In a historic event eight leading Iranian opposition figures have called for support from democratic countries to change the regime in Iran and establish democracy.
At an event at Georgetown University's Institute for Women, Peace and Security (GIWPS) -- titled ‘The Future of Iran’s Democracy Movement' -- held on Friday on the eve of the 44th anniversary of the establishment of the Islamic Republic, the prominent activists pledged unity for the single purpose of bringing democracy to Iran.
The speakers, all emphasizing the importance of unity against the Islamic Republic also argued that now is not the time to argue about the exact form of a future democratic government in Iran.
Both constitutional monarchy and a republican form of government have their supporters among Iranians.
Exiled Prince Reza Pahlavi, Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi and Canada-based activist Hamed Esmaeilion, whose daughter and wife were killed in the shooting down of Flight PS752 downed by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard in 2020, as well as US-based author, journalist and women’s rights activist Masih Alinejad, actresses and activists Nazanin Boniadi and Golshifteh Farahani, former captain of Iran’s national soccer team Ali Karimi and Secretary General of Komala Iranian Kurdish party Abdullah Mohtadi were four women and four men who spoke at the event.
Pahlavi, Boniadi, Alinejad and Esmaeilion were present in the room, while Ebadi, Mohtadi and Farahani delivered video messages.
Clockwise - Prince Reza Pahlavi, Shirin Ebadi, Masih Alinejad, Hamed Esmaeilion, Nazanin Boniadi, Abdullah Mohtadi, Golshifteh Farahani and Ali Karimi
The event can become a turning point in shaping a united leadership abroad to represent the democracy movement in Iran, where activists have no chance of publicly defending it. Thousands of protesters are still in prison and dozens face the death sentence.
All speakers emphasized that the protest movement is alive and strong in Iran and it needs support from democratic countries. They pledged to work for a new form of government that would be democratic, secular and bring equality, justice and progress to Iran.
The activists representing the protest movement said that they are working on a charter for their group by the end of February and hope to lay the foundations for political representation of the aspirations of protesters in Iran and gain support for isolating the Islamic Republic.
Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi referring to the Islamic Republic's ruler Ali Khamenei said, "Dictator say hello to the end."
"It's not a time for infighting. The overthrow of the regime is not possible without unity and empathy," said Ebadi.
"Let's leave differences for the election. We will move hand-in-hand to a better future," she said in her video message.
Abdullah Mohtadi, a Kurdish political leader said that because of Mahsa Amini's killing by the regime, Islamic Republic's falsehood has been shattered.
Actress Golshifteh Farahani, also speaking on behalf of Ali Karimi, said that now is the time for unity and any Iranian sowing divisiveness is committing treason.
Well-known US-based activist Masih Alinejad emphasized the urgency of isolating the Islamic Republic in the world arena.
Hamed Esmaeilion, Nazanin Boniadi and Prince Reza Pahlavi emphasized emphasized equality, justice freedom and the common destiny binding Iranians.
Alinejad said that the group was working on a charter for a transition that would be ready at the end of the month. "We must agree on minimal principles," she said, adding: "The world must prepare itself for a day without the Islamic republic."
"The next wave [of protests] will come and it will be heavier," Esmaeilion said.
"We can organize and plan so, when the next wave comes, all of us are ready and we can transition away from the Islamic republic."
Prince Reza Pahlavi, who has long campaigned for a secular and democratic Iran rather than any restoration of the monarchy, said, "The time has come to consolidate our positions, put aside differences. The time has come to put aside slogans, roll up our sleeves and begin our work."
Updated at 22:00 GMT