By Hamid Yazdan Panah
I was one of thousands of young Iranians who attended traveled to Paris on June 13th in support of the Iranian opposition. The rally represented strength of Iran’s opposition, and the political coalition they have gathered to back their alternate platform for Iran. But more than that, this year the gathering was a rallying call for the Iranian youth, who are united in a simple position, the time for this regime has come to an end.
I’ve attended the rally in Paris many times, but this years event felt different, particularly in regards to the presence of young people. The rally was impressive from a political standpoint, featuring hundreds of dignitaries and political personalities from all over the world. But this is not what caught my eye. The presence of young people in the audience, on stage, or among the organizers was palpable. In fact, I spent the majority of the event working on various projects behind the scenes, and was heartened to see a number of other young Iranians rolling their sleeves up and joining me.
The presence of the youth is important in two regards. First it shows the time has come for us to take a greater role in the Iranian resistance, and take responsibility for our own futures and the future of Iran. In other words, it is time to use all of the skills and knowledge that we have obtained through being a part of the Iranian opposition, and put them to good use. Secondly, our role mirrors that of the youth in Iran, who have also spearheaded the resistance inside the country.
The presence of the youth reflects the realities of life in Iran. More than 75% of the population is under the age of 30, and the new generation has time and time again rejected the authoritarian theocracy in its entirety. If given the choice, in a free and fair election, the Iranian youth would never choose a mullah like Rouhani as their president. It is time that the government of Iran was changed to reflect these realities, and that includes the removal of this regime in its entirety. A mission which the young people of Iran have accepted.
I’m proud to say that I have grown up in the Iranian resistance. That I have learned sacrifice and perseverance and patience, and that I am now in a position to continue this struggle until change comes to Iran. I also take heart that I am standing with the youth of Iran in their fight with this regime. That I have not forgotten them, or their struggle, and that I will do everything I can to be their voice abroad. To me that was the hidden message of this rally in Paris, one which I think resonated from the auditorium all the way to Tehran.
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.