By Hamid Yazdan Panah
Iran remains a focal point of controversy in the Middle East. From the nuclear talks to the unrest in Yemen and Syria, Iran presents a perplexing dilemma for policy makers. Yet little attention is paid to one of the key players in this game, namely the Iranian people and their organized resistance. On June 13th, a gathering will take place to call the world’s attention to the strategy offered by the Iranian opposition to solve these problems at their root, by promoting a policy of democratic change in Iran.
The event is set to feature nearly 100 high level dignitaries, 500 parliamentarians from the US, Europe, Canada, Australia and the Middle East, who represent a wide spectrum of political views, all united in their support for the Iranian opposition, led by Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, president-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran. Her agenda, which is backed by dozens of policy makers from the United States and Europe, calls for a policy which recognizes the Iranian people and their resistance as the real partner for peace in Iran’s future.
The Iranian people want freedom. Iran is a young nation, with nearly 70% of its population under the age of 30. The younger generation has little in common with the ruling clerics, and it is only a matter of time before Iranians demand real change. The myth of Hassan Rouhani’s moderation was short lived, particularly for those who live in Iran and witnessed the regimes brutality first hand.
The Iranian regime’s real fears are not sanctions or foreign armies, but a sustained uprising by the people of Iran. The internal repression coupled with a collapsing economy is the regimes greatest obstacle. As a result the regime is desperate to obtain any form of sanctions relief in order to remove the strain placed on the Iranian economy and avert a potentially volatile situation.
The people of Iran remain hungry for change, and their opposition remains evident, whether it is on the streets of Mahabad, or in the hallways of public universities, the Iranian people continue to organize for change. Their resistance has continued despite Iran’s record pace of executions over the last year. The Iranian opposition represents their only voice to the outside world. The event in Paris will be the voice of Iranians who are fighting for democratic change.
The Iranian resistance has gained considerable recognition and support from the international community. It has been instrumental in supplying firsthand human rights information from inside Iran, as well as exposing the regime’s nuclear programs and terrorist activities abroad.
The Iranian resistance, with the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (Mek) at its core has fought the Iranian regime for more than 30 years, sacrificing 120,000 members and activists in their struggle. The regime fears the Mek not only for their organizational capacity, but because their interpretation of Islam is tolerant and progressive, allowing for separation of church and state and removing any compulsion in regard to religion.
As Khamenei scrambles to find temporary solutions to keep his sinking ship afloat, the Iranian people and their resistance only moves closer to achieving their dreams of a new Iran. It is time that the world community to join the NCRI in calling for a new approach in the final phase of this regime; one which commits full support to the democratic aspirations of the Iranian people, and hastens the end of this failing regime.
Hamid Yazdan Panah is an attorney focused on asylum and immigration in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is also a human rights activist focused on the Middle East and Iran.