Iran opposition figures slam UK’s ‘shameful’ silence on protests


LONDON: Iranian opposition leaders in the UK are “disgusted” at the failure of British politicians, including Prime Minister Theresa May and Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn to condemn regime brutality as the death toll continues to climb seven days after protests began in Iran.

“Both the prime minister and the opposition party here have stayed completely silent when Iranian youth are being slaughtered in the streets of Iran,” said Laila Jazayeri, director of the Association of Anglo-Iranian Women in the UK.

“It is outrageous and not acceptable.”
Anglo-Iranian communities will gather outside the prime minister’s residence at Downing Street on Thursday to call on May to break her silence.

“We want them to raise their voice of protest against the brutality of the regime against innocent, defenceless protestors and to support the demands of Iranian people for democratic regime change in Iran,” Jazayeri said.

Over the past seven days, government forces have been accused of excessive violence against protestors, with up to 30 people, including teenagers and children killed and more than 1,000 arrested during clashes across the country.

The protests began over economic grievances before turning into calls for the downfall of the regime, with chants of “death to the dictator” in a rallying cry against Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Corbyn, who has previously praised Iran’s “tolerance and acceptance of other faiths, traditions and ethnic groupings in Iran,” and received payments of up to $20,000 for hosting phone-ins on Iranian state-owned broadcaster Press TV, has been criticized for failing to comment on the protests.

“Mr Corbyn, who himself has always said that he supports democracy and freedom…should start putting pressure on the British government to take a very very strong position.

Unfortunately this is not happening,” Hossein Abedini of the National Council of Resistance of Iran.

Jazayeri said there are “thousands of Anglo-Iranians living in the UK who are disgusted by Corbyn’s complete silence … how can you stay silent when you can see women and children are being beaten to death?”

UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson called for freedom of expression in Iran in a post on Facebook.

“The UK is watching events in Iran closely. We believe that there should be meaningful debate about the legitimate and important issues the protesters are raising and we look to the Iranian authorities to permit this,” he wrote.

“We regret the loss of life that has occurred in the protests in Iran and call on all concerned to refrain from violence and for international obligations on human rights to be observed.”

Groups opposed to the Iranian regime in the UK expressed disappointment at Johnson’s “weak” response and the failure of other leading politicians to speak out.

“I think this is really shameful that some politicians are still quiet and haven’t made any statement in support of the Iranian people … saying that the people have the right to protest is not sufficient,” said Abedini.

“It’s clear that this regime is very strongly despised by the massive majority of the Iranian people.”

“The demonstrations have not stopped; it is gathering more momentum and the people have shown that they want nothing less than the downfall of the Iranian regime and the establishment of a democratic and free Iran.”

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