Conference – The European Parliament, Brussels
Wednesday 6thDecember 2017
Mr Chairman, Ladies & Gentlemen,
Firstly let me thank you very much for inviting me here today to speak at this important conference to mark International Human Rights Day. I am very grateful to Gerard and the Friends of a Free Iran Intergroup for holding this event and for the important work that they do in the European Parliament.
We are all familiar with the extent of repression and abuse that takes place in Iran. From its very foundation the regime in Tehran was based on the dual pillars of internal subjugation and the export of terrorism and reactionary religious beliefs. The policy of exporting Islamic fundamentalism and extremism has been a cornerstone of state strategy, contained within the Iranian regime’s constitution, for the past 38 years.
Earlier this year Amnesty International published a 94-page report entitled “Caught in a web of repression: Iran’s human rights defenders under attack.” It detailed the appalling abuse of human rights in Iran and highlighted the Islamic Republic’s notorious overuse of the death penalty.
Iran has long maintained world-leading rates of execution. Many of the hangings take place in public, but many also take place inside the infamous Evin Prison in Tehran where the young British mother Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is being held on bogus charges. This is the real Iran under the theocratic and fascist rule of the mullahs, whose so-called ‘moderate’ president Rouhani the West believes it can do deals with. Rouhani is in charge of a venally corrupt government, which has executed around 3500 people since he took office in 2013, over 350 so far this year.
We have to understand the true nature of the so-called justice system in Iran, where the current Justice Minister – Alireza Avaie - has been listed on EU and UK terrorist lists since 2011 for human rights violations. The Iranian regime is the Godfather of terror, spreading conflict and the systematic violation of human rights across the Middle East.
The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and the body responsible for extra-territorial operations - the terrorist Quds Force - under the ruthless leadership of General Qasem Soleimani, are the main vehicles for Iran’s aggressive expansionism in the Middle East. The IRGC has for decades been carrying out terrorist attacks across the zone, including in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Lebanon.
The fact that Iran has consistently supported and nurtured proxy extremist Shi’ite groups is not a matter of dispute. What are less clear are Tehran’s relations with Sunniextremists. We have been lulled into believing that the disputes between Shi’ites and Sunnis are so significant that Iran could never countenance any sort of link with its Sunni rivals. Indeed the regime has even occasionally posed as a de facto ally of the West in confronting Sunni extremists.
But documents seized by the Americans during their raid on the residence of Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad on 2 May 2011, have proved what many of us had known for years. The mullahs’ regime, as the epicentre of Islamic fundamentalism, has always been prepared to overlook sectarian differences with Sunni extremists, to further the spread of fundamentalist terror worldwide. The secret papers, now released by the Americans, reveal that the mullahs were working hand-in-hand with al-Qaeda and Bin Laden himself and subsequently even with ISIS or Daesh.
The Shi’ite mullahs and their Sunni cohorts share the same Islamic fundamentalist belief in the creation of a caliphate through the deployment of international jihad and based on the principles of unbridled cruelty, depravity and misogyny. To achieve their objective they will accept no limits in viciousness and savagery.
Crimes associated with Islamic fundamentalism include the massacre of 30,000 political prisoners in Iran in 1988, splashing acid into the eyes and faces of women, beheading Western citizens in Syria, the forced migration of Christians, ethnic cleansing and genocide by militants associated with the Iranian regime in Iraq, burning an entire city in Nigeria, setting prisoners ablaze, bombing sacred sites, and conducting group executions in public.
The European Iraqi Freedom Association, which I chair, has just published a 25-page report which details the extensive links between the Iranian regime and Sunni extremist groups like al-Qaeda and Daesh.
This new evidence confirms what I have always believed. During the Soviet era, communists around the world were divided into a multitude of factions like Marxists, Leninists, Trotskyists and Maoists. They disagreed and fought with each other constantly. But ultimately, they all regarded Moscow as the Godfather of international communism.
The same applies to Islamic fundamentalism today. They are split into a thousand factions, like the Taliban, al-Qaeda, Daesh, Boko Haram, Hezbollah and other terrorist groups and they all fight like cats in a sack. But they all look to Tehran as the Godfather of fundamentalist Islam. Just as the collapse of the Soviet Union saw the virtual end of aggressive communist expansionism, so the collapse of the mullah’s regime will bring an end to the spread of Islamist terror across the globe.
For those of us who hold human rights dear,we have to support the Iranian resistance under the leadership of Mrs Maryam Rajavi and the only legitimate democratic opposition movement, the PMOI/NCRI, to liberate the beleaguered Iranian people, who ache and pray for the removal of this corrupt and evil regime and the restoration of human rights, women’s rights, freedom, justice and democracy to their long-suffering nation.
Struan Stevenson was a member of the European Parliament representing Scotland (1999-2014), President of the Parliament's Delegation for Relations with Iraq (2009-14) and Chairman of Friends of a Free Iran Intergroup (2004-14). He is an international lecturer on the Middle East and is President of the European Iraqi Freedom Association (EIFA).