HC Deb 20 February 1985 vol 73 cc1026-7
11. Mr. Dubs

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what information he has concerning torture and other abuses of human rights in Iran.

Mr. Luce

We continue to be concerned at the large number of reports of violations of human rights in Iran. We take every suitable opportunity to urge the Iranian authorities to meet their obligations under the United Nations convention on human rights. Our continuing concern was expressed by the European Community Presidency at the United Nations in November 1984 and I set out our position very clearly in an Adjournment debate on this subject on 21 December 1984.

Mr. Dubs

Is the Minister aware that a list has recently been announced by Mr. Rajavi, the chairman of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, which documents over 10,000 executions in that country, including 18 women who were pregnant at the time of execution and 430 children under 18? Is he aware that there are, in addition, allegations of torture on a wide scale and imprisonment without charge and trial? Is the hon. Gentleman satisfied, in the light of this unprecedented wave of barbarism, that the British Government are doing all that they can, in conjunction with other countries, to mobilise international opinion against what is happening in that country?

Mr. Luce

Yes, Sir. The British Government are deeply concerned by reports of the abuse of human rights in Iran which have been drawn to our attention, not just in respect of the Baha'i community but in respect of other parts of the Iranian community. With that in mind, we cosponsored last year a resolution of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights about the abuse of human rights in Iran. We propose to do precisely the same now, with the resumption of the United Nations commission's work in Geneva. We use whatever means we can—through the European Community, the United Nations and in other ways — to draw the attention of the Iranian authorities to the grave concern that is felt about the abuse of human rights.

Sir Anthony Grant

Does my hon. Friend agree that the allegations of the hon. Member for Battersea (Mr. Dubs) about torture and misery in Iran are remarkably similar to the complaints that were made against the Shah's regime, when the revolution was heralded as the answer to all the troubles? Is this not another example in the course of history of the fact that revolutions nearly always seem to bring greater misery to the people whom they are meant to save?

Mr. Winnick

Bring back Louis XVI.

Mr. Luce

I agree with my hon. Friend, and that is why we are focusing as much attention as we possibly can, within the United Nations and the Community, on drawing the attention of the Iranian authorities to our anxieties about the abuse of human rights.

Mr. Johnston

The Minister sounds very reasonable, but why do the Government continue not only to approve of, but to encourage, the vast increase in trade between Britain and Iran that has taken place since Khomeini took over power? There is no doubt that that trade has helped him to maintain his barbaric and cruel regime so that, in the end, we have some responsibility for what happens to the Baha'i.

Mr. Luce

I disagree with the hon. Gentleman. If he makes the assumption that if we impose trade sanctions on countries which abuse human rights that will improve the situation in those countries, he should think again. It is in our interest to have a good trading relationship with Iran to maintain contact between our country and the Iranians, but at the same time to draw to their attention our grave anxieties about the abuse of human rights.