By Majid Sadeghpour | 1/5/2018
Iranian streets are again awash with protesters demanding an unequivocal end to religious tyranny. On the heels of a largely irrelevant nuclear deal with Iran, people in the United States and governments around the world struggle to understand these protests and their potential implications for the future.
Although motivations behind the protests are complex and worthy of considerable examination, words of a prominent political prisoner, spoken this week from within Iranian regime gallows, may prove prophetic. ”Time for the regime that has committed all types of crimes has come to an end and it is stuck in a whirlpool of death,” said Ali Moezzi in a statement. “The regime of Velayat-e faqih (clerical rule) will come to end” he added, predicting that a future government elected by the people would be established.
In understanding this optimism and in shaping a constructive role, the international community should acknowledge the Iranian people’s century-long struggle for democracy and three major home-bred revolutions. The 1906 constitutional revolution, the 1951 nationalist movement, and the 1979 anti-monarchy revolution have a number of common denominators: They were secular in nature, demanded freedom, were not supported by any foreign government, and had roots in people’s desire to address injustices — from either foreign sources or unelected ruling regimes.
As is the case today, these movements were organized and supported from within the country. Longing for freedom and liberty is thus ingrained in the Iranian people’s psyche and nurtured by their resistance network, both within and outside of Iran.
Those in the streets across Iran, chanting slogans against harbingers of terrorism and religious dictatorship, are hence encouraged by recent positive steps from the United States and look for palpable supportive steps to follow. U.S. leadership in pushing back against the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), and its designation as a foreign terrorist entity late last year have served as one such investment in the Iranian people and their democratic aspirations. Prominent American officials of both the past and present have repeatedly argued that in the struggle against religious tyranny, support for the Iranian people and their organized resistance will change the balance of power in favor of secular democracy.
The ongoing demonstrations in Iran affirm the balance of power is in fact shifting. Demonstrators are today openly calling for an end to “velayat-e-faghih.” They want regime change and they want to do it themselves. The recent developments in Iran also suggest that concomitantly addressing the Iranian nuclear threat, its support for international terrorism, and its wanton disregard for human rights are not only possible, but also very much attainable. The only viable option is a democratic change in Iran — in the hands of the Iranian people and their organized opposition movement.
As the smoldering embers beneath the ashes of oppression ignite one fire after another, the United States must continue to provide moral support to the 80 million disenchanted people in Iran and compel its allies to demand that Iranian authorities be held accountable for their murderous deeds — past and present.
Dr. Majid Sadeghpour is the political director for the Organization of Iranian-American Communities. After the 1979 revolution in Iran, his family was persecuted and his brother was executed. Sadeghpour escaped and has since been an active opponent of the Islamist government in Iran. He may be contacted at email@example.com.