Let me get to the point straight away, I want to highlight and condemn unreservedly the recent horrific rise in human rights’ abuses inside Iran. From torture to public executions, the Iranian regime, even by its own brutal standards, has surpassed itself in recent months. At a time when the nuclear weapons programme and sponsored terrorism have taken the headlines, the suffering of the Iranian people has been overlooked. We in the West must not let that happen and must send a clear message to the Iranian Government that such behaviour is absolutely unacceptable and should not be allowed to continue unpunished.
Let me spend a few moments highlighting some of the most recent atrocities. In a recent period of less than 30 days, some 31 executions were carried out and 8 women were awaiting execution by stoning. And in Gohardasht prison alone, some 612 individuals were in death row.
Now you might think that litany of horrors couldn’t be surpassed but you would be wrong. Iran remains the only country in the world that continues to execute children and International human rights organizations have indicated a short time ago that 71 minors were incarcerated under the sentence of death.
These statistics are a frightening indictment of President Ahmedinijad’s regime. But the question we must ask is why that regime is committing such violence against its own people and why that violence is being committed in the public gaze. In fact they seem almost proud of the human carcases hanging from cranes across Tehran.
The record of Human Rights abuses has shamed a once proud nation for the past 27 years but most of those abuses were previously carried out behind closed doors. Sadly executions have now become a public spectacle, with the obvious motive of installing fear and trepidation in the minds of the people in an attempt to crush dissent and diminish opposition. Yet many Iranians refuse to be cowed and publicly demonstrate their abhorrence of the system by continually call for both freedom and democracy.
Over 5000 demonstrations have been organised during the past year, by trade unions, by student bodies and by women’s groups. Tragically the carcasses of some of the leaders of those demonstrations are now on public display on the streets of Iran and are labelled hooligans who have threatened the Islamic state. But we should never forget that the group that has suffered most at the hands of this wicked regime has been the People’s Mohejadin Organisation of Iran and over a hundred and twenty thousand of its members and supporters have made the supreme sacrifice over the past 27 years.
Iran has recently been called to account by the UN Security Council for its illegal nuclear weapons programme. Surely it is now time for the UN to call that self same country to account for its human rights record. Surely the UN should levy serious and binding sanctions to counter such abuses. Canada has consistently taken the lead in these matters and continued to do so only a couple of weeks ago in Geneva when the Iranian regime was condemned by the Human Rights Council of the UN and we should all call upon our Government to join Canada and the other members of the international community who have consistently condemned such brutality.
The lack of such condemnation from the UK government has been shameful and clearly devolves from a misplaced policy of appeasement. And sadly we now see that policy being repaid by Iranian supported militia running riot in Iraq and their weapons and their bombs and their state sponsored training has caused the deaths of hundreds of British and US soldiers, not to mention thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians. Surely any sensible Government would recognise the futility of pursuing such a policy and we demand that our Government ends that policy once and for all.
Sadly many are not aware that the Government proscribed the PMOI, the leading Iranian opponents of the regime in exile, as an integral part of that policy, with the consequence that a democratic organisation, committed to non-violent opposition to the Mullahs regime, has been denied the opportunity to freely operate in this country and throughout Europe. Many within the British Parliament have battled hard for the removal of that proscription and have lobbied Government leaders consistently on the matter. Supporters of the PMOI appealed to the European Court of First Instance, which decided in December of last year, that the proscription was illegal and should therefore be overturned. Amazingly the British Government refused to accept that judgment. Following that refusal 35 MPs and members of the Lords from all parties appealed against that listing to the British Appeal courts and I am proud to be one of that group. Indeed we are hopeful that the court of appeal will very soon provide us with a favourable outcome. But surely it would be better for the British government to withdraw this shameful proscription now before it is forced to do so by a court of the land.
I and others in Westminster have repeatedly called upon the British government to take the lead in sending a clear message to the Iranian regime, that we, as a nation with a proud history of supporting democracy throughout the world, stand behind those Iranians dedicated to a free and democratic Iran. But they have consistently refused to do so. We have argued that the first step should be the immediate removal of the PMOI from the list of terrorist organisations but they have refused to act. The PMOI, whose sole aim has always been the creation of a democratic and free Iran must be supported by a democratic and free Britain and the removal of the proscription would remove some of the shame of attempting to oppress the PMOI in order to curry favour with the tyrants of Tehran.
The support of those democratic aspirations must however be coupled with a firm stance against the Iranian regime, a firm stance against human rights abuses, a firm stance against state supported terrorism and a firm stance against an illegal nuclear weapons programme.
But let me end with this thought.
President Ahmedinejad is a supporter of the cult of the coming of the secret Iman, which first requires the cleansing of the World by Armageddon.
Secondly Iran could, within a couple of years be in possession of Nuclear weapons.
Now, I am not saying those two facts are linked but can we afford to take that chance.
What greater role could Ahmedinejad play from his own perspective than to be the harbinger of that Second Coming? Can we really reject that possibility.
What greater role could he see for himself than to be the creator of an Islamic world centred on Tehran? Can we be certain that is not how he sees it.
What greater satisfaction could he have than to believe he will stand foremost among the martyrs in the afterlife?
The trouble is he could take many of us with him and I am not prepared to allow that to happen and nor should the British Government.