Remarks by Theresa Villiers at the Free Iran World Summit 2021 on 10 July 2021

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The Right Honorable Theresa Villiers, former Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs of the UK

Mrs. Rajavi, honorable colleagues, elected representatives from around the world, ladies and gentlemen, it’s a great privilege for me to be here with you today. I feel very honored that you’ve invited me to take part. As we’ve heard from so many speakers this afternoon, the promotion of Ebrahim Raisi to the presidency after a sham election signals that the regime has no intention of altering its antagonistic approach to the international community. Nothing in their public statements give any indication that the Mullahs have any intention of bringing to an end their sponsorship of violent militias around the region nor to their nuclear activities. Groups such as Amnesty International have expressed the greatest concerns about Mr. Raisi’s elevation. Citing evidence of his involvement in the horrific mass killings of 1988, which saw thousands of political prisoners murdered. The promotion of Mr. Raisi should not be rewarded by sanctions relief.

In its fifth report on the UK’s relationship with Iran, my colleagues on the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee stressed the Iranian government’s appalling human rights record. Many UK Members of Parliament have called for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to use its Magnitsky sanctions regime to impose targeted punitive measures on officials like Mr. Raisi, where there is credible evidence of their involvement in serious, systematic human rights abuses. This new global human rights sanctions system is already in use in relation to some other countries, and Iran should not be exempt. Mr. Raisi should not be exempt.

I fear that his appointment is likely to make the human rights situation even worse. My British Iranian constituents have told me that they view this latest development as indicating that the regime wants to tighten its chokehold on the people of Iran. The huge attendance at this online conference is a sign once again that there are 10s of 1000s of Iranians who want a better future for their country, where there is respect for the rule of law, equality between men and women, and respect for human rights. One which is based on the principles of freedom, democracy and equality, as highlighted by Mrs. Rajavi in her speech earlier today. I know that there are many who are prepared to endure great sacrifices to bring about change.

Returning to that report by the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, my colleagues call for the prescription of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard call. This important move is one that I too have been advocating for some years, and I reiterate that day. As the report points out, the IRGC are clearly responsible for violence broke bloodshed and suffering in Iran. The committee concludes that the prime victims of the Iranian regime are the Iranian people. They call on the UK government to continue to express support for those suffering under the violence of the regime. This free Iran summit offers me the opportunity to do that. I joined many other speakers at this massive event in encouraging the UK Government and the international community as a whole, to engage with the NCRI as an opposition grouping capable of offering a viable democratic alternative for the people of Iran. I will start with all of those who want a democratic and free future for Iran and I will continue to advocate for human rights, respect for the rule of law, democracy and justice until Iran is free. Thank you.