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Volume 722: debated on Tuesday 8 November 2022

13. What representations he has made to his Iranian counterpart on the (a) excessive use of force against and (b) deaths of people protesting the death of Mahsa (Zhina) Amini caused by security forces in Iran. (902115)

The death of Mahsa Amini and of all those who have lost their lives standing up to the authorities is a tragedy that shows the regime’s shocking disregard for the rights of the Iranian people. We have made our views clear to Iran in the strongest possible terms. We have robustly condemned Iran’s actions, including at the UN Human Rights Council, and we have sanctioned the morality police and seven other officials responsible for human rights violations.

Thousands of Iranians have been arrested for just demonstrating their support for people who have been murdered. I have been supplied with a long list of people who have been sentenced to death just for protesting. Even worse, British-Iranian reporters who are now sited in the UK have been issued with credible information by the police that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps threatens their lives. What more does the IRGC have to do before we proscribe it in its entirety?

I know that my hon. Friend feels very strongly about these issues and has raised them at the highest level with FCDO Ministers. We have been clear about our concerns about the IRGC’s continued destabilising activity throughout the region. The UK maintains a range of sanctions that work to constrain that destabilising activity. The list of proscribed organisations is kept under constant review, but we do not routinely comment on whether an organisation is or is not under consideration for proscription—I know that my hon. Friend understands the reasons.

Iran Human Rights estimates that more than 300 people, including 24 children, have been killed in Iran in the protests that followed the death of Mahsa Amini. In the words of the song “Baraye”, which has become the anthem of these protests, the protests are

“for my sister, your sister, our sisters”.

In Farsi, the protesters shout “zan, zendegi, azadi”—women, life, freedom. I am sure that the whole House shares our solidarity with all those who are protesting for freedom against this brutal regime. In the light of these brutal attacks, will the UK Government support measures to expel Iran from the UN Commission on the Status of Women to show that the UK stands firmly with the women and children of Iran and the protesters who have joined them?

The hon. Member has made some important points about the grassroots nature of the protests. As I have said, we are taking strong action against the Iranians, but I will raise her points specifically with Lord Ahmad, the Minister for the Middle East.

I recently met a group of Iranian refugees and asylum seekers at Global Link in Lancaster. They shared with me testimony and videos of the protests and the women across Iran who are daily putting their lives at risk for their fundamental rights. Does the Minister accept that the UK has a responsibility to support these remarkable women, and can he explain how the UK intends to do so?

They are indeed remarkable women, and we want to underline the fact that these are grassroots protests in Iran. We have taken strong action: we have sanctioned the morality police in its entirety, as well as both its chief and the head of the Tehran division. However, it is not our practice to speculate on future sanctions designations, as doing so would reduce the impact of those designations.