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Iran: Human Rights Abuses

Volume 732: debated on Tuesday 2 May 2023

uman rights issues in Iran remain at the heart of the UK’s strategy towards Iran. We raise violations at all appropriate opportunities, as well as via our embassy and directly with the Iranians here in London. In response to the regime’s most recent crackdown on protests, we have announced more than 70 new sanctions, and we continue to work with our partners to hold Iran accountable at the UN Human Rights Council and the General Assembly.

The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps is responsible for grotesque human rights abuses, with reports of 582 executions last year and chemical attacks against 90 girls’ schools in recent months. Vahid Beheshti is on his 69th day of hunger strike and was recently supported by 125 cross-party parliamentarians in his campaign to proscribe the IRGC. Does the Foreign Secretary acknowledge the sense of urgency that so many parliamentarians have about the IRGC’s proscription, which would improve and protect lives both in Iran and here in Britain?

Mr Beheshti has met ministerial colleagues in both the Home Office and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office. I worry about his health and would urge him to stop his hunger strike. We have responded to Iran’s completely unacceptable behaviour by sanctioning the IRGC in its entirety and certain of its leaders specifically. We will always take action that we believe to be in the best interests of the safety of British nationals at home and abroad, and of course we always keep options available and under review.

Professor Javaid Rehman, the UN special rapporteur, recently published his report on the human rights abuses in Iran. There are no surprises in it. We know that what is happening in Iran is atrocious, but we also know that the Iranian regime is doing pretty similar stuff right across the world, including here in the United Kingdom, where it is using the IRGC to bear down on people who condemn Iran in this country. Why will the Government not do what people on both sides of the Chamber want and proscribe the revolutionary guards? That is needed now.

As I say, we do not discuss or speculate about future proscriptions. I remind the House that the IRGC is sanctioned in its entirety, as are certain individuals within its leadership. The FCDO of course works closely with the Home Office, which is the Department responsible for such decisions. Any decision of this nature will inevitably be cross-governmental. We always keep our options under review, and we will always take the action that we believe to be in the best interests of the safety of British nationals at home and abroad and in pursuit of our wider objective, which is to put pressure on Iran to improve its human rights record.