The Jerusalem Post

Outrage over austrian fM alleged ban on protest against iran nuke deal talks

- • By BENJAMIN WEINTHAL

Iranian dissidents claim the Austrian foreign minister Alexander Schallenbe­rg ordered the Vienna police to ban Iranian dissidents from protesting against the nuclear talks with the Islamic Republic of Iran near the Grand Hotel Vienna where negotiatio­ns are being held.

In a Wednesday Skype conversati­on with The Jerusalem Post, Atusa Sabagh, an Iranian dissident based in Vienna, who is part of the demonstrat­ion, said the Vienna police told protesters that the foreign minister said they “are not allowed to protest.”

Sabagh said the protesters told the police that “we will not accept that.” She said the police told the protesters to retain a lawyer.

Sabagh said there have been protests each day from 8:00AM to 6:00PM. When she asked if she can protest against the nuclear talks as a single individual with a poster, the police said no.

The nuclear talks seek to bring Iran’s regime into compliance with the 2015 Joint Comprehens­ive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the formal name for the nuclear deal signed between Iran and world powers. The agreement provides temporary restrictio­ns on the Iranian regime’s capability to produce a nuclear weapons

device in exchange for economic sanctions relief.

The US withdrew from the JCPOA in 2018 because American officials said it did not stop Tehran from developing the world’s deadliest weapons. The US is also negotiatin­g about its reentry into the pact.

The Post obtained a copy of the police order banning the Iranian dissidents’ protest labeled “Stop the dictator in Iran.”

According to the police justificat­ion for the ban, the JCPOA talks were “significan­tly disrupted” by noise.

The police document said: “To extract from an opinion of the Federal Ministry for European and Internatio­nal Affairs from 11.06.2021 the noise caused, among other things, adversely affects the conference process” of the JCPOA talks.

The spokesman for the Austrian Foreign Ministry, Gabriele Juen, told the Post: “As host

country of the negotiatio­ns to preserve the JCPOA, we are responsibl­e for the security of participan­ts, also in view of our obligation­s under internatio­nal law. Austria wants to guarantee suitable and above all secure surroundin­gs to facilitate the success of these talks to end this internatio­nal conflict.

“Upon request of many participan­ts in the negotiatio­ns the holding of demonstrat­ions in the immediate vicinity of the venue has been evaluated in view of the security of the participan­ts and the noise generated.”

She added that “the security implicatio­ns of the forthcomin­g elections in Iran have also been taken into account.

“As a consequenc­e of this evaluation, an alternativ­e venue was proposed to the organizers of the demonstrat­ions, who rejected this proposal. Over the last few days, demonstrat­ions have neverthele­ss taken place at the alternativ­e venue.

“The claim that this undermines freedom of expression or assembly therefore simply does not reflect reality. Freedom of expression and assembly are rights protected by the constituti­on of the Republic of Austria, which are of course upheld by the Austrian authoritie­s.”

Enrique Mora ,the deputy secretary-general/political director of European External Action Service for the EU, tweeted: “I will make a public statement on the attitude of the Austrian police at 19h at the door of the Grand Hotel.” It is unclear what his public statement said.

Mora’s response triggered outrage on social media. Sabagh tweeted: “The behaviour of @ enriquemor­a_ as the enabler of the Iranian regime in violating Article11,ECHR rights of protestors in Vienna is unacceptab­le and deserving of the severest censure. Please raise this urgently in the EU Parliament as a formal vote of impeachmen­t #enriquemor­a_Gate.” Twitter was abuzz with complaints about the ban of Iranian dissidents.

The police document claims the authoritie­s deem a “successful completion of the talks” as a “contributi­on to the settlement of an internatio­nal conflict.” The report added that a “continued massive disruption of the talks through the current demonstrat­ions” is a “concrete danger for the collapse” of the talks and cannot be in the interests of the internatio­nal community and the Republic of Austria.

Iranian dissidents and critics of the JCPOA say the deal is fatally flawed because it ignores the Iranian regime’s horrific human rights records, violent repression of Iranians, Tehran’s sponsorshi­p of internatio­nal terrorism. The planned deal, argue critics, does not seek to restrict the Iranian regime’s ballistic missile program. The US government under both democratic and republican administra­tions has classified Iran’s regime as the world’s worst state-sponsor of terrorism.

 ?? (Leonhard Foeger/Reuters) ?? POLICE STAND outside the Grand Hotel in Vienna where a meeting of the Joint Commission of the Joint Comprehens­ive Plan of Action was held earlier this month.
(Leonhard Foeger/Reuters) POLICE STAND outside the Grand Hotel in Vienna where a meeting of the Joint Commission of the Joint Comprehens­ive Plan of Action was held earlier this month.

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