Brende is expected to bring up the death penalty with Iran

Iran's foreign minister, Mohamad Javad Zarif and Foreign Minister Børge Brende.Oslo (2016-06-13) .Iran's foreign minister, Mohamad Javad Zarif and Foreign Minister Børge Brende.Photo: Håkon Mosvold Larsen / NTB scanpix

Human rights and the death penalty are among the topics to be brought up when Foreign Minister Brende travels to Iran on Wednesday. The visit will take place two weeks after one of the largest mass executions in the country for several years.

The international reactions have been strong after 20 Sunni prisoners were hung in early August. They were found guilty of being behind several terrorist attacks in the Kurdish regions.

A few days afterwards, it was confirmed that a nuclear scientist who had given the US information on Iran’s nuclear program, was also executed.

Human Rights Watch has called the executions a “shameful low point.” The EU and the United States have in recent days placed additional pressure on the country to respect human rights.

It is expected that Foreign Minister Brende will once again raise questions about capital punishment when he visits the country. The topic was also on the agenda when Brende’s Iranian colleague Javad Zarif visited Norway in June.

– Important to show respect

Iran’s expert and religion researcher Kari Vogt from the University of Oslo believes Brende must try, but that Norway has limited possibilities to influence Iran.

The message must be articulated properly, she maintained.

– It is important to express views in a manner that shows respect for Iran, Vogt said.

– Iran is a proud nation that does not like to be corrected – often on a premises which they believe expresses a Western double standard, she said.

Vogt points out that Zarif actually came with something that can be called a concession during his visit to Oslo. In a post at the research institute PRIO where he defended Iran’s human rights policy, he mentioned that the country could continue to work on human rights issues.

– There was a cautious admission, but it was however an admission, says Vogt.

Source: NTB scanpix / Norway Today