Mahsa Amini and the Iran protests

I am shocked and appalled by the events surrounding the death, whilst in custody, of Mahsa Amini, and the subsequent arrests, and deaths of those who have taken to the streets in protest.

I stand in solidarity with the many brave women and allies in Iran and around the world protesting for freedom and rights in Iran and have made this clear in my social media.

I have signed EDM (Early Day Motion) 581 to that effect:

Protests in Iran (Nadia Whittome, MP for Nottingham East)

That this House notes that protests against the Iranian government have been taking place for the last two months in Iran following the death in custody of Mahsa Amini; further notes with alarm that the Iranian authorities have killed more than 300 people and detained thousands of others in response; understands that hundreds of people have been charged for their participation in the protests, with at least one person being sentenced to death so far; reaffirms its solidarity with pro-democracy and human rights activists, and its opposition to violent repression and the use of death sentences; urges the Government to call for the UN Human Rights Council to establish an international investigative and accountability mechanism to collect, consolidate, preserve, and analyse evidence of the most serious crimes under international law committed in Iran; and calls on the Government to commit to exercising universal jurisdiction to criminally investigate and prosecute Iranian officials suspected of criminal responsibility for crimes under international law and to strengthen Magnitsky-style sanctions on officials involved in human rights abuses.

I am guided in all that I do by the need for upholding human rights everywhere.  In June and then in July of this year there were debates in the House relating to Iran’s nuclear programme and in my speeches I referenced human rights consistently throughout:

“I am well aware of the systematic abuse of human rights in Iran for many years. Any discussion with Iran must include a discussion of human rights. Obviously, that includes the dramatic horrors of executions and public executions, but the restriction on rights of assembly and freedom of speech are to me equally important.”

“I was part of a delegation from the all-party group on Iran in 2014, and it was a fascinating experience, because the members of the delegation were Lord Lamont, a former Conservative Minister and Chancellor, Jack Straw, a former Labour Home Secretary, the current Defence Secretary, and me. The four of us divided up our roles in the delegation very clearly early on. Lord Lamont talked about economic issues, Jack Straw talked about global issues and trade, and I relentlessly and endlessly raised a lot of concerns about individual and collective human rights cases with the people we met in Iran. We were quite well received at universities and so forth, and we had serious negotiations. It was clear to me not only that such negotiations are tough, but that, if the Iran nuclear agreement was to succeed—this was pre the agreement, by the way; that is why we were there—it had to be accompanied by two things: the lifting of sanctions, which were very severe, particularly the medical sanctions being imposed at that time; and a human rights dialogue. The Iranians made it clear that they were prepared to have a human rights dialogue with the EU, or with other parties.”