Cross-party Members of Parliament from both the UK and European countries took part in a virtual conference on Thursday, 10 September 2020, to support the global campaign to seek justice for victims of the 1988 massacre of political prisoners in Iran.
Prominent human rights lawyers, a former UN official, the UK Representative of the Iranian Resistance Movement (NCRI), European parliamentarians and dignitaries also participated in the conference, which heard testimonies from the family members of the victims of the 1988 massacre.
Speakers agreed that the massacre of 30,000 political prisoners in Iran in 1988 is an ongoing crime against humanity ordered by the highest authority in the country at the time. They also argued that the appalling human rights situation in Iran is a direct result of the failure of the international community to hold the perpetrators of the 1988 massacre to account.
MP Bob Blackman joined the Online Parliamentary Conference by Cross-Party UK, European MPs and Prominent Jurists on 1988 Massacre in Iran. In his remarks, Mr. Blackman said, “The UK must take the lead at international level and work with allies at the UN to establish an independent inquiry into the 1988 massacre of 30,000 political prisoners in Iran by including the demand for such investigation in this year’s UN resolution on Iran, which the UN General Assembly is expected to adopt later this year.”
Here is the speech of Mr. Bob Blackman:
Thank you for inviting me to today’s important conference and I am honored to be with you and the other distinguished speakers.
I want to begin my remarks by saying to the families of the victims of the 1988 massacre in Iran and the survivor, some of whom shared their ordeal with us here today, and the people of Iran who may listen to this conference that we hear your voice, your outcry for change; you are not alone; there are many cross-party MPs and Peers in the UK who are standing with you against this injustice.
We support you, and we will advocate on your behalf until those responsible for this crime against humanity in Iran are brought to justice and are prosecuted by the full extent of applicable law.
Now, I was very disappointed that the UK abstained from the vote in the UN Security Council to extend the weapons embargo on Iran. Sadly, we are aligning ourself with the failed policy of appeasement pursued by the EU, which for the last four decades, has provided the regime in Iran with immunity for its egregious human rights violations including the 1988 massacre of 30,000 political prisoners and on its terrorism to preserve diplomatic dialogue, prioritise trade and, in recent years, keeping alive a disastrous and flawed nuclear deal that will allow Iran to advance its nuclear and missile programme.
I was hoping that after our exit from the EU, the UK would have altered its appeasing Iran policy and I believe that that is what is required for a successful global Britain. It is clear that the appeasement policy pursued by the EU has been counterproductive and has only emboldened the regime
Remember as we speak, the regime’s terrorism has reached European territory. We now know that one of its diplomats is awaiting prosecution for planning a bomb plot against the gathering of the pro-democracy opposition, the NCRI, in Paris in June 2018. I personally could have been one of the victims for that terrorist attack if it had been successful.
Just read the recent Amnesty report which documents the regime’s brutal crackdown on the nationwide protests in Iran since 2019 and the killings of protesters and torture against those arrested.
Now imaging if we stand idly by and allow that same regime to arm itself to the teeth with deadly and sophisticated weapons from China or Russia. Obviously, this must change, and the UK should respectfully reject the EU’s approach on Iran and join our American ally in exerting maximum pressure on the regime in Iran. Make no mistake, the regime in Iran only understands the language of firmness. Like criminals in our own society, the regime in Tehran will contemplate altering behaviour only when its leaders and officials are held to account for their crimes and aggressions.
My good colleague, Steve McCabe referred to the recent shocking report of the Amnesty International. Last year Amnesty International repeated the same call as demanded by the Iranian resistance with regard to the detainees of the Nov 2019 protests. It stated that this regime has shown that it will not investigate its own crimes and therefore, it is vital for the UN member states to enter and call for independent international investigation on all their crimes most important of all on the 1988 massacre. How has our government responded to this? You say that you want to achieve improvement in human rights situation through bilateral contact with the Iranian authorities.
Be honest. You have talked to them about Nazanin Zaghari for years. You have achieved nothing. The UN General Assembly has passed 66 resolutions which only condemns the violations and expects the mullahs to behave better. You must admit that nothing has changed. Therefore, it is time now for accountability. If the FCO wants to see a real change in human rights situation in Iran, it must bring the issue of accountability into the resolution on Iran in the coming UN General Assembly. This is how the mullahs start taking the international community serious, and they will know that the game is over, and they cannot fool the world with their deceptions in all fields.
Therefore, from what I have said, the following steps are needed:
– the UK Government must use its new global sanction regime to announce punitive measures against those who are responsible for the 1988 massacre and serious human rights violations in Iran today, which tragically is the same people, like the regime’s chief justice Ebrahim Raisi and the current justice minister Alireza Avaei;
– The UK must work with allies at the UN to extend the weapons embargo against Iran without delay and to reimpose all of the international sanctions and UN Security Council resolutions on the regime;
– The UK must take the lead at international level and work with allies at the UN to establish an independent inquiry into the 1988 massacre of 30,000 political prisoners in Iran by including the demand for such investigation in this year’s UN resolution on Iran, which the UN General Assembly is expected to adopt later this year.
These three steps should be completed with a public support of the democratic aspirations of the Iranian people and the Iranian Resistance Movement the NCRI led by President-elect of the NCRI, Madame Rajavi as the basis for a firm British policy on Iran because in my personal view the UK now needs to prepare for the Iran without the theocracy.
The UK must stand with the Iranian People and their Resistance movement, the NCRI, at this time when people across the whole Iran have taken to the street to demand change and to protest against the regime’s corruption and repression. Otherwise, the UK stands on the wrong side of history and would be remembered for this mistake by future generations in Iran.