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We must continue to impose sanctions on Iran for shamelessly bartering in human lives


3 min read

It has been almost five months since Mahsa Amini was murdered by Iran’s morality police for her alleged noncompliance with the country’s repressive dress code.

Her cruel death unleashed the most powerful display of courage from the Iranian people, who for months have risked death to protest against and defy the Iranian regime.

Mahsa is a symbol of the fight women in Iran face: misogyny entrenched within a clerical fascist regime, repressive in its very nature, which continues to act with brazen disregard for human life and dignity. 

The Iranian regime has played on our security fears to act with impunity

We also now have confirmation of the state murder of British-Iranian dual national Alireza Akbari. For years the Iranian regime has industrialised the detention of dual and foreign nationals to use as bargaining chips. We know that at least 66 foreign and dual nationals have been detained since 2010, 15 of which have definite links to the United Kingdom. The regime continues to barter in human lives for political and economic ends, however Alireza’s murder is the first of a dual-national since the 1980s and, unless we take decisive action, I fear for the safety of all those being illegally detained, as well as the brave staff at our embassy in Tehran.

The government must use sanctions to help uphold human rights. After each state murder of a protestor we must impose new sanctions, in particular we must sanction all guards connected to Evin Prison in Iran, to ensure that those complicit in crimes such as the rape of women who have simply refused to bend to Iranian tyranny are included. 

We must also better protect ourselves at home from Iran’s hostile intentions. Just as the Iranian regime crushes dissent at home, we know from the head of MI5 that Iran has plotted the assassination and kidnapping of at least 10 British residents and tried to launch terrorist attacks on British soil. To further their malign intent, they have established a network of so-called “Islamic centres” which they use to spread their ideology, for example one in Maida Vale where the head of the institution was appointed by Ali Khamenei, supreme leader of Iran. These must be closed.
Iran is also guilty of nuclear extortion. We must recognise that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), or Iran Nuclear deal, has failed to deter Iran from progressing with its nuclear weapons programme. While internationally we continue to debate the merits of a failing negotiation, Iran is progressing to the next stage in nuclear weapons production. As a convener of nations, the UK should seek to lead in developing a framework that puts human rights and security on an equal footing. 

Finally, it is now time to proscribe the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). This organisation is responsible for repression at home, terrorism abroad, destabilising Iraqi politics, funding proxy militias across the Middle East, aiding the murder of Ukrainians and helping to convert Syria into a massive drugs production lab. Parliament is united that the IRGC should be proscribed. This would mark a step change in our counter-terrorism policy, recognising for the first time that a nation state can be culpable of terrorism, not just hostile state activity. 

The Iranian regime has played on our security fears to act with impunity, we owe it to ourselves and the Iranian people to push back. To fail to do so will put our people at greater risk.


Alicia Kearns, Conservative MP for Rutland and Melton and chair of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee.

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