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Thursday, 25 June 2009
Page: 7226

Mr SULLIVAN (2:47 PM) —My question is to the Prime Minister. Will the Prime Minister update the House on the government’s response to developments in Iran?

Mr RUDD (Prime Minister) —I thank the honourable member for his question, because I think all fair-minded Australians and all fair-minded peoples in the world are observing events in Iran at present with great concern at this rolling travesty of democracy. The Australian government deplores the brutality, the repression and the violence against peaceful protesters. There are clear doubts about the integrity of the election process and result—doubts made even clearer by the announcement of a review of the results by the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Khamenei.

Preliminary findings are that there were electoral irregularities. Two days ago, Khamenei agreed to extend the review—but for a mere five days. We call on this review to be full, fair and thorough with the results made available for all to see. Frankly, we do not hold much hope. The Iranian authorities have pre-empted the review by rolling out an annulment of the election results. This is genuinely a disgrace. Worse, they have undertaken a severe crackdown on their own people. Voters and ordinary citizens are so concerned by the election results they risk their lives to speak up for their vote. They are peaceful protestors facing violent reprisals and growing arrests. People are shouting their protest from the rooftops in the dark because they are so afraid of what would happen to them were they to say so during the daylight. There is an increased media blackout making it harder for the world to see the true extent of what is going on in Iran today. But we see enough to discern the truth. We have condemned the reported arrest of journalists and remain deeply concerned about foreign journalists being told to leave Iran.

This behaviour is in stark contrast to the political enthusiasm shown by the people of Iran in the lead-up to the elections. Expressing our concern and outrage at the brutalisation of peaceful protesters is not, as Iran’s leadership has claimed, interference in its internal affairs; it is an obligation. The Australian government calls on Iran to halt violence against protesters, to ensure that all Iranians have the right to peaceful protest and the free expression of their political views, to release those who have been detained for expressing their political views, to allow media freedom as part of that free expression and to review the electoral process thoroughly, dispassionately and fairly so that the will of the Iranian people can be seen to be expressed.

The Australian government has registered its deep concerns with the government of Iran and will continue to do so in partnership with our friends and allies around the world. The government will also continue to urge Iran, and will continue to press action on Iran, to meet its international obligations related to concerns about its nuclear program. Iran continues to reject sustained international efforts to work with it to resolve this problem. It continues to reject the generous package offered for a resolution of this problem. As we know, President Obama has made a historic decision to reach out his hand to Iran. We support his diplomacy and his action unreservedly. Iran now has an opportunity to offer its own hand back. As I have said before, Iran therefore has a clear choice: it can take a responsible path and take concrete steps to engage with the international community or it can continue down its current path, which will only lead to further international isolation. I believe I speak on behalf of all members in this place when we condemn the repression of human rights in Iran and this appalling travesty of democracy unfolding before our eyes.