On February 19, the Iranian authorities attacked the Gonabadi Sufi protesters in Tehran during their peaceful protest against the detention of one of their members, Nematollah Riahi, 72. Mr Riahi had come to Tehran to help protect the leader of the Gonabadi Sufi Order, Dr. Noor Ali Tabandeh and his home that had been besieged by the Iranian authorities on February 5, 2018. So far, at least 300 arrests have been made, and many more Dervishes are currently imprisoned that have not been officially recorded with no information on the well-being or whereabouts of the detainees for more than a week. There are reports of torture at Evin, Fashafouyeh, and Gharchak prisons, and persecutions and intimidation, invasion of residential houses in the 7th Area of Golestan in Pasdaran Avenue and occasions of public torture of the Sufis on the streets of Tehran.
There are numerous alarming reports that Iranian authorities are systematically persecuting the Dervishes in Iran. In March 2017, the UN special rapporteur for Iran expressed concern over the state targeting of members of Sufi groups, saying they "continue to face arbitrary arrest, harassment, and detention and are often accused of national security crimes." The leader of the Gonabadi Dervishes Dr. Noor Ali Tabandeh, 90, and his followers have received death threats and live in fear of violence. It is ironic that several million Dervishes, of which the Gonabadi order is the most numerous, representing the centuries-long tradition of peaceful meditation and mystical practices, are now considered as potential threat to the existing regime.
Sardar Rahimi, Tehran’s Chief of police has explicitly stated, February 22, 2018, on national TV, the voice of the ruling system in Iran, that he had clearly considered the idea of using heavy-handed tactics such as the use RPG’s (Rocket-Propelled Grenades) against the Sufi’s during the recent protests.
We call on Hassan Rohani, the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran and Sardar Rahimi, Chief of police in Tehran to immediately halt this systematic violence, imprisonments and intimidation against all Sufis in Iran, and more specifically the Gonabadi Sufi Order followers and sympathisers. We call for immediate release of detainees who have been imprisoned because of their beliefs.
We call on the EU´s HR/VP Mogherini to immediately address this issue with the Iranian authorities and call for full respect of human rights and prisoners’ rights, for the right of freedom of religion and belief, the right for freedom of assembly, the right for freedom of thought as set out in international conventions.
Tunne Kelam, MEP, EPP Group
Lars Adaktusson, MEP, EPP Group
Petras Auštrevičius, MEP, ALDE Group
Heinz K. Becker, MEP, EPP Group
Franc Bogovič, MEP, EPP Group
Michal Boni, MEP, EPP Group
Mark Demesmaeker, MEP, ECR Group
Gérard Deprez, MEP, ALDE Group
José Inácio Faria, MEP, EPP Group
Luke Ming Flanagan, MEP, GUE-NGL Group
Ana Maria Gomes, MEP, S&D Group
Maria Grapini, MEP, S&D Group
Gunnar Hökmark, MEP, EPP Group
Anthea McIntyre, MEP, ECR Group
Lukas Mandl, MEP, EPP Group
Ramona Manescu, MEP, EPP Group
Marijana Petir, MEP, EPP Group
Jozo Radoš, MEP, ALDE Group
Petri Sarvamaa, MEP, EPP Group
Branislav Škripek, MEP, ECR Group
Jaromir Štětina, MEP, EPP Group
Bodil Valero, MEP, The Greens/EFA
Jan Zahradil, MEP, ECR Group
Milan Zver, MEP, EPP Group