{mosimage}Global Politician, By Baroness May Blood: On January 31, the European Parliament (EP) adopted a resolution expressing its "deep concern over the deterioration of the human rights situation in Iran." The EP strongly condemned the death sentences and executions in Iran, in particular those imposed and/or carried out on minors.

Global Politician

Baroness May Blood - Member of UK House of Lords

{mosimage}On January 31, the European Parliament (EP) adopted a resolution expressing its "deep concern over the deterioration of the human rights situation in Iran." The EP strongly condemned the death sentences and executions in Iran, in particular those imposed and/or carried out on minors.

The resolution came not a moment too soon. The EP in particular protested vehemently the execution of Zamal Bawi, who was executed just hours before the vote. Twenty-four hours earlier, five men were summarily hanged by Iranian authorities in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison. Fearful of a population increasingly discontent over the tremulous state of the economy and lack of basic rights, in January alone the regime executed at least 31 people, including a mother-of-two.

Currently state security forces roam the streets of Iranian cities in an effort to fend off the slightest potential for anti-government protests. Women have suffered the most during the ongoing crackdown which the regime has billed as the “plan to root out corruption in society”. Those caught not wearing the mandatory veil or using make-up are often taken to police stations and can receive fines and even lashes and prison terms. In October, a state-run daily reported 122,000 people, mostly women, had received warnings about their attire and some 7,000 such people had been ordered to attend classes on respecting the Islamic Republic’s dress regulations.

Actually, the regime has reason to be anxious of even small signs of public dissatisfaction. Iranian youths, and women in particular, have become ever-more vocal in their condemnation of the regime’s misogynistic policies. Last year, more than 5,000 anti-government protests took place across the country by all sectors of society. Remarkably, Iranian women have been playing the lead role in publicly defying the ayatollahs. In fact, for the past 15 years the Iranian Resistance has been led by a charismatic woman, Maryam Rajavi.

Mrs. Rajavi, who has been nominated by the opposition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) as interim president for the transitional period following the demise of the current regime, was recently a guest of honour at both the European Parliament and the Strasbourg-based Council of Europe, where she outlined her vision of a future free and democratic Iran which would live in peace with its neighbours and offer its citizens equal opportunities and freedom of thought and speech. The NCRI’s political platform prohibits use of the death penalty and thankfully for us in the West rules out the need for nuclear development.

At the centre of Rajavi’s coalition is the People’s Mojahedin Organisation of Iran which has lost more than 120,000 of its members to the regime’s gallows.

Yet, rather than supporting the brave men and women of Iran to bring about democratic change in Iran, the West has disgracefully sided with their oppressors. In an unfortunate act of appeasement, the UK government and the European Union blacklisted the PMOI in the first half of the decade.

This act is a direct challenge to the people of Iran and has angered European Parliamentarians. In the resolution it adopted last week on rights violations in Iran, the European Parliament also pointed out that two separate courts in the UK and EU had ruled that the PMOI was not terrorist. The resolution recalled the "decision of the European Court of First Instance of 12 December 2006" that annulled the inclusion of the PMOI in the EU terror list. It also took note of the “decision of the British Proscribed Organisations Appeal Commission of 30 November 2007, calling on the British Home Secretary to remove the PMOI from the list of proscribed organisations immediately."

Similarly, on 23 January, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe also called on the UK government and EU Council of Ministers to implement the court orders.

Given that both Europe’s judicial and the legislative branches have declared unequivocally that the terror label on the PMOI is unlawful, the government’s determination to maintain the proscription is a mockery of the rule of law and disregard for public opinion. As such it also counters efforts to combat terrorism, in the hope of appeasing the religious fascism ruling Iran.

Finally, the UK should abandon its fruitless efforts to placate the mullahs and as a first step end its injustice towards the Iranian opposition. This would send a message to the brave people of Iran that the free world is on their side.

Baroness May Blood is a Labour member of the British House of Lords. Since 1994, she has been an Information Officer of Greater Shankill Partnership Co. Ltd. and is a founding member of the Northern Ireland Women's Coalition. In 1998, she was awarded an honorary DUniv from the University of Ulster and was awarded a life peerage as Baroness Blood, of Blackwatertown in the County of Armagh in 1999. She also received an honorary DUniv from the Queen's University of Belfast in 2000 and the Open University in 2001.