January 28, 2023

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UK’s Foreign Secretary says execution of dual national Alireza Akbari was a ‘cowardly’ act

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly has warned today that the UK could take further action against Iran after a British-Iranian National was executed.

Alireza Akbari, arrested in 2019 having worked as Iran’s deputy defence minister, was accused of working with MI6 against Iran’s regime, an allegation which he denied.

Iranian state media then announced last week that Mr Akbari has been executed.

Mr Cleverly did not rule out additional sanctions against Tehran, warning the country’s leaders that the “world is watching you” and “we do not limit ourselves to the steps I have already announced.”

The Foreign Secretary refused to rule out proscribing the Iranian Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) as a terrorist organisation

He told MPs: “Let there be no doubt, he fell victim to the political vendettas of a vicious regime.

“His execution was the cowardly and shameful act of a leadership which thinks nothing of using the death penalty as a political tool to silence dissent and settle internal scores.

He added: “The House should be in no doubt that we are witnessing the vengeful actions of a weakened and isolated regime obsessed with suppressing its own people, debilitated by its own fear of losing power and wrecking its international reputation.

“Our message to that regime is clear: the world is watching you and you will be held to account, particularly by the brave Iranian people, so many of whom you are oppressing and killing.”

The Conservative chairwoman of the Foreign Affairs Committee asked Mr Cleverly on Monday whether he agreed that proscribing the IRGC is a policy decision, not a “legal one”.

Alicia Kearns called on the IRGC to be proscribed and branded Iran a “terrorist state”.

She continued: “From hostage-taking to terrorist plots, assassinations, nuclear extortion, destabilisation of Middle Eastern Europe, Iran is a terrorist state and they have weaponised human life. This is the first murder of a dual national since the 1980s – a clear escalation.

“The House is clear that we do need to proscribe the IRGC, this is a policy decision, not a legal one. Can he confirm that he recognises that to be the case? Secondly, we need to close down the IRGC operating centres within the UK.”

Ms Kearns argued “these are centres for spreading hostile influence within the UK”.

Mr Cleverly replied: “I absolutely take the points that she has made about ensuring that the response that we take here in the UK – and indeed the response that we take in conjunction with our international partners – sends an incredibly clear message to the regime that these actions are unacceptable and they will be responded to each and every time they take place.”

Mr Cleverly added:”Mr Akbari’s execution follows decades of pitiless repression by a ruthless regime. Britain stands with the brave and dignified people of Iran as they demand their rights and freedoms.

“Just how much courage that takes is shown by the appalling fact that over 500 people have been killed and 18,000 have been arrested during the recent wave of protests.

“Instead of listening to calls for change within Iran, the regime has resorted to its usual tactics of blaming outsiders and lashing out against its supposed enemies, including by detaining a growing number of foreign nationals for political gain.”

Shadow Foreign Office minister Bambos Charalambous told the Commons: “The execution of Alireza Akbari is the most horrendous human rights abuse, a barbaric act of politically-motivated murder at the hands of the Iranian regime.”

Mr Charalambous added: “We have discussed many times in this House the importance of a strong response to this brutal regime.

“The Government must now proscribe the IRGC, either through the existing process or through amending the National Security Bill to create a new process of proscription for hostile state actors. The playbook of this regime is to use brutality and violence for its own political ends and its own survival.”

Responding to Labour, Mr Cleverly said: “He will know that the future proscription or sanctions designation of individuals or entities is not something that we speculate about or discuss at the despatch box.

“However, he should know that we share the revulsion that he expressed at the despatch box. As I said, we do not limit ourselves to the actions that we have already announced.”

Iran’s state-backed brutality has been a concern among human rights groups for decades.

In September, 22 year-old-woman Mahsa Amini was arrested by Iranian morality police for allegedly failing to abide by the country’s strict dress code for women.

Ms Amini was accused of not covering her hair with a hijab, and was later killed by police officers. This sparked anger across Iran, and for the last four months, there have been regular protests against the regime in Tehran.

But this has been met with a crackdown from the authorities. It is believed around 19,000 people have been arrested and over 500 people have been killed, according to Human Rights Activists in Iran.

Original News : https://www.express.co.uk/news/world/1721994/iran-news-britain-action-Alireza-Akbari-execution-james-cleverly

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