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Iran Ethnic Minorities Seek US Help to Topple the Iranian Regime

A consortium of political ethnic opposition leaders from Iran appealed for active US support against the Iranian government in Washington today. Delivering remarks to Congressional staffers, the panel comprised of spokespersons for exiled Kurdish, Azeri, and Arab groups, who all advocated for external and internal support to end what one panelist described as 80 years of "systematic cultural genocide" by Iran's Persian majority.

 

Washington, DC - A consortium of political ethnic opposition leaders from Iran appealed for active US support against the Iranian government in Washington today. "The international world has to help us topple the regime in a peaceful way," stated Dr. Roya Toloui, an opposition speaker and founder of the Kurdish Women's Human Rights Organization in Iran. Each panelist reported on human rights abuses within the Islamic Republic and expressed support for regime change and a federalized Iran, although they stopped short of calling for a violent revolution. 
Delivering remarks to Congressional staffers, the panel comprised of spokespersons for exiled Kurdish, Azeri, and Arab groups, who all advocated for external and internal support to end what one panelist described as 80 years of "systematic cultural genocide" by Iran's Persian majority.

Washington, DC - A consortium of political ethnic opposition leaders from Iran appealed for active US support against the Iranian government in Washington today. "The international world has to help us topple the regime in a peaceful way," stated Dr. Roya Toloui, an opposition speaker and founder of the Kurdish Women's Human Rights Organization in Iran. Each panelist reported on human rights abuses within the Islamic Republic and expressed support for regime change and a federalized Iran, although they stopped short of calling for a violent revolution. 

Delivering remarks to Congressional staffers, the panel comprised of spokespersons for exiled Kurdish, Azeri, and Arab groups, who all advocated for external and internal support to end what one panelist described as 80 years of "systematic cultural genocide" by Iran's Persian majority.

Mustafa Hejri, General Secretary of the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan, argued that the Iranian public is now a hostage to the current regime. Hejri stated that the Iranian regime ignored basic civil liberties for Kurds.

Kurds were first to stand against the regime after the Revolution in 1979, explained Mr. Abdullah Mohtadi, leader of the Komala Party of Iranian Kurdistan, and have subsequently suffered grave injustices at the hands of Khomeni. Mohtadi suggested that “there is no cohesive opposition to the Iranian regime,” and proposed his vision of a united minority opposition coalition.

Others focused more on their own grievances. Dr. Alireza Nazmi Afshar, chairman of the Diplomatic Commission of South Azerbaijan, accused the Iranian government of banning Azeri names and the Azeri language.

Dr. Morteza Esfandiari of the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan summed up the message of the panel arguing that regime change in Iran is necessary.

Popular Support for federalism?

Public opinion in the US and Iran was on their side, according to the speakers. They maintained that their version of a federal system was supported by the majority of Iranians. No evidence to back this assertion, however, was presented at the briefing beyond the existence of demonstrations in certain Iranian minority provinces.

“We are all out of power,” said Dr. Karim Abdian of the Ahwaz Human Rights Organization. Abdian invited Iran’s Persian opposition leaders to engage in a dialogue with his group to find common ground.

When asked about the prevalence of armed insurrection groups in Iran and allegations of US support for those activities, each panelist disassociated themselves with militant separatist groups in Iran and rejected any notion of having received US government finances for their political activities.

Each panelist declared support for peaceful democratic change in Iran as the preferred course of action. A peaceful grassroots democratic movement was within reach, according to Toloui, who also stressed that Iran had cultivated the most potent intellectual reform movement in the region. Mohtadi affirmed this point suggesting that “the best way to change the government of Iran was from within.”

Opposition Objectives

Sponsored by the Kurdish Human Rights Watch, and Congressional Human Rights Caucus Co-Chairs Frank Wolf (R-VA) and Tom Lantos (D-CA), the event was one of a number of outreach efforts on Capitol Hill by the Congress of Iranian Nationalities for Federal Iran (CIFNI). Several closed-door meetings featuring the CIFNI delegation are also planned with Congressional offices, according to Kurdish Human Rights Watch staff.

Coveting what the panelists termed as “moral” support from the US and “pressure” from all corners, no concrete policy proposals were floated at the briefing.

On the other hand, according to Abdian, the group had formulated several demands: (1) the drafting of US Congress resolution condemning the abuse of minority groups within Iran; (2) a House International Relations Committee hearing to discuss persecution of women and minorities; and (3) an official request from Kofi Annan to investigate violations in certain minority-dominated regions in Iran.

Rep. Tom Lantos, the House International Relations Committee’s ranking Democrat, is an outspoken critic of the regime and co-sponsor of HR 282. This legislation, which cleared the House in March by an overwhelming 397 to 21 vote, imposes stronger sanctions on Iran and makes regime-change official US policy, according to Iran analysts.

For more information on the Congressional Human Rights Caucus visit the CHRC website at: http://lantos.house.gov/HoR/CA12/Human+Rights+Caucus/ to learn more about the Congress of Iranian Nationalities for Federal Iran visit: http://www.iranfederal.org/.

 

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