On July 1st thousands of Iranians will gather in Paris to support the movement to obtain freedom and democracy for their homeland. The convention is organized each year by the Iranian opposition movement (PMOI/MEK). Iranian youth especially look forward to this event as it’s a time to come together and support human rights.
Too often we hear about the arrests, ill-treatment, and executions of Iran’s youth population.
Reports indicate 10 inmates were executed merely a few days after the 2017 Iranian elections, including 30-year-old Abdulkarim Shahnavazi. Reports also emerged that 24-year-old Diyako Hashemi was killed under torture by Iranian intelligence agents. Two men in their 30s were sentenced to have their fingers amputated and 90 children were also arrested in Sepidan, central Iran. The Iranian regime has a history of raiding gatherings and parties, and imprisoning the attendees, which has heightened during the past few years.
Political prisoner Ms. Atena Daemi was recently on hunger strike for 54 days protesting against the arrest of her sisters. Political prisoner Arash Sadeghi was previously on hunger strike for 71 days protesting against the imprisonment of his wife, Golrokh Iraee.
3000 Executed Under Rouhani
Over 3000 were executed during President Hassan Rouhani’s first term, including many in their 20s and 30s. By targeting the youth and spreading fear in society, the regime aims to prevent anti-government uprisings. It must be mentioned that many of those executed haven’t received fair trials or proper due process.
Youth supporters of the PMOI therefore believe the Iranian opposition convention is a perfect opportunity to raise awareness and bring attention to the plight of their people.
Voice of the Voiceless
Ehsan Qaraee, a civil engineering student in Norway, will attend the convention for the 5th time since he left Iran. While living inside Iran, Qaraee recalled witnessing young children working and begging people in the streets to buy flowers or gum from them, to make money for their family and put food on the table. These children would have to leave their schooling behind.
“As long as this regime is in power, I realized the suffering will continue. By participating in the Iranian opposition convention, I can be the voice of those children; voice of the voiceless,” Qaraee said.
He also mentioned that events such as the upcoming July 1st convention establish a sense of hope for Iran’s oppressed population.
“Gatherings like this can bring hope among people in Iran, specifically to youth and women who are direct targets of the regime,” he added.
Not only does Qaraee believe this convention would benefit freedom-loving Iranians, but Syrians and all who seek peace in the Middle East.
“The only solution to end these human rights violations in Iran and the region is to help the Iranian people and the Iranian Resistance overthrow this barbaric regime and establish a state based on democracy, freedom and respect to its neighbors,” Qaraee continued.
In Syria, the regime of Iran has aided President Bashar al-Assad with troops, money, and weapons, which has led to increased bloodshed.
Supporting Iran’s Oppressed People
Nargis Rahmanfard, a psychology student in London, has been attending the annual convention since 2004. She was born in Ahvaz and left Iran along with her family when she was just 7 years old.
“The arresting of young people at parties, the poverty, suppression of ethnic minorities, suppression of women in Iran are violations that do not have a place in the 21st century, yet are enforced every day to keep the regime in power,” Rahmanfard said.
She spoke of Reyhaneh Jabbari, a 27-year-old woman executed for defending herself against sexual assault by an Iranian intelligence member. By putting her under torture, the government demanded Jabbari recant her story, but Jabbari refused.
“She was executed for defending herself against sexual assault by a regime agent and until the very last minutes of her life she refused to back down,” she explained.
Rahmanfard went on to highlight the significance of this upcoming gathering and feels that as an Iranian youth it is her responsibility to attend.
“I believe that all freedom-loving Iranians have a duty to come together and spread awareness about what is happening behind closed doors … As an Iranian youth, I feel it is my duty to represent other youth my age inside Iran and those that do not have the same opportunities I do,” Rahmanfard continued.
“If they are risking their lives in Iran, how can I, as a citizen living in a free country, not do anything to take at least a little of the weight off their shoulders?” she explained.
Maryam Rajavi’s 10-Point-Plan for a Future Iran
Qaraee and Rahmanfard are also supporters of Iranian opposition leader Maryam Rajavi’s 10-point-plan for a future Iran. Rajavi is the President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) and advocates a free, democratic, and secular Iran.
Qaraee and Rahmanfard both support Rajavi’s call for separation of church and state and reiterated its importance as its non-existent under the mullahs’ regime. Many are persecuted and imprisoned simply because of their faith.
“In a future and free Iran, Christians, Jews, Sunnis, Shias, Kurds, Baluchis, Arabs and all others who make Iran beautiful should be able to live together in peace,” Rahmanfard said.
The July 1st Paris convention will be a platform for Iranian youth to unite, chant against the regime and join the call for its overthrow. They support the movement for democracy led by Rajavi, with hopes that soon the people of Iran will be freed from the mullahs’ dictatorship.