We are disturbed by media reports (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/prince-charles-plans-historic-royal-trip-to-iran-a6955821.html) that the Foreign Office and Clarence House are in talks with the authorities in Iran about arranging a tour there for Prince Charles this autumn.
In light of the following issues we do not consider it appropriate for a member of the Royal Family to visit Iran and give credibility to the Iranian regime:
- Anti-semitism is a core component of the ideology, the hold on power, and the foreign policy of the Iranian regime. The regime’s rhetoric repeatedly uses anti-semitic conspiracy theories.
- Iran provides weapons and financial support to its proxy terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah, both of which attack Jewish and Israeli civilians and profess a desire to destroy Israel.
- Senior Iranian figures have repeatedly called for the destruction of Israel, for instance in 2015 the commander of the Basij militia of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards said that “erasing Israel off the map is not negotiable”.
- Iran’s leadership repeatedly deny the Holocaust happened. In his official 2013 Nowruz address, Supreme Leader of Iran Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei remarked that “The Holocaust is an event whose reality is uncertain and if it has happened, it’s uncertain how it has happened.” In January 2016, as the world marked International Holocaust Remembrance Day, a video was uploaded to Khamenei’s website in which he questions the Holocaust and its true magnitude. A “Holocaust Cartoon and Caricature” competition, the third, will be held in Iran this June.
- Iran’s human rights record is appalling. Human Rights Watch says: “Although Iran elected a moderate candidate, Hassan Rouhani, to be president in 2013, the country has seen no significant improvements in human rights. Repressive elements within the security and intelligence forces, as well as the judiciary, retained wide powers and continued to be the main perpetrators of rights abuses. Executions, especially for drug-related offenses, increased sharply from previous years. Security and intelligence forces arrested journalists, bloggers, and social media activists, and revolutionary courts handed down heavy sentences against them.” According to Freedom House, Iran has a freedom rating of 6 (with 7 being the worst). Amnesty International’s 2015/16 report says: “Women and members of ethnic and religious minorities faced pervasive discrimination in law and in practice. The authorities carried out cruel punishments, including blinding, amputation and floggings. Courts imposed death sentences for a range of crimes; many prisoners, including at least four juvenile offenders, were executed.”
We call on the Foreign Office and the Prince’s private office to reconsider his possible visit to Iran.