At a conference in the House of Commons on Thursday, 17 November, chaired by Rt Revd John Pritchard, former Bishop of Oxford, cross party MPs, Lords and British religious leaders expressed their serious concerns over the alarming rate of executions in Iran, including public hangings and execution of juvenile offender and women.
Panellists welcomed the adopted resolution on human rights in Iran by the UN General Assembly’s Third Committee on November 15, applauding remarks by Ambassador Martin Shearman, of the UK Mission to the United Nations, that “It remains crucial that we keep a focus on human rights and continue to hold the Iranian Government to account for its human rights record.”
They also joined the call by nearly 200 MPs and Peers for an international and independent investigation of massacre of political prisoners in Iran in 1988. The call was made in a statement on Iran and an Early Day Motion supported by cross party members of both Houses of Parliament.
In the summer of 1988, based on a fatwa decreed by the Islamic Republic's founder Ayatollah Khomeini, some 30,000 political prisoners were massacred in the space of a few months and buried secretly in mass graves. The officials responsible for the massacre currently hold some of the highest positions in the regime.
Maryam Rajavi, the President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), addressed the conference in a video message.
Panellists concurred with Maryam Rajavi, in condemning the Iranian regime’s restrictions on freedom of expression, assembly and religion, its violent crackdown on popular protests, suppression of women and youths as well as the institutionalised discrimination against religious and ethnic minorities, especially the Christians and Baha’is.
In her remarks to the conference, Mrs Rajavi, said, “The mullahs' regime preserves its power [by these atrocities] … [as] the anti-government protests spread across the country.”
“On the opposite side, our people and Resistance have been advancing in their quest for freedom. A major achievement has been the Justice Seeking Movement launched to demand justice for the 30,000 political prisoners massacred in summer 1988 in Iran”, she added, referring to the mass executions in Iranian prisons in 1988, which Sir Geoffrey Robertson QC, the former UN tribunal chief judge on Sierra Leone, described as one of the worst crimes against humanity since World War II.
“The mullahs for long tried to conceal this horrific crime. The distribution of an audio recording of the remarks made by Mr. Montazeri, the ousted successor to Khomeini, revealed new dimensions of the massacre … If the international community had not remained silent and passive in this regard, letting the criminals evade justice, the wave of executions and repression in Iran could not have continued to date”, she said.
The co-chairman of the British Parliamentary Committee for Iran Freedom, Sir David Amess MP, presented the two initiatives supported by some 200 MPs and Peers.
“The signatories urge the government to recognise and condemn this brutal massacre as a crime against humanity and ask the UN Human Rights Commissioner, Human Rights Council, the General Assembly and the Security Council to order an investigation and bring the perpetrators to justice”, Sir David Amess MP said.
“The statement also recognises the 10-point democratic platform presented by Mrs Maryam Rajavi as the vital road map to abolish death penalty and torture and establish democracy, gender equality and rule of law in a future Iran and urges the government to back the efforts of Iranian people and the NCRI to make this platform a reality in their country”, he added.
The Rt Revd John Pritchard, said, “following the successful relocation of the Iranian refugees in Camp Liberty to safety in Europe, we must now focus on human rights abuses that are taking place in Iran, campaigning to raise awareness and to remind the International Community, and our government, about their responsibility to turn words into action in order to hold the Iranian regime and its senior officials accountable for growing violations. This is particularly important because the Iranian judiciary is today the major obstacle to any improvements of the human rights situation in the country.”
Dr Matthew Offord MPs, said, “The current UK policy on pursing business opportunities in Iran in the post-nuclear deal era risks empowering the Revolutionary Guards, which is the paramilitary arm of the Supreme Leader and the major force in exporting terror out of Iran and suppressing any popular dissent. It also controls close to 70% of Iran’s economy.”
Lord Clarke of Hampstead CBE joined Dr Matthew Offord MP and other panellists in urging “the government to make mending relations with Tehran contingent on concrete and verifiable improvements of human rights, in particular a halt to executions, torture and arbitrary arrests, without which there are no real long term dividends.”
According to the UN and International NGOs like Amnesty International the Iranian authorities carried out over1000 executions last year.
In a report published on 26 January 2016, Amnesty International listed 73 executions of juvenile offenders since 2005 and warned that “at least 160 juvenile offenders are currently on death row” in blatant violation of international law and conventions that prohibits the execution of juveniles.
Other participants include, The Bishop of Stepney, The Rt Revd Adrian Newman; The Bishop of Croydon, The Rt Revd Jonathan Clark SCP; The Bishop of Salisbury, The Rt Revd Nick Holtam; Christina Rees CBE, long-time advocate for women’s ordination in the Church of England and a founder member of the Archbishops’ Council; Bob Blackman MP; Jim Fitzpatrick MP; Lord Judd; Lord Clarke of Hampstead CBE; Prof. Lord Alton of Liverpool; Lord Cotter; Prof. Sara Chandler QC (Hon), Vice President of the European Bars Federation; Linda Lee, former President of the Law Society of England and Wales; Malcolm Fowler, former member of the Human Rights Committee of the Law Society of England and Wales; and Mr Hossein Abedini, from the NCRI Foreign Affairs Committee.
British Parliamentary Committee for Iran Freedom
17 November 2016