UPRISING IN IRAN

IRAN ON VERGE OF A VOLCANIC ERUPTION

Those of you who watched the spectacular volcanic eruptions in Hawaii earlier this month will have seen the tremors and earthquakes that were followed by massive explosions, as great floods of molten lava burst from the ground and clouds of ash and toxic gas spiralled into the air. This geophysical phenomenon has many parallels with the volcanic political situation in Iran, where civil unrest and repeated public tremors and protests are a clear warning of a massive eruption that is sure to happen and that will sweep the corrupt, fascist mullah regime from power.

The uprising, which began late last year and continues to this day, shook Iran. The nationwide protests covered all 31 Iranian provinces and 142 cities. The 80 million Iranian citizens, over half of whom are under-30, have made it clear that they are fed up with fundamentalist rule. They are fed up with living in poverty as the venally corrupt mullahs siphon off the country’s wealth to fill their pockets and to finance conflict and terror throughout the Middle East. Their chants of ‘Death to Khamenei’, ‘Death to Rouhani’ and ‘Death to the Dictator’, have clearly demonstrated their hatred for the current suppressive regime and their demand for change.

But they have gone even further, chanting: “No Gaza, No Lebanon, My Life for Iran, Death to Hezbollah, Leave Syria alone, think about us instead, Death to the Islamic Republic and Shame on you, mullahs,” showing that this is an uprising against the regime itself. 

Of course, the mullahs reacted to the crisis in their usual, time-honoured fashion, sending in the regime’s Gestapo, the IRGC, who gunned down dozens in the streets and arrested over 8,000 protesters, 14 of whom have already been tortured to death in prison. But the brutal crackdown has only served to deepen public hatred of the regime and to harden resolve for its ultimate overthrow. 

The top leaders of the regime have blamed the main opposition PMOI (MEK) for leading the protests. This is an interesting development, because previously they were quick to dismiss the PMOI/MEK as an insignificant grouplet, hardly worth mentioning. Now they are finding the opposition hard to ignore. Their fear of Mrs Rajavi and her pledge to bring freedom and democracy to Iran’s oppressed millions, has made them lash out like a wounded beast.

A typical and horrific example of the Iranian regime’s medieval approach to what they call justice can be found in the case of the 51-year-old Sufi bus-driver Mohammad Salas, who was hanged on 18thJune this year. Mohammad Salas was arrested around 2.30pm on 19 February outside a police station where thousands of Gonabadi dervish protesters had gathered peacefully to protest against the persecution of the Gonabadi dervish community in Iran. The regime reacted by using water cannon and firing live ammunition into the crowd. 

During the early evening, as the protest became increasingly violent, a bus careered into a group of policemen, killing three of them. Although this happened hours after Mohammad Salas had been taken into detention, the regime was desperate to find a scapegoat.  Salas was brutally tortured. His fingers, ribs and teeth were broken and he was taken unconscious to hospital. When he regained consciousness, frightened and disorientated, he was forced under duress to sign a confession, which he later retracted. 

Despite protests of his innocence and a massive campaign by Amnesty International, the regime hanged him from a crane earlier this month, then took his body hundreds of miles from Tehran, where he was buried in a secret grave so that his relatives cannot have his corpse examined for signs of torture. Amnesty said that this amounted to vengeance, rather than justice.

It is time the EU condemned this brutality. It is time they adopted effective measures to compel the regime to release the prisoners of the uprising and to stop the arbitrary use of torture and the death penalty. Iran now carries out more than half of all executions worldwide and most of these involve political prisoners and people who oppose the regime.

As a former MEP I am ashamed when I see the EU placing more emphasis on trade and commerce than on human rights. The people of Iran expect Europe to be on their side. They expect their calls for democracy to be taken seriously. Human rights and women’s rights cannot be compromised or marginalized on the pretext of political considerations, trade deals or the nuclear agreement. Obama’s appeasement policy, lamely followed by the EU, is dead in the water. 

I do not see any way in which the current Iranian regime can survive. Millions of Iranians now live in poverty. There is rising inflation and massive unemployment, particularly amongst the young. Yet Tehran continues to pour billions into propping up Bashar al-Assad in Syria, the brutal Shi’ia militias in Iraq, the ruthless Houthi rebels in Yemen and Hezbollah in Lebanon. The Iranian people are no longer prepared to stand aside as the mullahs plunder their national wealth and turn Iran into a pariah state. The latest uprising has revealed the emergence of a courageous new force from within the heart of Iran’s long-suffering cities; a new force, prepared to risk their lives, to struggle for their rights and to fight for freedom and equality. This new force has, I believe, the capability of overthrowing the theocratic regime. 

The days of the turbaned tyrants in Tehran are now numbered and inevitably, the minute regime change becomes an imminent reality, political opportunists begin to slither out from under the stones of history. Last week, Reza Pahlavi, son of the former dictator and Shah, gave an interview to Bloomberg News in the US. Pahlavi has remained silent for 4 decades, living off the $ billions his family stole from the Iranian people. But now in a desperate bid to defy political gravity, he chooses to attack the PMOI/MEK, having recognised that they are the main democratic opposition to the mullahs and indeed have been identified by Khamenei and Rouhani as the key driving force behind the nationwide uprising. In doing so Pahlavi has exposed the fact that he, like the mullahs, is an enemy of democracy and an enemy of the Iranian people.

Interesting to note that in this interview he said that: “a major component of his strategy is the “reintegration of the non-corrupt, non-criminal members of the existing paramilitary forces”. This is a clear message to the mullahs in Tehran that Reza Pahlavi is on their side. His reference to paramilitary forces means the IRGC and the Basij. He goes on to add that: “If the choice is between this regime and the MEK, they (the people) will most likely choose the mullahs!” This is exactly what he mullahs are trying to portray and now Pahlavi has joined them.  

But the Iranian people will not be fooled. They know that they are no longer isolated in their demand for change. In America, both Republicans and Democrats have at long last recognized the Iranian regime as the Godfather of terror. It is time the UK government and the EU did likewise. Obama’s policy of appeasement towards Iran was a huge mistake. The nuclear deal was absurdly one-sided, giving endless concessions to the Iranian regime. 

Its leniency made it easy for the mullahs continually to run a cart and horses through the terms of the agreement with virtual impunity and the lifting of sanctions simply provided the mullahs with a windfall of additional billions to spend on their military adventures.

As the arrests and violent repression continue, the international community must not remain silent. The United Nations Security Council must adopt punitive measures against the regime. They must hold to account the perpetrators of the 1988 massacre of 30,000 political prisoners, most of whom were supporters of the PMOI. Many of these murderers are still in positions of power in Iran today. 

The bubbling miasma of nationwide protests in Iran is about to explode into a revolution of volcanic dimensions, driving the hated mullahs from power and paving the way for Mrs. Rajavi to restore peace, freedom, democracy, human rights, women’s rights, an end to torture and the death penalty, an end to the nuclear threat and an end to foreign meddling. 80 million Iranians pray fervently for that day.