Rutte promises to keep pressure on Tehran on behalf of Iranian-Dutch community
The Netherlands will continue to increase pressure on Iran as long as the regime there hardly suppresses protesters. Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra made the Cabinet’s stance clear in a conversation with Iranian Dutch people in the Torentje, where the prime minister’s office is located.
Rutte said afterwards that the Cabinet will continue to consult with the Iranian-Dutch. "We listened very carefully to their experiences." The prime minister stated that he had explained what the Cabinet is doing and will maintain "close contact" with the Iranian-Dutch people.
According to the prime minister, they came up with "many practical ideas" about what else can be done to stand opposed to the Iranian regime. Their suggestions will be considered and debated within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the coming days, he promised. But Rutte also made it clear that he could not meet all of their wishes.
The Cabinet will not consider expelling the Iranian ambassador from the country. That is "very unwise," Rutte said. The government wants to be able to make its concerns clear to the Iranian government at all times. The Netherlands also wants to keep its ambassador in Tehran as "eyes and ears” there.
The Netherlands is in favor of tightening sanctions against Iran. According to Rutte, there is also support for this in the European Union. The EU has already announced three packages of sanctions against Iran. It is also looking to place the country’s Revolutionary Guards on the EU terror list, although that is “legally complicated.”
The punitive measures have not led the regime to change its course. Broad economic sanctions are not possible under the current arrangements of the Iran nuclear deal. Moreover, the trade flow between Iran and the EU is limited and the effect would therefore also be limited, according to the government.
Iranians have been taking to the streets for months to demonstrate for more freedom in the strict Islamic country. The protests were triggered by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini at a police station when she was accused of improperly following the country’s dress code for women. More than 18,000 people have been arrested, and some of them executed, in protests started by women.
Bijan Moshaver, an Iranian-Dutch person who has lived in the Netherlands for forty years, said he was positive about the conversation with Rutte and Hoekstra. "We have shared our wishes and concerns with the Cabinet." He hopes that more concrete results can be achieved in follow-up talks.
Moshaver said he thinks there should be more sanctions and more protection for the Iranian-Dutch. They are being threatened and intimidated. Family members in Iran are also being put under pressure.
Minister Hoekstra announced last year that he wanted to take tougher action against countries that harass their current and former citizens in the Netherlands. There will soon be a hotline to report the intimidation.
Reporting by ANP