Struan Stevenson, Coordinator for Change in Iran, former President of the European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Iraq, addressed a panel discussion on the subject of “Protests in Iran and the Role of the Opposition” in a Paris suburb on June 29, 2018. The event was jointly organized by FEMO and APA. His remarks follow:
Thank you very much. The session this afternoon is to focus on the protests and the role of the opposition. I’ve been transfixed watching television over the last month about the volcano in Hawaii. Looking at the constant tremors, the earthquakes, the explosions. And it occurred to me before coming here that that geophysical phenomenon has a lot in common, a lot in parallel with the political situation in Iran. You’ve seen since last December the massive uprising. Not only in Tehran but over 142 cities, 31 provinces, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of people taking to the streets. Mitchell, you said in your opening remarks the people have found their voice again. And the 80 million population of Iran, half of them are under the age of 30. But these young people are prepared to risk their lives going onto the streets and protest. And believe me, watch what happens in Hawaii, there is going to be an eruption of volcanic proportions which sweep away this evil regime.
You know, the regime of course has retaliated in its time-honored fashion, sending out the IRGC, its Gestapo. They’ve arrested 8,000 people. Fourteen of them have been tortured to death in prison. They then claim to the relatives and to the international press that these young people had died of drug overdoses in prison. You know, the people who are taking to the streets have had enough. They look at the way the mullahs have stolen their money, they look at the way that the mullahs are using the wealth of Iran to finance Bashar al-Assad now in the seventh year of that bloody civil war, to finance the brutal Shia militias who are desiccating the Sunni population of Iraq, to finance the Houthi rebels in Yemen, to finance Hezbollah. And the people are saying enough. You see this in the chants where they’re saying, “Death to Khamenei, death to Rouhani, death to Hezbollah, forget Syria, what about us?” This is no longer what the Western press pretend. It’s no longer a fight between the ‘moderates’ and the ‘hardliners’. There are no moderates. Rouhani, because he smiles to the camera, is not a moderate or he wouldn’t be president. He is an evil monster like all the other mullahs.
But one of the interesting factors arising from this series of protests, which this very week has taken place in the grand bazaar in Tehran, the merchants and the shopkeepers in that grand Bazaar were the traditional backbone of this regime. But they’re protesting. They’re protesting a collapse in the economy, the collapse in the rial, they can no longer afford to buy goods to sell to the people, and the people have no money to buy the goods anyway. They are now saying we’ve had enough. But the interesting thing that has emerged from all this, the leaders in Iran, Khamenei himself, Rouhani, they are now pointing the finger of blame at the MEK, at the PMOI. They used to say the PMOI are an irrelevant little grouplet, they’re only a nuisance, they’re nothing to take seriously. Now they are saying they’re behind the uprising. They are taking them seriously. Because you know they fear Mrs. Rajavi, and the reason they fear Mrs. Rajavi is because they fear democracy, they fear justice, they fear freedom.
But it’s interesting, you know, that whenever you get the international smell of the collapse of this evil dictatorship, then political opportunists start to slither out from under the stones of history. Last week, we saw Reza Pahlavi giving an interview to Bloomberg News. Reza Pahlavi, who for four decades has remained silent, living off the billions of dollars that his dictator father and this family robbed from the Iranian people. But now suddenly he has found his voice. He wants to be heard. He told Bloomberg News that his strategy was the reintegration of non-corrupt, non-criminal members of the paramilitary forces. This will be his new replacement regime. Well, he’s going to have some difficulty finding non-corrupt, non-criminal members of the IRGC.
But you know, it’s time Europe followed America’s lead. We heard very eloquently from Yves Bonnet how Donald Trump has torn up the nuclear deal, which was an absurdity from the beginning. Imagine signing a deal that forbids any nuclear inspectors from going into any military establishments in Iran, which of course is where all the nuclear activity is taking place. It was an absurdity. And releasing the billions of money that was tied up in sanctions, which were admittedly used for rearming Bashar Al-Assad, for rearming the Houthi rebels, Hezbollah, the Shia militia in Iraq. Ludicrous. Now Europe has got to stand up and be counted. Do you know our high representative for foreign affairs, Federica Mogherini, she has lost all credibility since she went to Tehran, wore the veil, stood for selfies with the mullahs, and now on the day she was there they hanged five people. And now the mullahs are saying to the Europeans, we want you to compensate us for all the money we will lose now that Trump has torn up the nuclear deal, trying to blackmail Europe into doing this. And the European leaders are taking the mullahs seriously. Well, you know, I have a message for all those European companies who seem to have forgotten the words human rights when they try to sign these rich commercial deals with the Iranians. For every dollar that they make in Iran they’re going to lose a thousand dollars in America. The reality is they cannot continue to do business with this evil Iranian regime. The days of Obama’s appeasement policy are over. The days of Neville Chamberlain are over.
…So the EU have got to wake up and smell the coffee. They’ve got to back the American position in this. The UN Security Council have got to start taking action against the mullahs for their 30,000 political prisoners who were executed in 1988. Political prisoners hanged for opposing the mullahs’ regime and nothing has been done about it, one of the biggest crimes against humanity since the end of the Second World War. It’s time the UN stood up and was counted as well. We, the people of Iran, and we, the people of Europe, are expecting more from our leaders. I’m ashamed as a former MEP that we have a high representative like Federica Mogherini who is prepared to go and have selfies taken. We are facing very quickly the volcanic eruption that I spoke about. We are facing the end of this regime and it is our job to see that the PMOI, the MEK, and Mrs. Rajavi are in position to take power, to restore democracy, restore freedom, and restore justice to the people of Iran. They are praying for that day. Thank you.