expresses full support for the protesters and their demand for democratic change; calls for more action by the West
The British Committee for Iran Freedom discussed and exchanged opinions on the uprising in Iran at a meeting in the House of Commons on Tuesday, 18 October 2022 with the online presence of the President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), Mrs Maryam Rajavi.
More than a dozen cross-party members from both the House of Commons and the House of Lords took part in the meeting.
The MPs and Peers expressed strong support for the uprising and praised the bravery of women and the young protesters who are leading the protests across the country.
The uprising in Iran is well into its second month despite a heavy crackdown. It has spread throughout the country with slogans such as “Down with Khamenei [the Supreme Leader]”.
At least 400 protesters, including children, have been killed and more than 20,000 have been detained, according to the network of the Iranian opposition, the People’s Mojahedin Organisation of Iran (PMOI/MEK), inside the country.
The cross-party MPs and Peers praised the role played by the NCRI President-elect, Mrs Maryam Rajavi, and Resistance Units affiliated with the PMOI/MEK in spearheading and setting the stage for the popular uprising.
They welcomed UK’s recent sanctions on the so-called ‘Morality Police’ and senior security and political officials in Iran and stressed that the UK should consider another round of human rights sanctions in response to the shocking violence on protesters. They also reiterated previous calls on the UK Government to proscribe the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in its entirety.
Mrs Rajavi, the special guest of the meeting, underscored that the regime’s suppression and violence have not been able to stop the protests and the wall of fear in society has cracked.
“The central issue of the present uprising in Iran, is that the brave, young women of Iran are leading the way and the world admires their role”, she added. “Iranian women have been deprived of their fundamental freedoms and rights over the past four decades. Nevertheless, they have always been at the forefront of the anti-regime struggle.
Mrs Rajavi reiterated that the Iranian people are chanting in streets that “We are against all oppressors, be it the shah or Khamenei. Regime’s officials have acknowledged that the people oppose the regime in its entirety.
“Iranian women know very well that the freedom of choice - in all personal, social, and political fields including freedom to choose their attire, and the right to political and social participation - is possible only if the mullahs’ religious dictatorship is overthrown.”
She emphasised that the Iranian people demand the closure of regime’s embassies which are centres of espionage and terrorism as well as the expulsion of regime’s agents from Europe.
Baroness Verma, former minister of Energy, Climate Change and International Development, who chaired the meeting said, “Women’s role in protests did not emerge over a night or spontaneously but is rooted in the 40 years of struggle against the misogynous regime.
“The role of women in the democratic opposition, the NCRI and also PMOI/MEK has been a source of inspiration for the Iranian women to follow. Mrs Rajavi’s famous saying ‘We can and We must’.
“The fact that Mrs Rjavi has been able to establish these units of resistance inside Iran despite the suffocating repression and suppression by the regime is truly remarkable and shows on one hand the readiness of the Iranian society for another popular revolution, and on the other hand her leadership qualifications and skills”, Baroness Verma added. “Thus, the UK government and other world leaders must reach out and talk to her and her organised resistance movement about future relationships.”
The Rt Hon Theresa Villiers MP, former Secretary of State for Environment and Northern Ireland referred to her recent urgent question in the House of Commons on this matter and said: “We had the chance to raise these issues on the floor of the House of Commons in the mother of parliaments, and there was strong cross-party support for the protesters and their right to make their voice heard in that debate. I urge the ministers to start to talk to Iranian opposition groups. I repeated my call for the IRGC to be proscribed and I demanded a tough approach on sanctions.”
The Rt Hon Dr Liam Fox MP, the former Defence Secretary said: “I have had friends imprisoned by the regime in Tehran and I have one friend who has never been found who was disappeared by the regime. So, I understand the sacrifices that people are making.
“The problem is not the behaviour of the regime. The problem is the regime and the essence of the regime itself. This is a dangerous thug autocracy underpinned by an extreme theocracy, which is rooted in a medieval mindset and which has no place in the modern world.”
Dr Fox added that the bravery of women in these protests have been amazing, and that the issue is not only women’s rights, but rather basic human rights for the Iranian people in their entirety.
He also stressed that the western world, including the UK, should offer 100 percent of moral support to the protesters and should do whatever it can to disseminate the voice of the protesters.
The former Defence Secretary called for the Iranian regime’s official airline, Iran Air, to be banned from flying into the UK and for the IRGC to be proscribed by the UK government.
Steve McCabe MP, the co-president of the British Committee for Iran Freedom, said: “We have seen protests and demonstrations before, but I think they are much more prolonged on this occasion. The regime is beginning to look like some very tired and battered men up against the new generation. They are losing ground and the people are outmaneuvering regime officials.
“We can offer moral support and we can recognise the rule of the resistance movement of the young women, the young people involved. We must be ready at all times to support the efforts of the Iranian people to secure their own freedom and fair and democratic elections.”
He said sanctions are having an impact and should be extended to the relatives of senior officials of the regime.
The Rt Hon Sir Roger Gale MP added, “We, as a Western democracy, should have the courage to stand up. And be counted for what we believe in.
While addressing Mrs Rajavi, Sir Roger said, “Please believe us when we say we are utterly united in our support for your cause, and we will continue that support for as long as it takes to deliver the freedoms, the democracy that you and your people deserve.”
In his remarks, the Rt Hon the Lord Dholakia OBE DL, who has been supporting the Iranian Resistance movement and the cause of democracy in Iran for over 20 years said he will continue this support until Iran is free.
Other MPs, Peers and Human Rights experts attending the meeting included: Anna Firth MP; the Rt Hon Hilary Benn MP; the Rt Hon Sammy Wilson MP; Jim Shannon MP; Ian Paisley MP; Martyn Day MP; Lord Singh of Wimbledon CBE; Lord Bellingham; the Rt Rev the Lord Harries of Pentregarth DD; Baroness Meacher and Dr Tahar Boundera, former senior UN Official.
British Committee for Iran Freedom
18 October 2022