LONDON: Iran’s democratic revolution must be supported by Western countries, including the UK, according to a cross-party panel of MPs and peers.
The meeting in the UK Parliament on Wednesday argued that a significant number of Iranians reject the regime and would support the establishment of a free, democratic and secular republic, but not a return to the country’s previous system of monarchy.
But in order for Iranians to overcome the “brutal autocracy” that has clamped down on months-long nationwide protests, the UK must take measures to assist demonstrators, including proscribing the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization and supporting the resistance movement, MPs said.
The meeting backed the National Council of Resistance of Iran as a “viable democratic alternative to the regime.”
Led by Maryam Rajavi, the NCRI has put forward a 10-point reform plan for the democratic future of Iran and is supported by thousands in the diaspora.
Former Scottish MEP Struan Stevenson, who serves as coordinator of the Campaign for Iran Change, urged the UK government to cut ties with Tehran and provide support to the NCRI.
“During the current protests, the mullahs have begun to use a different tactic, trying to link the opposition to the monarchy, to discourage people from joining the protests,” he said.
“But in defiance of this new trick, protesters can routinely be heard yelling ‘down with the oppressor, be it the shah or the supreme leader,’ and ‘no to the shah, no to the mullahs,’ in towns and cities across Iran. (Former Shah) Reza Pahlavi does not represent the Iranian diaspora.”
At the meeting, Stevenson showcased his new book “Dictatorship and Revolution: Iran — A Contemporary History,” which outlines the country’s political past and reveals its most pressing future issues.
MP Steve McCabe, who serves as co-president of the British Committee for Iran Freedom, said: “As Struan explains in his book, the Iranian people see only one way forward to liberty and human rights, and that is an Iran under genuine popular rule, a democratic republic.
“The people reject the shah and the mullahs since they are the antithesis to democracy and popular rule.”
McCabe noted similarities between the Iranian regime’s use of the IRGC to maintain power, and Pahlavi’s employment of secret police agency Savak to terrorize dissenters.
MP Bob Blackman, co-president of the International Committee of Parliamentarians for a Democratic Iran, said: “For a majority of the people in Iran, the shah and the mullahs are synonymous with totalitarian dictatorship.
“That is why generations of Iranians have paid the highest price to secure a free and democratic Iran for as long as it takes.”
Baroness Verma, a member of the House of Lords, said women are playing a “prominent role” in Iran’s protest movement, and are the “driving force for change” as well as the “guarantor of democracy” in the country.
She stressed the importance of UK support for the NCRI’s 10-point plan, which aims to promote complete gender equality in Iranian society.
“Women have played a prominent role in the struggle for democracy in Iran that has been going on since the constitutional revolution almost a century ago,” Verma said.
“Today, women and girls of Iran have a popular movement and a democratic platform, presented by the NCRI and Maryam Rajavi’s 10-point plan, which ensures the following for women in the future Iran after the mullahs are overthrown: Complete gender equality in the realms of political, social, cultural and economic rights, and equal participation of women in political leadership.
“That is why women are at the forefront of the uprising for a new revolution and leading the resistance movement. They are the driving force for change and guarantor of democracy in Iran.
“So I agree with the other speakers on the recommendations put forward, today, especially on the need for our government to proscribe the IRGC.”