Prominent Iranian opposition figures who have joined hands to create a united front against the Islamic Republic held another event reiterating determination to end the regime.
Exiled Prince Reza Pahlavi, Canada-based activist Hamed Esmaeilion, whose daughter and wife were killed in the shooting down of Flight PS752 by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard in 2020, as well as US-based, journalist and women’s rights activist Masih Alinejad, actress and activist Nazanin Boniadi and Secretary General of Komala Iranian Kurdish party Abdullah Mohtadi held a panel in Toronto, Canada, on Saturday to discuss Iran's democracy movement.
They also delivered speeches during the street events held on the sidelines of the meeting, titled “Unity; A Bridge To Freedom.”
The group, which calls itself the Alliance for Democracy and Freedom in Iran, announced its existence in a February event at Georgetown University's Institute for Women, Peace and Security (GIWPS) -- titled ‘The Future of Iran’s Democracy Movement' and issued a Charter of Solidarity and Alliance for Freedom (Mahsa Charter) earlier in March.
Defending the contents of the Mahsa Charter, Mohtadi talked about “the spirit of pluralism” as a necessity to overthrow the Islamic Republic. He pointed out that the charter is based on minimum common grounds to defend the rights of minorities and ethnic groups, which paves the way for a transition from the Islamic Republic. He noted that the united opposition is trying to have a coalition as inclusive as possible.
(From left) actress and activist Nazanin Boniadi, Exiled Prince Reza Pahlavi, women’s rights activist Masih Alinejad, Secretary General of Komala Iranian Kurdish party Abdullah Mohtadi, and Canada-based activist Hamed Esmaeilion (March 25, 2023)
Prince Pahlavi reiterated his ideas for a democratic Iran, stressing the need for joint efforts to hold a free election in the country. "The first rule of the democratic system is to respect the ballot box,” he said.
"I firmly believe in the power of the people. Let us not underestimate the power of public opinion, because it creates the necessary motivation to feel responsible and accountable," the exiled prince said.
He said the Iranians inside the country as well as the expatriates should prove to the world that the overthrow of the regime would not leave a power vacuum in the country. “Iran will not become Syria, because we have so many capable and efficient experts inside and outside the country."
He also talked about supporting the labor strikes as the most important factor to put pressure on the regime from inside Iran, adding that experts are examining ways to create a fund to support strikes and create channels to transfer money to the striking workers.
During his speech to a crowd of Iranians who had gathered outside the venue, Pahlavi greeted Nowruz – the Persian new year that started on March 21 – expressing hope that the next Nowruz celebrations would be held in Iran, free of the regime. "We hope this will be the last Nowruz in exile and we Iranians can celebrate freedom in our own country."
Alinejad, who is known for her frank and practical views about the regime, also defended the Mahsa Charter, acknowledging that a lot of people criticized its content for some phrases that seemed not to reaffirm the territorial integrity of Iran. Emphasizing that "the most separatist person" in Iran is Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, she said, "We have gathered together based on the minimums and we are at the beginning of a union to show a more pluralistic face of Iran."
"None of the members of the Alliance for Democracy and Freedom in Iran claim a 100-percent agreement, but we understand the power of solidarity," she said, accusing the Islamic Republic of sowing discord among the opposition to ensure its survival. "Islamic Republic has survived by separating us and turning us into wandering islands,” she added, noting that the regime has labeled Kurds and Baluchis of separatism, but Kordestan and Sistan-Baluchestan provinces have become symbols of unity representing the voice of the Iranian nation.
Esmaeilion talked about mechanisms to contact representatives of other groups and ethnicities in the united opposition front, highlighting that “this revolution will bear fruit with unity and hope.” "There is no room for despair,” he noted.
Boniadi addressed the artists and celebrities who have stood against the regime, saying that “you are our role model; we are with you, and we fight for you."