiations on a two-state solution. The Presidency of the European Union thus urges the Government of Israel to reconsider these plans.

The Presidency recalls that the European Union has never recognised the annexation of East Jerusalem in 1967. If there is to be a genuine peace, a way must be found through negotiations to resolve the status of Jerusalem as the future capital of two states.
Up with this the EU will not put, though it is not quite clear what they intend to do about it all beyond expressing their dismay, which is, let us face it, stronger than the concern they managed to show towards the bloody suppression of all attempts to introduce some kind of democratic ideas in Iran.

Furthermore, the Swedish Prsidency and the European Union foreign policy makers as a whole, might like to contemplate the fact that it is not the status of Jerusalem that is the central problem in that part of the world but Israel's existence and her right to exist.

No comments:

Post a Comment