Ali Safavi: Iran is incapable of reform

National Council of Resistance of Iran’s Ali Safavi criticized the United States’ foreign policy with Iran in an editorial for the NY Daily News last week. “The definition of madness is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result,” Safavi said. “Welcome to U.S. foreign policy towards Iran.”

Safavi criticized Western countries – the United States in particular – for their enthusiasm in accommodating Tehran’s reformists while simultaneously turning a blind eye to the clerical brutality of Tehran’s regime. Safavi pointed to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s execution record as a sign that Iran’s reformists haven’t embraced the political narrative that Western countries want to entrust to them.

President Rouhani has been named a moderate reformist by many in the West and, on the surface, has been painted as a politician able to make economic movement between the West and Iran. Dig below the surface, however, and Rouhani’s presidential record becomes bleaker. The United Nations Special Rapporteur for human rights in Iran, Ahmed Shaheed, reported recently that Iran’s execution rate is the highest it’s been since 1989, with as many as 4 per day between April 2015 and June 2015. Reporters Without Borders estimate that at least 20 professional journalists and an unknown amount of non-professional journalists are being detained in Iran directly due to their reporting, despite Rouhani promising a change in favor of free speech and media freedoms. Women’s rights remain poor in Iran, even though Rouhani has insisted that he would like to improve them.

Even one of Rouhani’s most significant accomplishments – economic reform – becomes weak when put under scrutiny. The New York Times uncovered in a report that all of the celebrated economic contracts Rouhani secured in his European tour were made solely to state- or semi state-backed Iranian industries. This left little economic benefit for Iran’s weary yet large private sector – a sector that could desperately use foreign investment.

Safavi argued in his editorial that Western trust of reformists like Rouhani are well-intended but ultimately misguided. Iran’s reformist politicians are carefully vetted and hand-picked by unelected members of the Guardian Council and approved by hardline Supreme Leader Ali Khameni. This, in turn, curates moderates and reformists that don’t represent reform or moderation. Safavi believes that legitimizing Iran through the Nuclear Deal, the United States has inadvertently emboldened the Iranian regime to continue to use violence to counter dissent.

Safavi concluded that the Iranian government is incapable of reaching true reform, and that the the time and effort the United States spends on reaching out to the Tehran would be much better spent speaking to Iranian civilians and dissidents.

“Speaking out on the situation of human rights in Iran and reaching out to Iranian dissidents and the organized opposition would go a long way in demonstrating to the millions yearning for freedom that the U.S. is on their side.” Safavi wrote, adding “Until we do, the West will continue to serve as witting accomplices to horrific human rights violations — and as enablers of an illegitimate, anti-democratic regime.”

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Maryam Rajavi condemns the terrorist attacks in Brussels as a crime against humanity

In a statement made by the Secretariat of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, President-elect of the NCRI Maryam Rajavi strongly condemned the terrorist attacks on the Brussels’ airport and subway stations as a crime against humanity.

The President-elect also offered her condolences to the Belgian people and government and expressed her sincerest sympathies to the families of the victims of the attacks. Rajavi sympathized with the victims of the attacks, stating that the Iranian people are unfortunately familiar with similar fundamentalist atrocities and understand the feelings that the people of Belgium and Europe have in these difficult moments.

Read her full statement here: https://www.mojahedin.org/newsen/44939/Mrs.-Maryam-Rajavi-strongly-condemned-the-Brussels%E2%80%99-terrorist-attacks-as-crime-against-humanity

Prominent United States politicians call for harder sanctions against Iran

In light of Iran’s recent missile tests, many United States figureheads and politicians have called for tougher sanctions against the Iranian regime, including Speaker of the House of Representatives Paul Ryan and Presidential Candidate and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Iran launched two ballistic missiles capable of hitting targets 1400 km away at the end of a large military drill. It’s the first ballistic missile firing Iran’s conducted since signing nuclear deal P5+1 in July. Per US officials, this firing directly challenges a UN resolution made with Iran that specifically called upon Iran to not participate in ballistic missile activity.

Tehran’s missile tests rippled through the international community, with many United States officials calling for a tougher stance on the Iranian regime. United States Vice President Joe Biden said in a statement: “We are united in the belief that a nuclear-armed Iran is an absolutely unacceptable threat to Israel, the region and the United States.”

Speaker of the House of Representatives Paul Ryan said that he would continue to press for new sanctions against Iran until it stops provoking and threatening the United States and their allies. Several Republicans have echoed his sentiment, calling for more US sanctions in response.

Presidential Candidate and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that she was “deeply concerned”  by Iran’s missile tests, and called for penalties against Tehran in response. “Iran should face sanctions for these activities and the international community must demonstrate that Iran’s threats toward Israel will not be tolerated,” she said in a statement.

Army General Lloyd Austin, commander of the United States Central Command, expressed his concern that Tehran’s missile test is further evidence that Tehran hasn’t changed as much as it wants the West to believe.

“There are a number of things that lead me to personally believe that, you know, their behavior is not — they haven’t changed any course yet.”

#PledgeforParity: Conference for women’s right solidarity held in Paris

Maryam Rajavi at the Pledge for Parity

(Image Source: NCRI Women’s Committee)

In observance of International Women’s Day, prominent leaders and women’s rights activists met for a conference on Saturday, February 27 to advocate for better social and political treatment for women in Iran and across the world.

While the Iranian regime has been enjoying the spoils of their recent economic deals, the political and cultural landscape for Iranian women is still incredibly poor. The Pledge for Parity conference, led by Maryam Rajavi, sought to bring awareness to the women past and present in Iran that suffer from misogyny, abuse, and dismal political representation. The conference featured speeches from prominent thought leaders like former White House Director of the Office of Public Liaison Linda Chavez, journalist Diana Culi, Spanish politician Beatriz Becerra, and former French Minister of Human Rights Rama Yade.

In her address, Maryam Rajavi stressed that anything that promotes compulsion, denies people’s free choice, and denies women’s equal rights is not truly Islam, but in fact against Islam. “We will not tolerate violation of women’s rights in the guise of religion or any other pretext,” Rajavi stated. Rajavi pledged to support gender equality for Iranian women and reiterated her position against Iran’s draconian laws in her address: “No to compulsory veil, no to compulsory religion, and no to compulsory government.”

Rajavi also spoke of the recent Iran elections, and reiterated that Iran’s very selective election did not truly represent the Iranian people. She stressed that as the regime continues fights its challengers internally, the Iranian people grow restless for political representation. Rajavi argues that the Iranian regime’s attempt to strong-arm their power through suppression of democracy is inadvertently setting up an incredibly unstable Iran. She urged the young people of Iran to “expand their struggle,” and continue to advocate for a true democracy.

Other esteemed speakers took to the podium to advocate for women’s rights in Iran. Linda Chavez stated that the results of the Iranian election did not matter – regardless of the outcome, the situation for women in Iran will not change unless the regime changes. Beatriz Basterrechea described the violations against women in Iran as simply a crime, and believed that it’s completely unacceptable in 2016 for Iran to deny women their civil and individual rights.

Many speakers shared their support for a resolution against gender disparity. In a video interview, British politician Baroness Betty Boothroyd supported Maryam Rajavi’s 10-Point Plan for Women’s Rights in Tomorrow’s Iran, which calls for the abolition of the death penalty, the abolition of mandatory veil, and abolition of sexual exploitation of women. Colombian politician and presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt stated that gender parity is essential of any government regardless of the differences in cultural backgrounds. “Parity is the cornerstone of all freedom, democracy and human rights,” she confirmed.

“We need Mrs. Rajavi to succeed,” Betancourt declared.

The event also included music from the Albanian Orchestra and featured performances by Aida and Gisoo Shakeri. Highlights from the event and a full list of speakers can be found here: http://www.ncr-iran.org/en/ncri-statements/president-elect/19951-iran-maryam-rajavi-addresses-at-paris-conference-on-the-eve-of-international-women-s-day-2016

Maryam Rajavi: Regardless of outcome, Iranian regime will weaken after #IranElections

Maryam Rajavi, the president-elect of the Iranian Resistance, said in a statement this week that regardless of the outcome of the sham elections for the parliament and Assembly of Experts in Iran, the situation for Iranian people will not become better. Ultimately, Rajavi believes that the regime as a whole will weaken, its internal crises will intensify, and the resentment and anger that the Iranian people feel towards the mullah’s corruption will deepen.

Rajavi pointed out that Iran’s clerical regime is founded on a rejection of democratic sovereignty, and that while all of the running candidates for office are loyal to clerical rule, many were disqualified for displaying minor dissent against supreme leader Ali Khamenei. As supreme leader, Khamenei has the highest political authority in Iran, and has the power to disqualify political candidates from running for office should he consider them unworthy. Khamenei’s political filter has given ruling hardliners in Iran massive political leverage, and has made it impossible for Iranian citizens to establish a true democracy.

Khamenei’s power to deny was on full display this election season. Earlier this month, Khamenei infamously disqualified Hassan Khomeini from running for membership in the Assembly of Experts – the arm of the Iranian government that monitors the conduct of the supreme leader. Khomeini is the grandson of previous supreme leader Ruhollah Khomeini, and was popular among Iranian reformists.

As the internal struggle between rival factions and the ruling clerics of the regime heightens, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who many hoped could institute political change, has been submissive to Khamenei’s restrictions, further establishing that despite his rhetoric, he either does not have the will or the strength to create a truly democratic Iran. His inaction has been disappointing to former supporters, particularly women, who feel frustrated by their lack of civil representation.

Maryam Rajavi stressed that whatever the outcome of this election, the strains between the Iranian people and the Iranian regime will only intensify. As whispers of democratic futility and projected low voter turnout grows among Iranians, the Iranian regime pushes harder to facilitate participation in their curated ballot, issuing fatwas to make participation in elections a religious obligation and defining a blank ballot as a direct violation of Sharia law.

Rajavi determined that even if the ruling clerics emerge from the election successful, the hostility that the Iranian people feel towards the mullahs and the mullah’s continued internal struggle to remain in power will ultimately make them weaker, not stronger. The political volatility in Iran in of itself is a loss for the regime.

Activists advocate for better human rights for Iranian women for #InternationalWomensDay2016

Last week, prominent women’s rights advocates from the United Kingdom voiced their concerns for the lack of gender equality and civil protections for women in Iran in an online conference hosted by the NCRI. The advocates condemned the Iranian regime’s poor treatment of women, and called on the UK and the international community to speak up against these injustices.

The online conference, moderated by Ms. Dowlat Nowrouzi, featured three prominent women’s rights advocates: Ms. Linda Lee, former President of the Law Society of England & Wales, Lady Val Corbett, prominent women’s rights activist, and Ms. Margaret Owen OBE, the director of Widows for Peace through Democracy. The advocates discussed Iran’s dismal treatment of women, pointing out the lack of safety women are afforded by the Iranian government and the denial of basic human rights.

“The terrible violence against women and youths in Iran is sickening,” remarked Margaret Owen, adding, “This regime executes juveniles and forces girls at the age of nine into marrying older men. At least 73 juveniles have been executed during the last decade, and according to Amnesty International, 160 are now on death row. Iran has signed up to the conventions on children rights but they do not care.”

The advocates praised Iranian women who object the Iranian regime’s misogyny, and noted the huge potential women have to change Iran, expressing their admiration in particular for Maryam Rajavi and the Iranian Resistance for leading the charge for women’s rights. “The change will come for women,” stated Linda Lee.  Lee urged young women to become more active, and requested that they get involved on social media and “stand with their sisters.”

The conference was broadcast live on the NCRI Foreign Affairs Committee last Friday. Read the full story here: http://www.ncr-iran.org/en/news/women/19918-activists-speak-up-for-women-s-rights-in-iran

Iranian women lose confidence in Rouhani, reformists as elections near

On the heels of Iran’s parliamentary elections, Iranian women are losing hope in the reformist party and current Iranian president Hassan Rouhani, according to a report by Reuters.

Rouhani won the Iranian presidential election in 2013 as a “moderate reformist” who ran on a platform to fix economic and social problems. His supporters had hoped his victory would lead to social change in Iran, but the dial on social freedoms has barely budged in Iran since his election according to rights campaigners, who contest that Rouhani’s presidency has made little progress in regards to political and cultural freedoms.

While Iranian women are among the most educated women in the Middle East, they are poorly represented and poorly protected by the Iranian government. Their legal witness testimony still only counts half as much as a man’s testimony in Iranian courts. Daughters in Iran inherit half as much as sons do. Women have a much harder time divorcing their spouse than men do, and men automatically receive custody of any children in a divorced relationship if the children are older than seven years old.

The lack of movement on these campaign issues have left Iranian women – specifically young Iranian women – feeling helpless. “What will change if I vote?” said a woman who could not win custody of her eight-year-old son after getting divorced in Isfahan. “Can reformist candidates give me equal rights?”

Read the full story on Reuters: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-iran-election-women-youth-insight-idUSKCN0VD2FS