He said, “In the few minutes available, I will focus on the situation in Iran—a truly dreadful situation that goes on and on. I should add that it is now 30 years since I first got involved in trying to get our Government to talk at the United Nations about the persecution of minorities and the abuse of human rights in that country.”
Although the debate is important to him, he said he believed it shouldn’t be a substitute for action that would end the systematic persecution of religious minorities. According to Lord Clarke, the persecution of Christians, Baha’is and Sunni Muslims in Iran is well documented.
The Government and the FCO point to this in their latest Human Rights Priority Country update, published in July, when it said, “The Iranian constitution only formally recognizes 3 religions other than Islam: Christianity, Judaism and Zoroastrianism. Despite this, minority religions, and even non-Shi’a Muslims, face persecution and harassment in Iran”.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, on 5 August condemned the execution of 20 Sunni Muslims in Iran, which was committed on August 2. It said, “In many of the cases, there were serious doubts about the fairness of the trials, respect for due process and other rights of the accused”.
“Christian communities in Iran are not allowed to build their own churches. They are forced to turn their homes into churches for their congregations. These in-house churches are repeated targets for the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and plain-clothes agents of the intelligence ministry. On 12 August, 11 Christians were arrested during a raid at an in-house church in the city of Isfahan. Several days later, five converted Christians were arrested. They were all charged with bogus national security allegations, similar charges to those used by the Iranian authorities to justify the arrest and detention of British dual nationals in Iran. The Baha’i religion is not even recognised by the authorities in Iran. The Baha’i are hence deprived of their most fundamental rights and constantly harassed. It is essential to understand that the deteriorating human-rights situation in Iran, including the persecution of religious minorities for the past three decades, is a direct consequence of the culture of impunity enjoyed by the perpetrators,” declared Lord Clarke.
He noted that the massacre of 30,000 political prisoners in Iran in 1988, was overlooked by the West and the international community for 28 years, and that they are still silent after new revelations that can be heard in a recently released audio file exposed by the Iranian democratic opposition, the NCRI. The audio file shows that at least 59 of the officials involved in 1988 are still holding senior positions in Iran, including the Supreme Leader Khamenei and the Justice Minister of President Rouhani’s cabinet, Mostafa Pourmohammadi.
According to Lord Clarke, “This shows that those actively involved in oppression of people and annihilation of dissidents are rewarded rather than held accountable.”
“We take pride in eliminating those who wage a war against God,” said Minister Pourmohammadi recently, of his role in the 1988 massacre.
In conclusion, Lord Clarke presented this statement, “If our aim is to improve the situation of religious minorities in Iran, the best approach by our Government is to take a lead on the global scene and make the perpetrators of the 1988 massacre accountable before an international tribunal. These officials are those who oppose religious minorities. In November last year the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, speaking at the UN General Assembly’s Third Committee about the progress in human rights, said that it was high time for words to be translated into actions. May I respectfully ask the Minister that her words be pursued more forcibly in the coming weeks and months, whenever the opportunity arises?”