Nowruz meeting and celebration
Jubilee Room, Westminster Hall – Thursday 16 March from 11am – 1pm
I want to wish a Happy Nowruz to the Anglo-Iranian community, the people of Iran, our friends in Ashraf 3, Albania and all those around the world celebrating the New Year on Nowruz. – and in doing so let me recall the memory of Baroness (Betty) Boothroyd – who was an ardent supporter of the Iranian Resistance – Robin Corbett MP, and my close friend Sir David Amess MP – and the many others who, over these long 40 years championed the people of Iran. It is 40 years ago since I sponsored the first Resistance meeting at a political conference and i echo Mrs.Rajavi’s remark that just as Nowruz marks the end of the dark winter days, so the bravery of the people of Iran – especially its women – are marking the end of dark days for their country.
This day last week on the floor of the House I was raising the use of chemical sprays on young Iranian school girls – that such a terrible thing could happen tells me all I need to know about the theocratic regime and I regard it as a Badge of Honour to have been sanctioned by them.
All of us here today must continue to raise our voices. The people of Iran need every voice and merit all the support possible in their fight against the religious tyranny that has destroyed their homeland and deprived them of their most fundamental rights and freedoms.
Never forget the words of Albert Einstein that “The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything.”
While I endorse the recommendations my cross-party colleagues made today and call on our Government to implement them as part of our new Iran policy, I strongly advise our Government to pay urgent attention to the prevailing culture of impunity in Iran, which is the greatest challenge that must be addressed when dealing with Iran.
We cannot trust the regime to carry out its own investigations because the judiciary, the police and other security organs in Iran are part of the state repression, not institutions committed to justice and accountability.
Under these circumstances, our government cannot only speak of the importance of holding the regime in Iran to account, it must act to turn these works into concrete actions that secure accountability and deliver justice for the regime’s victims.
The UK’s failure to secure an international accountability process on Iran risks further undermining the international law and the rule-based global order, a troubling trend on the international level today.
In contrast, when the UK acted with international partners and allies at the UN last year, we secured the establishment of a commission of inquiry by the UN Human Rights Council to investigate the human rights abuses and killing of protesters during the ongoing nationwide uprising in Iran.
Our Government should now do everything in its power to prevent the regime and its allies at the UN to water down the final report and to make sure those we know are responsible for the systematic human rights abuses in Iran are identified and recommended for prosecution.
To that end, the UK should back the NCRI President-elect Mrs Maryam Rajavi’s call for an UN delegation with human rights experts and the Special Rapporteur on Iran to visit the country and meet with detained protesters and political prisoners. As a permanent member of the UN Security Council, the UK must pressure the regime to allow such a visit by referring its appalling human rights dossier to the UN Security Council.
I strongly believe this is possible if the UK shows political resolve and leadership because let us not forget a united UN Security Council once forced the regime to accept UN inspections of its clandestine nuclear sites after they were first revealed by the NCRI.
Such an independent, international visit to Iran is crucial at this time as the regime is blaming the wave of toxic attacks against schoolgirls across the country – which I have mentioned – that many attribute to operatives under the Supreme Leader’s command on the organised opposition in order to justify its crackdown on its supporters and members in Iran.
In this regard, I applaud and admire the NCRI and its President-elect Mrs Rajavi for not seeking revenge on regime leaders for their crimes against humanity but rather pursuing a justice-seeking campaign that holds them to account in an international or people’s tribunal.
This shows NCRI’s commitment to rule of law and democracy now and in the future of Iran and is an essential step that will document the crimes of the regime for future generations to remember to never allow Iran to go back to a dictatorship. This commitment is articulated in Mrs Rajavi’s 10-point democratic platform and that is why I endorse this democratic alternative. I invite our Government to do the same. Thank you. Happy Nowruz.