Speech by Lord Clarke, 11 March
Wednesday, 17 March 2010
A majority of backbench MPs on 11 March 2010 called on the Government to take urgent measures at the United Nations for the world body to protect 3,400 Iranian opposition members based at Camp Ashraf in Iraq. The cross-party MPs were backed in their call by more than 150 Peers. The announcement was made at a press conference in the House of Commons, where MPs and Peers spoke in defence of the PMOI opposition group in Camp Ashraf.
Transcript of speech by Lord Clarke of Hampstead:
What the Iranian people are suffering as we gather in this room today to my mind is both mental and physical torture. We have seen for many years the dreadful pressures and brutality that is going on in Iran.
For many years we in this parliament and colleagues across Europe have pleaded with the British government to start acting honourably and to recognise that human rights must rise above oil interests and the interests of the people who want to perpetuate the misery of the ordinary people in Iran.
The residents of Camp Ashraf are wholly justified in calling out for support from the international community as their legal rights are trampled upon by the Iraqi government. It shames me that my government places vested interests above that of human life, human dignity and the freedom and democracy that so many parts of the world take for granted.
We must continue our calls for the intervention of the United Nations in protecting the Camp Ashraf residents, and as the threats against these unarmed civilians intensify, so must our calls grow louder and ever more forceful.
Robin Corbett has done an incredible job in galvanising this committee into a cohesive force that actually says to the world that you must act to defend the rights of these Iranians. What is going on in is wrong and we have a duty to show our support for the very brave people who everyday of their lives face threats, endure torture and acts of violence as they seek peace and proper democracy, an accountable democracy for themselves and fellow citizens.
Although the Iranian people’s struggle for democracy has been long, we must never give up protesting and demanding that the brutality of the Mullahs ends. The people of Iran are strong and they are brave. The hangings, beatings and the shootings that we learn about almost on a daily basis have not and will not beat the decent people into submission.
Only last week we learnt of the death sentence being passed on a young student for throwing stones. How much more does the world have to know when they read just those two or three sentences? A student sentenced to death for throwing stones. How can any politician, any international statesperson, hold their heads up knowing that this sort of thing is happening and they are remaining silent?
The current British government has been weak in supporting the democratic demands of the Iranian people. We fought all those fights in the courts for the proscription to be removed both here and in Europe, but the government had to be dragged kicking, screaming and struggling. We have spoken to British government officials time and again and it is like pouring water on a duck’s back. They always have an answer and continue to fail to deal with the threat of the Iranian regime.
In fact at one of the most recent meetings we had in the Foreign Office one official sat there unwilling to accept the DVD recording that was put before him of the attack on Camp Ashraf last July. He said “this is biased”. Biased! When you are seeing chains lashing down on people’s heads, when you see people being hit with big clubs of wood and our Foreign Office representative said, but that is biased. What the hell is going on with our country when you hear these sort of utterances from people who do know better and who should know better. Above all this British government should be doing something about these atrocities and not blindly defending these crimes.
Tragically the world seems to ignore the realities in Iran and there are many apologists for the regime as Western leaders speak of appeasement and dialogue. I ask again as I have done on so many occasions: When will they learn that you cannot deal in any meaningful way with these wicked and evil people. I am therefore here to add my voice to the voices that are raised to get our message of support for the people of Iran and the people of Camp Ashraf to our leaders.
I join with all other parliamentarians here in Westminster and all the many people outside of Parliament who say to our government and any future British government, where is your honour, where is your dignity? We cannot have trust in any government that fails to recognise the realities of life in Camp Ashraf and Iran.