The focus on Thursday’s parliamentary debate at the House of Commons was on condemning the Iranian regime’s increased executions and violent repression of protesters. The parliamentarians also expressed support for the Iranian people’s quest for freedom and democracy.
The motion passed during the debate emphasised the urgent need to protect the rights of the members of the principal opposition group, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), residing in Ashraf 3, Albania. The debate called for the proscription of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) for its violent crackdown on protesters and its destabilising activities in the Middle East. Several cross-party Members of Parliament, including Bob Blackman, Anna Firth, Jim Shannon, Wayne David, Holly Lynch, and myself, stressed the importance of the UK government’s stronger approach to promoting freedom and democracy in Iran.
Protecting the rights of Iranian people
Thursday’s debate was unique in that speakers from different parties shared a common approach regarding the key issues surrounding Iran. They emphasised the need for concrete actions to support the democratic aspirations of the Iranian people, moving beyond mere verbal condemnation or imposing additional sanctions on individuals within the IRGC.
During the debate, Bob Blackman, who initiated the discussion, underscored the vital need to protect the rights of MEK residents in Ashraf 3, Albania, under the 1951 Geneva Refugee Convention, the European Convention on Human Rights, and international law. The MEK, as the principal Iranian opposition group, has long been targeted by the Iranian regime. The UK Parliament demonstrates an unwavering commitment to human rights and the democratic aspirations of the Iranian people by acknowledging the ongoing threats and attacks faced by MEK residents, ensuring their safety and well-being, and advocating for their protection.
Proscribing the IRGC as a terrorist organisation
In my remarks, I joined the chorus calling for the proscription of the IRGC as a terrorist organisation, aligning with Bob Blackman and others. The IRGC, a powerful military force in Iran, is involved in human rights abuses, terrorism, espionage, cyber-attacks, and hostage-taking diplomacy aimed at suppressing opposition. Proscribing the IRGC would send a resolute message of condemnation and solidarity with the Iranian people, holding the regime accountable for its oppressive conduct whilst striving to promote freedom, democracy, justice, and human rights.
Supporting Calls for UN Observers in Iranian prisons
The debate underscored the importance of supporting calls by Mrs Maryam Rajavi, the President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), for the United Nations to dispatch international observers to visit Iran’s prisons. This request stems from concerns about human rights abuses, such as arbitrary arrests, coerced confessions under torture, and unfair trials. By shedding light on these violations, international observers can advocate for the rights of those detained and hold the regime accountable.
In addition, Members of Parliament recognised and commended the efforts of the MEK resistance units, which emerged in 2017 and have been instrumental in inspiring Iranians to challenge the repressive regime and strive for a democratic and secular republic. By endorsing the aspirations of Iranians seeking democratic change, the UK Parliament demonstrates its resolute dedication to fostering freedom, justice, and human rights.
House of Commons commitment to human rights in Iran
Through the parliamentary debate on Iran’s freedom and democracy, we shed light on the pressing issues surrounding protecting the rights of MEK residents in Ashraf 3. By advocating for the rights and safety of MEK residents, the UK Parliament demonstrates its unwavering commitment to human rights and stands in solidarity with those seeking refuge from the oppressive Iranian regime.
The decision to proscribe the IRGC sends a resolute message that the international community unequivocally condemns their actions and stands united against terrorism.
Supporting Mrs Rajavi’s calls for UN observers and recognising the efforts of MEK Resistance Units within Iran further strengthens the UK’s commitment to promoting freedom and democracy. All participating MPs demanded a stronger government approach to supporting the democratic aspirations of the Iranian people.
The journey towards freedom and democracy in Iran may be challenging, but with unwavering international support, the aspirations of the Iranian people can be realised. The world will be a better place when the Iranian people succeed in establishing a democratic and secular republic, and the UK Parliament stands ready to support them every step of the way. As my colleague Bob Blackman put it in his speech, this debate comes at a time when the world has never been so unsafe; the war in the Middle East, the missile attacks on ships in the Red Sea. The one thing that links all those examples is the IRGC, and the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in Iran, which stands as the head of the snake, funding, training and supplying weaponry to all those proxy organisations. It is time to proscribe the IRGC.
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