The Bishop of Durham asked a question on threats made against journalists at Iran International during a debate on protesters in Iran on 9th November 2022:
The Lord Bishop of Durham: To follow up on that, it was reported earlier this week that the lives of two British-Iranian journalists were at risk due to lethal threats from Iran following their coverage of the protests for the news channel Iran International. Will the Government take steps to condemn these threats and encourage the freedom of the press in Iran?
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con): My Lords, we will and I do so now.
The Bishop of St Albans tabled a question for short debate on 27th October 2022, concerning the recent protests and demonstrations in Iran:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask His Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to the Government of Iran concerning the recent demonstrations in that country.
My Lords, I am grateful for the opportunity that this short debate affords to highlight the plight of many people in Iran, especially young women, who are fighting for their basic human rights and, as a consequence, suffering horrific violence at the hands of the state.
Within a few metres of this Palace of Westminster, we have seen and heard the many protesters over recent weeks who have been chanting—please excuse my pronunciation — “Jin, Jiyan, Azadî”, a slogan which has been taken up by the protesters. It is Kurdish and it means “Woman, Life, Freedom”. The protesters are demonstrating in solidarity with the women in Iran. I hope that this will give us an opportunity for their voices to be heard in this Chamber today.
The Bishop of Chelmsford asked a question about freedom of religion on 27th April 2022, during a debate on the Amnesty International 2021/22 report:
The Lord Bishop of Chelmsford: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for referencing freedom of religion and belief. Amnesty International’s latest annual report sets out the parliament of Iran’s introduction of two articles to the country’s penal code that further undermine the right to freedom of religion and belief. These articles prescribe up to five years’ imprisonment and/or a fine for insulting Iranian ethnicities, divine religions or Islamic denominations, or for engaging in
“deviant educational or proselytising activity that contradicts … Islam.”
“I have experienced first-hand the sting of injustice—injustice born of being caught up in events that are bigger than we are and in the face of which we are powerless.”
The Bishop of Chelmsford, Rt Revd Guli Francis-Dehqani, made her maiden speech in the House of Lords on 2nd December 2021, in a debate led by Lord Collins of Highbury, “That this House takes note of the detention of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and the case for further action by Her Majesty’s Government to secure her release.”
The Lord Bishop of Chelmsford (Maiden Speech): My Lords, I was introduced to the House barely a month ago, having recently taken up my post as Bishop of Chelmsford, that vast and wonderful diocese that covers the whole of Essex and east London. It is a privilege to serve this diocese, which is complex, diverse and full of opportunities and challenges. Today, I thank everyone here who has offered me the warmest of welcomes. I am immensely grateful, in particular, for the help and support that I have received from staff and officials.
I have a deep and personal interest in the subject of this debate. Not only have I met Richard Ratcliffe and followed the story of Nazanin over the years, but I myself originally come from Iran. Born and brought up there, I left as a teenager during the Islamic Revolution, following difficult and traumatic circumstances. I was born into a Christian household, my father having been a convert from Islam to Christianity, in a small village in the centre of Iran. We were part of the tiny Anglican Church in Iran, which, when I was growing up in the 1970s, was made up primarily of converts and second- and third-generation Christians.
On 7th January 2020 the Bishop of Leeds, Rt Revd Nick Baines, opened the second day of debate on the Queen’s Speech, on the subjects of culture, language and foreign affairs:
The Lord Bishop of Leeds: My Lords, following the last debate on Iran, I think it is wise to take a step back from the detail, to which we shall shortly return, to consider culture and principle.
Twenty-twenty vision is something that, if claimed, proves only that the claimant is deluded. However, leaving fantasists to one side for a moment, we might take some wisdom from the late former Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, Helmut Schmidt. At the age of 91, he wrote a book called Ausser Dienst, or “out of office”, in which he advises young Germans considering a career in politics not to do so unless they speak at least two foreign languages to a competent degree. His reason? You can only understand your own culture if you look at it through the eyes of another culture, and to do that you need language; some things cannot be translated.
On 7th January 2020 Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, repeated a Government statement on Middle East security. The Bishop of Leeds, Rt Revd Nick Baines, asked a follow-up question:
The Lord Bishop of Leeds: My Lords, would the Minister agree that the “Thought for the Day” by the Bishop of Loughborough this morning on BBC Radio 4, available on the Sounds app, shone an important light on this matter? She came to this country as an Iranian refugee following the murder of her brother, and what she was pointing to was that in the context of the immediate crisis we must not lose sight of the fact that Iran has a very rich and long history as a seat of civilisation, and that we should not tar the entire country and culture with one brush.
On 7th January 2019 the House of Lords heard repeated a Government statement on migrant crossings of the English Channel. The Bishop of Durham, Rt Revd Paul Butler, asked a follow-up question:
The Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, on a slightly different tack, given that those seeking asylum seem to be mainly Iranians, and the number of Iranians seeking asylum in the past two years has been steadily reducing, is work being done to discern whether this is an increase in number or a transfer of route? Is work being done to understand the dynamics of exactly what is going on? Continue reading “Bishop of Durham asks Government about Iranians seeking asylum in the UK”