By David Alton
Universe Column August 10th 2003
The news that Iran has successfully tested ballistic missiles should send a shudder through every democratic nation. The regime’s boast is that the missiles can reach any city within an 800 mile radius. This is part of a long term strategy for asserting their hegemony over the region and for exporting the fanaticism and terror that have become the hallmarks of their domestic policies.
What the British Foreign Office – either with touching naivety or disingenuous duplicity (probably the latter) – call a “reformist regime” – conducted 474 public executions in one recent year and has carried out hundreds of other executions of political dissidents. The number has been rising exponentially year on year.
The depredations know no depths. There have, for instance, been reported cases of stonings and one 21-year-old had her eyes gouged out. Last summer one man was sentenced to death by a court and ordered to be thrown off a cliff.
If these are the actions of a reformist government, thank God they are not brutal, barbaric reactionary theocrats. I am intrigued to know precisely what actions have earned the Iranian regime its epithet as “reformist”.
Unlike the US Administration, who have measured their dealings with Iran against the yard-stick of human rights violations and anti-democratic policies, Europe’s tawdry approach has been based on narrow self-interest – with France and the UK trying to out bid one another for future contracts and deals.
The recent imprisonment of Maryam Rajavi – the leader of the Iranian Resistance – by the French – was another squalid attempt to appease and curry favour with the mullahs’ inhuman regime.
I was struck by the coincidence that during this same period another of the world’s great women, Aung San Suu Kyi, was thrown into Burma’s Insein jail by the Burmese military junta. Mrs. Rajavi and Aung San Suu Kyi are two of democracy’s most significant icons, both standing against tyrannies who have committed gross violations of the human rights of their own people. And both have suffered grievously and paid a great price.
Just what were the French government thinking of in arresting Mrs. Rajavi if it wasn’t crass ingratiation paving the way for commercial dividends? The proud French tradition of protecting human rights and freedom of expression was severely compromised and only redeemed by the protestors who led vigils and hunger strikes until Mrs.Rajavi’s release was secured.
While Europe has been busy arresting resistance leaders, the Iranian President has proudly announced that they now have a uranium extraction centre. There are also secret sites, such as the uranium enrichment plant at Natanz and a heavy water plant at Arak – central to the regime’s nuclear weapons programme. And now they have successfully tested a ballistic missile.
One day Europe will wake up to the reality of a regime that terrorises its own people and now seeks to terrorise its neighbours. The world’s best hope is Maryam Rajavi and her Iranian Resistance – and their deep and abiding commitment to democratic change. When she says “freedom and humanity will definitely triumph in Iran” let’s hope, for all our sakes, that she is right.
For the Uyghurs, Genocide is a word which dares not speak its name. For the sake of women like Rahima Mahmut, Gulzira Auelkhan, Sayragul Sauytbay, and Ruqiye Perhat – whose heart-breaking, shocking, stories are recorded here – it’s time that the crime of genocide was given definition in the UK. On January 19th Parliament can use its voice and speak that name – insisting on justice for victims of Genocide and refusing to make tawdry trade deals with those responsible for the crime above all crimes.
For the Uyghurs Genocide is a word which dares...