Baroness Boothroyd OM: The UK Government now with its huge majority must recognise and back the democratic aspirations of the Iranian people, their organised Resistance movement NCRI, and support Maryam Rajavi’s 10-point democratic platform as the viable alternative to the current religious dictatorship

Cross-party MPs, Peers and prominent jurists support NCRI and Iran Uprisings led by women for regime change, IWD Conference in the House of Commons, 25 February 2020

Cross-party MPs, Peers, prominent jurists and women’s rights activists discussed women’s rights in Iran and the struggle for democratic change at a conference in the House of Commons, on 25 February 2020, on the eve of International Women’s Day (IWD).

The conference was chaired by Kirsty Brimelow QC, former president of the Bar Human Rights Committee and winner of First 100 Years Inspirational woman Barrister of the Year 2018.

“I welcome everybody to this early celebration of IWD but with an emphasis on the situation of women in Iran from various perspectives. I come at this from a legal perspective and my work on Iran is in relation to 1988 massacre and calling for an independent UN set-up inquiry into these mass executions", she said in her opening remarks.

Panellists stressed that women’s situation in Iran is alarming and continues to deteriorate, especially in recent years during the tenure of the so-called moderate president, Hassan Rouhani.

Today, authorities in Iran view women’s rights and their empowerment as a matter of “national security”, speakers noted, and condemned the regime for treating women’s rights activists and defenders as “enemies of the state”.

The prominent role of women and their active participation in the recent protests and the historic movement for freedom, in particular in the organised Resistance movement, the NCRI, against the regime for a democratic change in Iran was also highlighted at the conference.

There is no better candidate to recognise and celebrate on 2020 IWD than the brave women of Iran for leading the recent protests against the religious dictatorship, speakers said.  

Despite the brutal crackdown, they reiterated that the women of Iran are continuing to challenge the regime and its misogynistic laws through civil disobedience and by leading the wave of popular protests that began in late 2017 demanding change with slogans, like “Down with Dictator”, targeting the regime in its entirety.

Former Speaker of the House of Commons, Baroness Boothroyd OM said, “The UK Government now with its huge majority must recognise and back the democratic aspirations of the Iranian people, their organised Resistance movement NCRI, and support Maryam Rajavi’s 10-point democratic platform as the viable alternative to the current religious dictatorship.”

Her call on the UK Government was reiterated by other cross-party speakers.

She added, “our message should simply be that we recognise that the problems in Iran have an Iranian solution and we proudly support it.”

Rt Hon David Jones MP said, “The Iranian nation largely reaffirmed its support for the protest movement by boycotting the regime’s illegitimate parliamentary election last Friday. The nationwide boycott of the election was both a resounding no to the regime in Iran as well as a sign that the movement for democratic change in Iran is very much alive and deserve international recognition.”

“The boycott came following a call by the NCRI President-elect, Mrs Maryam Rajavi, and the activities of the Iranian opposition, the PMOI’s Resistance units all across the country”, he stressed, adding, “Once again, the Iranian nation showed their desire for change and this is a reality that should be recognised by both the UK Government and the International Community.”.

“Despite nationwide protests in November and a violent crackdown by the Iranian regime that resulted in over 1,500 deaths, including 400 women, 5,000 injured and an estimated 20,000 arrested, the EU Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell, went to Tehran to meet with senior officials of the regime and to express the EU’s on-going support for the defunct nuclear deal”, Struan Stevenson, former MEP and the Coordinator of the Campaign for Iran Change said in a speech that criticised the EU for continuing its appeasement policy towards the regime in Iran.

Many of those arrested are women and are subjected to torture and other ill-treatment, according to the latest report of the UN Special Rapporteur on Iran, which is to be presented at the UN Human rights Council meeting next month.

“Now as I have done in this event in previous years, I pay tribute to all the women who have taken part in those political protests across Iran. They are incredibly brave and it is clear that women in Iran are at the forefront of demands for democratic change, and reform and human rights”, Rt Hon Theresa Villiers said.

Baroness Verma, Former Parliamentary Under-Secretary of Department for International Development and Chairwomen of UN Women UK, said, “Maryam Rajavi is an iconic figure for all of us and the Governments and ministers around the world should show the same courage and speak up for women's rights not only in Iran but around the world.”

Prof. Lord Alton of Liverpool said, “Girls as young as 15 or 16 years of age as well as pregnant women were executed in prisons across Iran during the 1988 massacre, which Montazeri described the massacre as the worst crime in the history of the Islamic Republic”, citing revelations by the late Ayatollah Montazeri, the Supreme Leader in-waiting at the time in 2016.

“The UK and its international allies should be seeking at a very minimum a referral to the international criminal court for the perpetrators of the 1988 massacre of 30,000 political prisoners in Iran's prisons, which is so serious that it is considered a crime against humanity. If that it is vetoed and blocked, the UK Government should be helping to establish a regional tribunal to bring those responsible to justice,” Lord Alton added.

Mary Glindon MP thanked the NCRI for working for the progress of women’s rights in Iran and said, “We will continue to support these efforts and the cause of human rights in Iran.”

Speakers agreed that the UK Government should use the 43rd session of the UN Human Rights Council that starts this week to demand the UN Secretary General should immediately dispatch an international fact-finding mission to Iran to investigate the killing of protesters and to visit the Iranian prisons to meet with those arrested in recent protests and political prisoners.

They called on the UK Government to work with international allies in this regard and to pressure the regime for the immediate release of those arrested in recent protests, all political prisoners and dual citizens.

Speakers at the conference included: Jim Shannon MP; Dr Mattew Offord MP; Sir David Amess MP; Martin Vickers MP; Baroness Eaton DBE; Lord Cotter; Dr Jocelynne Scutt, university professor, lawyer, writer and filmmaker; Lady Val Corbett; Margaret Owen OBE, human rights barrister specialising in women’s rights; Naghmeh Rajabi, co-President of the Association of Anglo-Iranian Professionals in the UK; and Laila Jazayeri, President of the Anglo-Iranian Women Association in the UK.

British Committee for Iran Freedom

25 February 2020