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Source: AFP

Dec 1, 2023

Germany Defends Iran Policy After Activist Criticism

By AFP - Agence France Presse

Germany on Friday said it had a "very clear" position on Iran after a prominent women's rights campaigner stormed out of a government meeting and accused officials of helping Tehran "silence dissidents".

Iranian-American activist Masih Alinejad, who is known for her criticism of Iran's clerical government and its requirement for women to wear veils, said Thursday she had walked out of a meeting at the German foreign ministry after she was told the talks had to be "kept secret".

"They tried to censor me," Alinejad said in a post on X, formerly Twitter.

"When the ministry officials insisted on keeping the meeting a secret, I walked out," she said.

The German government's reticence and desire to keep the meeting low-key was "helping the Islamic Republic to silence dissidents".

A spokeswoman for the foreign ministry responded that Germany's "stance towards the Iranian regime is very clear and we condemn where it violates human rights".

In particular, Berlin had spoken out in response to the protests last year, triggered by the death in custody of Mahsa Amini, who had been arrested over an alleged breach of strict dress rules for women.

Germany had made it clear there could be "no 'business as usual' in bilateral relations with a regime that uses the most brutal violence against courageous women and other protesters", the spokeswoman said.

Berlin has sanctioned scores of Iranian officials together with EU partners and organised "over 100 humanitarian visas" for particularly threatened Iranian men and women.

The German government's human rights commissioner, Luise Amtsberg, who met with Alinejad, said she "deeply regret that (she) had conditioned a conversation to the publication of the meeting's content and left before we had a chance to talk".

The "confidentiality" of the encounter had been agreed in advance, she wrote on X.

"In my experience, conversations that take place confidentially are more substantive -- especially when it comes to individual cases," Amtsberg said.

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