Dozens of prominent politicians and former ministers from various countries attended the protest event organized by the Iranian opposition over the weekend.
Over the weekend People in support of the Iranian opposition around the world gathered for a video conference at the Free Iran Global Summit. This is an annual protest event organized by the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), which represents the opposition abroad.
At the same time, Iranians staged demonstrations in 17 different cities, including Berlin, Washington, London, Stockholm, Oslo, Vienna, Rome, Geneva and Sydney.
“We call for international support for our people and for democracy and human rights in Iran,” sums up the organisation’s Nordic representative. Perviz Khazai objectives of the meeting.
Khazai served as Iran’s ambassador to Sweden and Norway until he jumped in the ’80s and remained in exile in Norway.
NCRI received significant international support. In a video conference over the weekend, former ministers and politicians from dozens of countries expressed support for the Iranian opposition and accused the Iranian regime of human rights violations.
There were a number of well-known names: The first speaker was the former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, followed by a hearing with the former Speaker of the British House of Commons John Bercow.
Participants also included former prime ministers from Canada, Sweden, Italy and Belgium, the former Icelandic environment minister and the former Polish foreign minister.
From Finland, for example, the former Minister of Transport, Foreign Trade and Europe expressed his support Kimmo Sasi (Kok), cared for by several Minister Washers Jan-Erik Enestam (r) and former Foreign Minister Timo Soini (sin).
The greater part of the international supporters, for diplomatic reasons, are precisely former parliamentarians and ministers instead of the current ones.
“When we have diplomatic relations with Iran, it is really impossible for a sitting minister to participate,” explains Sasi, who spoke at the event.
A notable exception was the Prime Minister of the Slovenian Presidency of the EU Janez Janša, who gave a critical speech on the human rights situation in Iran. Immediately on Sunday, Iran condemned Janshan’s participation in the event and accused him of “false accusations” and “undiplomatic” behavior.
NCRI at the event, called on the international community to directly condemn Iran’s new president Ebrahim Raisin, scheduled to take office on 5 August.
He was elected last month in an election that did not meet the criteria of democracy. According to Khazai, those in power in Iran are now, in practice, Iran’s top leader Ali Khamenein elected.
“The new president is responsible for several thousand deaths, he is known for it.”
Raisi has been linked to serious human rights violations, such as the 1988 mass executions of dissidents. Raisi was then the deputy prosecutor of the Tehran Revolutionary Court at the time and was deciding on the executions of thousands of people.
Human Rights Organization Amnesty International and a UN envoy to monitor the human rights situation in Iran have both called for an investigation into Rais’ activities in the executions.
“This new president is responsible for several thousand deaths, he is known for that,” Khazai says.
“He is a killer, Iranian Adolf Eichmann. ”
This is particularly important for NCRI, which has a large number of people who have lost their families in executions.
“The international community should not accept Rais but impose sanctions and bring proceedings before the International Court of Human Rights.”
How have former Finnish ministers joined the Iranian opposition?
Sasi says he has been attending the event for ten years, previously on site in Paris and now remotely. In Paris, the event is held in huge halls that gather around 100,000 people a year.
“The intention is to swear to the supporters in Iran that the opposition has support in the world. In this sense, it is important that participants have also come from Islamic countries and not just from the West, ”says Sasi.
He himself became acquainted with the work while working for the Council of Europe. Iran was often on the agenda of the Human Rights Council, which has by far the highest number of death sentences in the world.
At that time, NCRI was still classified as a terrorist organization in both the EU and the United States.
“The organization therefore seemed vague at first, but I thoroughly checked its backgrounds myself,” Sasi assures.
In practice, the NCRI represents the Iranian opposition, as there is no opportunity for the opposition to operate within the country.
According to Sasi, the Iranian government had train NCRI on the terrorist list to silence its critics. He was involved in helping the organization off the list.
Sasi says extremists are tightening their grip on Iran all the time, and the Iranian government is working hard to make NCRI more difficult. Sasi says, for example, he was present in Paris at a 2019 meeting where terrorists recruited by Iran planned a bomb attack. The designers of the attack were recently convicted.
Other Jan-Erik Enestam, who served as Finland’s Minister of Defense, says that he went to support the event when asked because he noticed his political friends among the participants.
“It’s important, it’s always worth fighting for democracy. The political situation in Iran is quite absurd, and religious extremism is not of any origin, ”he says.
Of Iran’s problems, for example, Enestam is bringing President Rais to power.
“The new president was not elected by free election. That is what happened when the Qur’an sanctifies all means, ”says Enestam.
“One day there will be an end to terror. With international pressure alone, it doesn’t end there, but it also helps to show that they have friends. ”
Sasin believes that the direction of Iran can only be changed by means of revolution, and NCRI is also aiming for that.
According to Sasi, there would be ingredients for the reversal. Increasingly extreme rule is tightening its power, and in recent years dissatisfied citizens have taken to the streets. However, the demonstrations have been violently suppressed.
Many protest by abstaining or voting abstention because it is the only safe form of expression.
“There is widespread opposition from the regime in Iran. It’s just a matter of when the fear factor gets so low that the people really go out to protest, ”Sasi says.
“There’s a real chance that there will be a popular uprising.”