LETTER: Belgium Treaty With Iran Will Encourage Hostage Taking

11 July 2022

The Belgium treaty with the Islamic regime in Iran for prisoner-swap is colluding with, legitimising, and encouraging hostage-taking by a terrorist regime!

EU governments and parliaments, including Belgium, must stop ratifying policies and agreements to legitimise state-sponsored hostage-taking and terrorism by the Islamic regime.

Tens of foreign and dual nationals, including citizens of Belgium, have been detained, tortured, and imprisoned by the Islamic regime in Iran. They have been arrested solely to be used as bargaining chips in the Islamic regime’s negotiations with the EU governments. While these prisoners are kept as hostages, the Foreign Relations Committee of the Belgian government shamelessly gave the initial approval to the treaty of prisoner-swap with the Islamic regime on 6th July 2022. The treaty is due to be voted on by the members of the Belgian parliament on 14th July 2022. This treaty is setting an alarming and dangerous precedent for other EU governments to do the same and release dangerous terrorists and perpetrators trained and sent by the Islamic regime and its IRGC (Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps). We urge the Belgium parliament not to approve the prisoner-swap treaty.

The Islamic regime has been pressuring the Belgian government to release Assadollah Assadi and the Belgian government has succumbed to the pressure. Asadi is the regime’s diplomat who was sentenced to 20 years in prison in a Belgian court in 2021 for a foiled 2018 bomb plot. He is currently in prison in Belgium. This treaty is paving the way to release Asadi and other members of the Islamic regime’s terrorism squad, who planned and carried out kidnapping and terrorism outside Iran as well as those who committed crimes against humanity in Iran such as  Hamid Nouri who is currently in prison in Sweden awaiting sentencing.

The prisoner swap treaty between Belgium and the Islamic regime is claimed to help release jailed foreign and dual-nationals in Iran. This is an untrue and bogus claim. All jailed foreign and dual nationals were held in prison in Iran as hostages, including the Belgian aid worker

Olivier Vandecasteele, Swedish-Iranian academic Ahmadreza Djalali, French trade unionists Cécile Kohler and Jacques Paris, British-Iranians Mehran Raoof and Morad Tahbaz, German- Iranians Nahid Taghavi and Jamshid Sharmahd, must be freed immediately. However, this

can only be achieved by pressuring the Islamic regime. This treaty facilitates and enables further terrorist attacks, spying on dissidents, and hostage-taking by the agents of the Islamic regime, knowing they will be released, if caught. The regime has learned that holding foreigners and dual nationals as hostages could increase its political leverage against the West. In 2020, the regime released the British-Australian academic, Kylie Moore-Gilbert, in a ’prisoner swap’ in exchange for three of the regime’s terrorists in Thailand, two of whom had been convicted in connection with the 2012 Bangkok bomb plot. In 2021, two Jailed British–Iranian, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Anoosheh Ashoori were released in exchange for £400 million.

The regime has been and will continue to take hostages and the only way to stop them is by not complying with their demands, breaking political ties, and internationally boycotting the regime. A dictator regime must be pressured and boycotted, instead of being legitimised by states such as Belgium.

The Islamic regime is in a serious crisis inside and outside Iran. As a result, it is trying to survive by assassinating members of opposition groups, kidnapping foreign and dual nationals, and spying on dissidents inside and outside Iran as well as creating and supporting terrorist groups in Iran’s neighbouring countries. Inside Iran, the IRGC and other institutions are suppressing Iranians and using any opportunity to harass, detain, torture, and execute protestors. Hundreds of rights activists including teachers, workers, artists, lawyers, women’s rights activists, LGBTQ, ethnic and religious minorities, students, and farmers, who protest to demand their basic rights, have been harassed and abused daily, arrested, tortured, imprisoned and some have even been executed. The rate of executions in Iran has more than doubled in the first half of 2022. This is the kind of terrorist regime the Belgian government wants to succumb to by wishing to sign a prison-swap treaty.

Despite all the suppression and brutalities by the Islamic regime in Iran, people in Iran have continued their daily protests against the regime. The prisoner-swap treaty between Belgium and the Islamic regime only legitimises and facilities further terrorist activities and hostage-taking by the Islamic regime. This treaty is a slap on the face of millions of Iranian who have been arrested, tortured, imprisoned, and executed for protesting or even attempting to express their views and to show their opposition to the Islamic regime.

The hostage-taking of the Islamic regime must be stopped and the EU governments can do this. The EU governments and their heads of state can do this by applying collective and international pressure on the regime, breaking political ties, and prioritising the release of dual nationals. The EU government must prioritise human rights instead of prioritising their own economic and or political gains, agreements, and ties with the Islamic regime. The prisoner-swap treaty of Belgium can only legitimise and increases the hostage-taking and terrorism by the Islamic regime. You must condemn this deal and put pressure on the Belgian government to not ratify such a shameless treaty.

Campaign to Free Political Prisoners in Iran (CFPPI)
International Committee Against Executions (ICAE)
Free Them Now! Campaign to Free Jailed Workers in Iran

For more information, please contact:

Shiva Mahboubi

Hasan Salehi

Shahla Daneshfar