At a conference in the House of Commons on Thursday, June 30, UK policy toward Iran was discussed by a panel consisting of experts on Iranian affairs and parliamentarians from both Houses of Parliament and each major political party.

The parliamentarians expressed their concern over recent increases in the number of executions in Iran and the use of barbaric punishments such as flogging and amputations by Iranian authorities.

They called attention to the deteriorating human rights situation in the country since last year's nuclear deal, including arbitrary arrest of youths, women, activists, human rights defenders, dissidents and dual citizens. These arrests have often been justified under bogus charges like undermining “national security” or “Mohareb (enmity towards God)“.

Speakers pointed out that the intensified crackdown on civil society, as tragic and appalling as it is, is a sign of weakening of the theocratic regime. They suggested that it indicates the regime has no other answer to the legitimate democratic aspiration of the Iranian people or the increasing levels of popular dissent.

They also described Tehran's continued support for terrorism and its destabilising role in the region, with unabated support for the Assad regime, as an extension to the domestic repression aimed at preserving the theocratic rulers’ grip on power in Iran.

Highlighting these realities in his speech Dr. Matthew Offord MP said: “Daily reports of appalling abuses by the authorities in Iran show that neither Rouhani, dubbed a ‘moderate,’ nor other theocratic rulers in the country are interested in concrete and genuine changes that address the actual concerns of the Iranian people, in particular the youth and women that represent a majority of the population.

Rt Hon. David Jones MP

The Rt. Hon. David Jones MP presented an initiative supported by nearly 400 members of all major parties in both Houses of Parliament. The initiative urges the UK government to adopt a firm policy towards Tehran. It laid out the following recommendations as the base of such policy:

1. Strongly condemning human rights violations and demanding a halt to executions.

2. Requiring Iran to remove its Revolutionary Guards and mercenary forces from other countries, especially Syria and Iraq.

3. Guaranteeing the safety and protection of Iranian dissident exiles residing at Camp Liberty until they all depart from Iraq and reach supporting host countries, especially Albania.

4. Calling on the EU, US and world leaders to support the 10 point plan for the future of Iran, presented by the Iranian opposition leader, Maryam Rajavi, which emphasises the establishment of a secular democratic republic, free elections, gender equality in all fields, prohibition of discrimination, abolition of the death penalty, and peace and coexistence in the region and the world.

Mr Jones MP also announced the formation of a new All-Party Parliamentary Group for a Free and Democratic Iran (APPG-FDI) as a first step to advance these recommendations and promote the cause of human rights and democracy in Iran that recognise the crucial role played by Iran's democratic opposition coalition, the NCRI.

In her message to the conference, the President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), thanked the MPs and Peers for their initiative and support and said, the Supreme Leader “Khamenei and other leaders of the regime have acknowledged that if they do not fight in Syria, in Iraq and in Yemen, their power base in Tehran would be undermined. This explains why Iran's ruling regime has turned into the main source of instability in the region … Because the mullahs’ warmongering in the region is contrary to the highest interests of the Iranian people, prevents Iranian Resistance from establishing freedom and democracy in Iran, and has also destroyed the Iranian economy.

Struan Stevenson, a former MEP who chaired the Friends of a Free Iran intergroup (caucus) in the European Parliament for over 10 years, added: “Iran cannot be part of the solution to the conflicts raging in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Libya. It is part of the problem. Iran exports terror. Rouhani’s government, under the ultimate control of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, condones torture and arbitrary imprisonment, discriminates against women and encourages public floggings, eye-gouging, amputations and hanging as a means of terrorizing its own population into docile submission.

The West should be entering into dialogue with the political coalition that is the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), rather than pussyfooting around with the mullahs in Tehran,” Stevenson continued. “The NCRI under the inspiring leadership of Mrs Maryam Rajavi, offers the best possible hope for peace and stability in the region.

The MPs and Peers announced their support for the Iranian Resistance’s annual “Free Iran” gathering in Paris that will be held on 9 July. A large cross-party delegation of MPs and members of the House of Lords plan to attend the rally.

Hossein Abedini from the NCRI Foreign Affairs Committee congratulated the MPs for the important initiative in supporting Iran's Resistance movement (the NCRI), and 10-point plan of Mrs Maryam Rajavi as well as the formation of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for a free and democratic Iran. He also expressed “deep appreciation to over 400 members of the UK Parliament for standing with millions of Iranians in their efforts to establish human rights, rule of law and democracy in Iran”.

Other speakers at the conference included, Mark Williams MP; Steve McCabe MP; Bob Blackman MP; Lord Clarke of Hampstead CBE; Lord Alton of Liverpool; Lord Cotter; Professor Sara Chandler, Vice President of European Bars Federation and member of the Law Society; Mr Masoud Zabeti, president of the Committee of Anglo-Iranian lawyers; Ms Naghmeh Rajabi, Representative of the Anglo-Iranian Youth and Women Society.

British Parliamentary Committee for Iran Freedom (BPCIF)

30 June 2016