The US and Europe should work in concert to exert pressure on the Iranian regime and help bring about change in Iran, senior members of the US Congress stated in an international conference in Paris on Saturday.
The congressmen who addressed the conference, “Iran: Prospects for change in 2018. US and EU policy on Iran,” urged the West to stand on the side of the Iranian people and their desire to establish democracy and human rights in Iran. They added that this goal can only be achieved after the ruling theocracy is removed.
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), and Judge Ted Poe (R-TX), senior members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, were joined by political dignitaries and experts from Europe and from Muslim countries including Syd Ahmed Ghozali, former Prime Minister of Algeria, Rama Yade, former French Secretary of State for human rights, and Yves Bonnet, former Director of France’s internal security agency, DST and member of the French National Assembly.
The conference took place in the wake of major anti-regime protests in late December and January that expanded to 142 cities and towns throughout Iran and shook the clerical regime to its core. Protests and acts of defiance have continued in February and many experts expect another mass uprising to erupt at some point in the future.
During the protests, the people, manifested their desire for regime change with slogans such as ‘death to [Supreme Leader] Khamenei’ and ‘death to [President] Rouhani’. Some 50 protesters were shot to death, and according to the network of the people’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) inside the country, 8,000 protesters were arrested. At least 12 of the detained were tortured to death.
The cross-Atlantic conference was organized by the Alliance for Public Awareness- Iranian Communities in Europe. It was held at Maison de la Chimie (“the House of Chemistry”), an international conference center in Paris, located near the National Assembly.
The participants addressed serious and pressing concerns that have developed on both sides of the Atlantic and in the region with regard to Iran’s ballistic missiles program, its meddling in the affairs of countries in the region, its support of extremist groups, and so on.
They articulated the acute crises that Tehran faces in various areas and urged a more united approach towards these threats emanating from Tehran. They condemned the Iranian regime for its brutal crackdown on the protests and underscored that the international community should adopt a more robust attitude regarding atrocities perpetrated by the regime against its own citizens.
Earlier on the day of the conference, Rohrabacher, Chair of the Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia and Emerging Threats, and Poe (R-TX), Chair of the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Non-Proliferation and Trade, met Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran in Auvers-sur-Oise in north of Paris.
On January 9, Khamenei clearly pronounced that the NCRI’s main constituent, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), had played a key role in organizing the protests. “They had prepared for this since months ago… to organize, to see this and that and recruit certain people in the country,” Khamenei said.
In the conference, the congressmen urged the U.S. Government to impose more sanctions on the Iranian regime’s officials and entities involved in suppressing the protesters, and to provide internet and other forms of communications to the Iranian people.
“The U.S. Government needs to officially recognize that the Iranian people reject the corrupt and repressive mullah regime in Iran. We, in Congress and the U.S. Government must make it clear that we are on the side of the Iranian people and not their Islamic, fanatic and corrupt allies who oppress them,” Rep. Rohrabacher said.
Rep. Poe emphasized that the world community must hold the Iranian regime’s officials accountable for their atrocities and assist the people of Iran in their noble quest for freedom and democracy.
Scores of young activists, several of whom had fled Iran recently, provided eyewitness accounts of the state of affairs in Iran and the deep desire for change among young Iranians. Most of the activists were affiliated to the network of the MEK and a number of them had been imprisoned in Iran for their activism against the regime.