By Struan Stevenson, President, the European Iraqi Freedom Association
The Sunday Herald, Jan. 8, 2018 - AYATTOLAH Ali Khamenei, the Iranian Supreme Leader, blames the uprising in his country on “enemies of Iran”. He is mistaken. People like me who support the brave protesters who risk their lives in that nation’s villages, towns and cities are not the enemies of Iran. On the contrary, we are the friends of Iran and its beleaguered people. We are the enemies of the clerical tyrants who have driven Iran to the brink of deprivation and despair over 39 years of oppression and corruption.
After more than a week of rioting involving hundreds of thousands of protesters, the terrified clerical regime instructed General Ali Jafari, the head of its criminal Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), listed as an international terrorist organisation by the US Treasury Department, to claim that “the sedition” has been put down and that only 15,000 “troublemakers” had taken to the streets during the riots.
The regime even instructed its public-sector staff and the wives and families of its brutal Basij paramilitary force to participate in mock pro-government demonstrations in an attempt to persuade observers that their faltering tyranny still enjoys broad support.
The truth is quite the opposite. Mass protests are continuing. At least 45 people have been killed and around 2,500 have been arrested; many will now face rape, torture and even the death penalty. But the courageous protesters will not be cowed. Iran’s 80 million citizens are sick of a corrupt regime that has bankrupted their country while supporting Bashar al-Assad’s bloody civil war in Syria, the vicious Houthi rebels in Yemen, the terrorist Hezbollah in Lebanon and the ruthless Shi’ia militias rampaging across Iraq. Some 40 per cent of the population is under 25 and unemployment is more than 40 per cent. Savage price rises for basic commodities have exacerbated a worsening economic situation in which millions of out-of-work Iranians can no longer afford to feed their families, while they witness oil wealth being plundered to fund the export of conflict and terror and feather the lavish nests of the mullahs who live in matchless luxury.
The Iranian regime claims to represent God’s will on earth, yet regards women as second-class citizens, hangs people in public, condones torture, arbitrary imprisonment, eye-gouging, stoning, whipping and amputation. The UN is investigating how the regime executed more than 30,000 political prisoners in 1988. Amnesty International last August published a 94-page report entitled Caught in a web of repression: Iran’s human rights defenders under attack.
It detailed 45 instances of what the organization described as a “vicious crackdown” coinciding with the supposedly moderate presidency of Hassan Rouhani, who has presided over 3,500 executions since he took office in 2013.
The West’s policy of appeasement towards Iran must come to a shuddering stop in the wake of these mass protests. The world looks to the United States, the EU and UN to show leadership and determination in backing the 80 million beleaguered Iranians who ache and pray for the removal of this corrupt and medieval regime. We must show our outright support for the democratic opposition, the People’s Mojahedin of Iran (PMOI) and its charismatic leader Maryam Rajavi.
It is poised and ready to restore human rights, women’s rights, freedom, justice and democracy to this long-suffering nation. It will indeed by a happy 2018 for Iran if Ayatollah Khamenei and his band of evil cronies are consigned to the dustbin of history.