The horrific murder of one of the most genuinely compassionate members of the UK Parliament has sent shockwaves around the world. Sir David Amess was stabbed during a terrorist attack that forever shattered the tranquil landscape of Leigh-on-Sea in Essex. His tragic death comes after he spent much of his life denouncing one of the most sinister and terrorist actors in the world today.
In Parliament, where he served admirably for nearly 40 years, Sir David had a unique reputation as a man of honor and dignity. His kindness, big heart, memorable smile, and soft-spoken manner won him sustained universal admiration on both sides of the aisle.
But some may not be fully aware that the mild-mannered back-bencher also left a formidable legacy in foreign policy. In particular, he was a staunch enemy of the fundamentalist regime ruling Iran, which actively promotes fanaticism, extremism, and terrorism in the region and in Europe. He had the courage to unequivocally condemn the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism.
That is why for nearly three long decades, Sir David effectively became the living symbol of the best precepts and traditions of the British Parliament among Iranian democracy activists. He attended countless rallies and gatherings organized by the main democratic opposition, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI).
The brilliant MP said as recently as September 2021: “One of the proudest things I have ever done in my political career is to support the National Council of Resistance of Iran, which calls for the Iranian regime to be replaced with a safer and more democratic government.”
Sir David was no stranger to terrorist attacks. While attending an NCRI rally in June 2018, he and hundreds of other lawmakers and international dignitaries were targets of a large-scale terrorist operation coordinated by the extremist clerical regime in Iran. The attack was fortunately thwarted by authorities at the last minute, but it nonetheless revealed Tehran’s fanatical designs. The main terrorist, a sitting regime “diplomat” is currently serving 20 years in a Belgian jail.
Undeterred, Sir David continued to lead a strong, cross-party delegation of British MPs and Peers to the NCRI’s gatherings in Paris and Albania, presenting statements of support for a free and democratic Iran signed by hundreds of his colleagues. He also served as the co-chair of the British Parliamentary Committee for Iran Freedom. That is how I got to know him.
Fighting terrorism and defending human rights was a cause to which Sir David remained unfalteringly committed until literally the last day of his life. On October 14, a day before his life was tragically cut short by a terrorist coward, Sir David published an article entitled “Reverse a Pattern of Appeasement by Arresting Iran’s Genocidal President.” In it, he underscored the plight of the victims of one of the most horrific crimes committed in the latter half of the 20th century.
In 1988, the regime’s president Ebrahim Raisi played an instrumental role in systematically murdering over 30,000 democracy activists of the principal opposition Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK). The victims were asked by “Death Committees” to either condemn the MEK or be executed. Political prisoners who refused to abandon their democratic ideals were rounded up, executed en masse, and buried in secret mass graves.
The kind-hearted Sir David was horror-struck by the 1988 massacre in Iran and persistently called on the international community to act, to launch an investigation, and to bring the perpetrators of that crime against humanity, especially Raisi, to justice.
On many occasions, he met with the NCRI’s charismatic President-elect, Maryam Rajavi . On the day of his murder, a deeply shocked and saddened Rajavi described Sir David as a “martyr” for Iran’s freedom, thus decorating him with one of the highest honors in the Iranian people’s history of struggle for democracy.
Sir David had a profound sense of duty for his constituents, compatriots, and fellow human beings. He supported victims of the 1988 massacre, rose up against terrorists and dictators, and counselled ours and other governments against appeasing the terrorist Iranian regime.
While authorities have not pieced together the story of his horrific assassination yet, one thing is clear: Sir David took a brave and uncompromising stance against the largest sponsor and exporter of terrorism in the world, the ruling religious fascism in Iran. In this way, he made an immense lasting contribution to shaping a responsible foreign policy toward terrorists and fanatics in Tehran and elsewhere.
I am honored to have known Sir David Amess. We all rightly grieve this unbearable tragic loss. At the same time, we deserve to honor his prolific achievements, which will undoubtedly bring peace and security not just for the people of Southend and the United Kingdom, but also for the people of Iran and the rest of the world.
Patrick Kennedy represented Rhode Island’s first district n Congress from 1995 to 2011 .