Yesterday, Conservative MPs condemned Iran’s human rights abuses in a Westminster Hall debate on ‘Relations between Britain and Iran’, with Middle East Minister Tobias Ellwood emphasising that “we must robustly enforce the nuclear deal and check the human rights concerns that have been raised”.
In the debate, secured by Conservative MP Seema Kennedy, MPs discussed issues including the plight of Christians and other minorities in Iran, as well as the nuclear deal signed in July 2015.
Among Conservative MPs to contribute in the debate were CFI Officer Dr Matthew Offord MP, Jack Lopresti MP and Alec Shelbrooke MP, with DUP MPs Jim Shannon and Nigel Dodds also raising concerns about Iran’s human rights violations.
Matthew Offord, who led a debate on Iran’s human rights abuses in June this year, opened his remarks by referring to Iran’s regional aggression and stating his opposition to the omission of the issue of human rights from the nuclear deal.
Dr Offord said that he was “very much against the deal” and was “disappointed that the issue of human rights was decoupled from the deal, because that was a missed opportunity to put pressure on the Iranian regime”.
He continued: “In July this year, the UK’s Ambassador to the United Nations expressed his concern about Iran’s regional aggression, declaring that the ballistic missiles tested by Iran are designed to deliver nuclear weapons. In his speech to the UN Security Council, Ambassador Rycroft made it clear that Iran’s ‘continued testing of ballistic missiles which are designed to be capable of carrying nuclear weapons is destabilising to regional security and inconsistent with Resolution 2231’”.
Jack Lopresti MP echoed these sentiments, stating that “Iran is reported to have launched up to nine ballistic missile tests, in defiance of UN Security Council resolution 2231, since the deal was agreed in July 2015”.
He underlined: “It is still the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism and is funding chaos, havoc and murder right across the region through its proxies”.
The MP for Elmet and Rothwell, Alec Shelbrooke, highlighted the “massive human rights abuses in Iran”, noting that “there is still funding of terrorism in the world and threats to other nations”.
Mr Shelbrooke referred to the “genuine concern about the actions that take place around Israel”, asserting that “as a democratic state, we have a duty to ensure that we support fellow democratic states that see terrorist organisations trying to undermine them”.
Nigel Dodds MP emphasised the need to challenge Iran’s continued testing of ballistic missiles, and asked what response the UK has made following Iran’s breaches of UN resolution 2231.
In his speech, Jim Shannon MP focused on the persecution of minorities in Iran, stating that Christians, as well as followers of the Baha’i faith and Jews are “subject to unbelievable discrimination and specific debarment from education and employment”.
Mr Shannon expressed that the UK “must be able to exert some influence and diplomatic pressure” in these areas. He concluded: “Speak up and speak out for those who are prohibited from speaking for themselves, and put down a clear marker that such persecution cannot be allowed to continue behind closed doors in Iran”.
Minister for the Middle East, Tobias Ellwood MP, asserted: “We must robustly enforce the nuclear deal and check the human rights concerns that have been raised in this debate, while promoting trade opportunities. We stand ready to help Iran at this juncture, but we expect it to check its proxy influence in the region around it and play a responsible role as it moves into the future”.