Netherlands Freezing Ties With Iran Over Woman’s Execution


By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent BosNewsLife




Zahra Bahrami was executed by Iran.
Zahra Bahrami was executed by Iran.


AMSTERDAM/BUDAPEST/TEHRAN (BosNewsLife)-- The Netherlands says it has frozen official contacts with Iran to protest the hanging of a Dutch-Iranian woman and will ask the European Union to take action against the country.

Zahra Bahrami was executed Saturday, January 29, more than a year after she was detained during protests against the re-election of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.  She was held in Tehran's notorious Evin prison, where several Christians have complained of mistreatment, BosNewsLife learned.

Dutch Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal told reporters he was informed by the Iranian ambassador to the Netherlands that Bahrami, 45, was executed Saturday, January 30, in the capital Tehran.

Iranian officials said Bahrami was hanged for possessing and selling drugs. But the woman's daughter was quoted by the New York-based rights group International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran as saying the drug charges were fabricated.

PROTEST ARREST

Human-rights activists point out that Bahrami, who had dual Dutch and Iranian nationality, was detained in Tehran during protests against the re-election of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in December 2009.

Dutch Minister Rosenthal has condemned the hanging of Bahrami.  The execution of Bahrami "is a barbaric act of the Iranian regime," he said. Rosenthal said he is also shocked because the day before the execution Iranian authorities told him "the legal procedures were not yet closed."

The Netherlands, he added, has therefore decided "to freeze all official contacts with Iran," meaning that Iranian embassy diplomats can not have meetings with Dutch officials without prior written approval.

EU ACTION?

Additionally, he the minister said he would ask the Council of Foreign Ministers of the European Union on Monday, January 31, to take actions against Iran.  He said EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton is investigating possible measures against Iran.

The Iranian Embassy in the Netherlands has defended the execution. In a statement, it said Bahrami was a member of an international drug trafficking ring, who traveled on Dutch, Iranian and Spanish passports with different personal information.

It said Bahrami, who was born in Iran but gained Dutch citizenship after moving to the Netherlands, was accorded the legal rights of an Iranian citizen. Tehran does not recognize dual nationality.

Bahrami's Dutch lawyer, Adrie Tilburg, questioned the fairness of the trial. Iran made clear that "two lawyers would be involved in the case, with financial support from the Dutch government.  But now there is the sudden announcement that the death penalty ruling has been carried out," he said.

The European Union, currently chaired by Hungary, has expressed concerns about the many public executions in Iran.

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