{mosimage}Middle East Times, By Baroness Gibson of Market Rasen: Throughout recent years the Iranian regime and its activities in relation to terrorism and nuclear weapons have caused frenzy across not only the political world, but also the media.

Middle East Times

OP-ED: Baroness Gibson of Market Rasen

{mosimage}Throughout recent years the Iranian regime and its activities in relation to terrorism and nuclear weapons have caused frenzy across not only the political world, but also the media. However, the evil nature of this regime should not be anything new. Anyone who has looked into the actions of this regime from the 1979 Revolution to this current day will know that this regime is evil from head to toe, having run a 28-year campaign of violence, murder and destruction against Iran's people.

In fact, human rights violations inside Iran have reached a horrifically shocking level. Within the last two weeks alone we have seen three people hanged on Jan. 10 with five further individuals having hands and legs amputated on Jan. 7. These crimes occur alongside stoning to death, public lashings, the gouging out of eyes and over 170 other forms of torture that this regime commits in its notorious prisons. These are the truths that lie behind Iran's borders and it is critical that such victims are not forgotten. Not only must they not be forgotten, in fact they must be looked to as the solution, because it has always been those demanding democracy and freedom in Iran that are the first to end up hanging from cranes in Iran's city centers.

Amnesty International recently spoke out against stoning to death in Iran. In their statement they also addressed the issue of women's rights. As an individual who has dedicated a great deal of my time to publicize equal rights in the U.K., I cannot place enough emphasis on how significant such support for women's rights in Iran truly is.

Another major issue that needs much greater publicizing is the horrendous number of street children in Iran. In such an oil rich state, it is truly shocking that so many children in Iran live in the gutters of Iran's cities, without the food or shelter needed to even live the most basic of lives. This in conjunction with Iran still executing individuals under the age of 18 leaves the children of Iran living a hard-hitting and dangerous life.

These human rights abuses and the nature and shape of this regime today can be traced back to Ayatollah Khomeini. Khomeini viewed human rights abuses as the tool to maintain his rule and that of his regime. However, Khomeini needed to sell such abuses as necessity to his mercenaries and for this he used the one tool he knew would succeed above all, religion. Through the creation of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, recently designated a terrorist organization by the United States, he created a force not only to carry out such abuses at home, but to spread the Islamic fundamentalism created by himself to the wider Middle East, a fundamentalism which has no essence of the true Islam that is practiced by so many.

It is today that the IRGC can be seen to be spreading this ideology, an ideology which has one consequence, bloodshed. This bloodshed is now visible from the streets of Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine to those of Pakistan. The assassination of Benazir Bhutto in Pakistan was an all too vivid portrayal of what we now face to achieve peace in that region. In Iraq the Iranian regime's funding and supplying of weaponry to Iraqi insurgents has caused the death of British and coalition troops as well those of hundreds of innocent Iraqis. These as well as Iran's support for Hezbollah and Hamas are creating an atmosphere of Islamic fundamentalism, which coupled with Iran's nuclear weapons program acts as the greatest threat to world peace as we know it.

To achieve success in this fight against Islamic fundamentalism, we must cut it at its source, Tehran. Islamic fundamentalism began with the creation of Ayatollah Khomeini's regime and will end with its downfall. However, support for change in Iran does not mean support for any external intervention in the country. War simply is not an option that should be contemplated. However, nor is it acceptable for the current climate to continue. Supporters of further dialogue with Iran wish us to believe there are moderates in Iran willing to change. This is a wholly mistaken view of the entire basis of this regime.

It is however on this basis that the U.K. government has based its entire foreign policy toward Iran. It has been an ill advised policy of appeasement, which has allowed the regime to continue its human rights abuses, to continue its support for terrorism and to continue unabated in its attempt to acquire nuclear weapons. Furthermore, this policy was the root cause of the terror listing of Iran's democratic opposition, the People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran in 2002.

Many British parliamentarians felt this terror tag to be absolutely unjust and a shameful act against an organization dedicated to bringing democracy to Iran. Fuelled by this injustice and the government's steadfastness in appeasing Tehran, 35 MPs and peers, including myself took the British Parliament to court. On Nov. 30 of last year the Proscribed Organizations Appeals Commission ruled conclusively in our favor, indicating that the decision of the government was "perverse" and "flawed" while ordering it to remove the PMOI from its terrorism list. Furthermore, POAC went on to reject the government's leave to appeal.

This victory occurs on the back of an unprecedented decision at the European Court of First Instance in December 2006. The CIF ruled the terror listing of the PMOI in the European Union as illegal and ordered it annulled. However, after more than a year the PMOI still remains on the EU list, an act which is in direct defiance of the CFI ruling. Dick Marty, a Swiss investigator working for the human rights body of the Council of Europe who conducted an investigation into the terror list, in reference to the PMOI case said, "it remains almost impossible, in practice, to be removed from the blacklist -- a situation that is illegal and unacceptable."

The PMOI must now be removed from both terror lists immediately. The PMOI offers a solution which can bring change to Iran, where a flourishing democracy will lead to the spread of democracy throughout the region and an end to Islamic fundamentalism. The PMOI a member group of the National Council of Resistance of Iran has 1,000 female members with women in control of the entire leadership council. In fact the NCRI, of which the PMOI is a member organization, is lead by Mrs. Maryam Rajavi. Rajavi acts as a ray of hope for the people of Iran and the people of the entire region. Through support for Rajavi and her third option advocating democratic change by Iranians for Iranians we can not only avert a further war in the region, but we can finally begin to lay the seeds of democracy for Iran and the wider region.

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Baroness Gibson of Market Rasen is a Labour member of Britain's House of Lords and a member of the British Parliamentary Committee for Iran Freedom.