Interview by Parviz Hashimli
Editor-in-chief of Gununsesi.info in the Republic of Azerbaijan
August 3, 2023
Mr. Stevenson, I would like to first thank you for accepting this interview.
1.You are a politician who constantly follows the issue of Iran. I want your opinion about the latest Free Iran World Summit in Paris. What was the central message of this gathering? Tell us about the participating personalities. And, in your view, what was different about this year’s summit compared to the previous years?
The importance of the Free Iran World Summit in Paris this year was significant, as it served to break the wall of silence from the international community that for decades has provided the tyrannical Iranian regime with a sense of impunity. Indeed, the summit so enraged the mullahs that they put enormous pressure on the west’s main appeasers, President Macron of France and President Joe Biden of America, both of whom are foolishly conspiring to resurrect the zombie nuclear deal and lift sanctions on Iran. Following a 90-minute phone conversation with President Ebrahim Raisi, the so called ‘Butcher of Tehran’, Macron was behind the move to ban the proposed National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) mass Rally in Paris – a ban that was successfully overturned in the French courts. Meanwhile, Biden, who has undue influence through the anti-corruption organization SPAK in Albania, was behind the outrageous attack by more than 1,000 police on Ashraf 3, the compound housing over 3,000 dissident Iranian refugees, supporters of the NCRI. The SPAK agents and police used tear gas, pepper spray and rubber batons. One of the Ashrafi refugees was killed and many more were hospitalized. This was a disgraceful breach of international law and justice and was the manifestation of fawning appeasement by the American and French presidents – appeasement that they have done in the face of the massive international support that has been achieved for the NCRI and MEK and which was evident at the Paris Summit. It was this open acknowledgement of the legitimacy and magnitude of the main democratic opposition movement to the mullahs that marked out the Paris Summit as ground-breaking, in contrast to previous summits.
2. Simultaneous with this summit, we witnessed the support of 124 former leaders and 3,600 legislators in 61 parliaments from 40 countries, including 29 parliamentary majorities, for the Iranian people’s desire to establish a democratic Iran and for Mrs. Maryam Rajavi’s Ten-point Plan to establish a democratic Iran. Please explain this to us.
Worldwide, a statement championing the NCRI and the Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK) and their right and the right of the Iranian people to overthrow their corrupt and brutal regime, has gained the support of more than 3,600 MPs, and senators, including a majority in the US Congress, Italy, the Netherlands, Iceland, Norway, France, Slovenia, the UK and many more. The statement was also signed by 124 former world leaders, including 52 former Presidents, 54 former Prime Ministers, one former Chancellor, and nine other former Heads of State from across the world. Two former Presidents of the European Commission and three Nobel Peace Prize laureates were also among those who signed. Mike Pence, former US Vice President added his signature and attended in person the Summit in Paris, as did many hundreds of the eminent signatories. Those who signed the statements have shown their outright support for Mrs Maryam Rajavi, President-elect of the NCRI, and her 10-point plan as a blueprint for Iran’s future, built upon the pillars of democracy, human rights, and the rule of law, within a secular and democratic republic. It is a platform on which I would be proud to stand as a parliamentary candidate.
Of course, to counter this groundswell of international support, the mullahs’ regime has gone into overdrive to spread abusive and offensive propaganda about this initiative and about the NCRI and MEK, labelling them as extremist organizations and even trying to issue an international indictment against them in an absurd attempt to involve Interpol. From a regime that is a serial abuser of women’s rights, human rights, and the rule of law, this is risible. Since the most recent nationwide uprising in Iran began in September last year, the clerical regime has struggled to restore order, facing the dawning realization that it may never succeed in doing so. Women, who have been at the forefront of the protests, continue to resist despite the repression and threats of increasingly draconian punishments. The protests continue sporadically in open defiance of the brutal crackdown, which has left more than 750 people dead, 30,000 arrested and precipitated a huge surge of executions by the regime, designed to terrorize the dissenters. 200 people, including several women, were executed last month alone.
3. The above personalities called for the prosecution of the Iranian regime leaders, holding them accountable for committing crimes against humanity in 1988 when 30,000 political prisoners were massacred on Khomeini’s order, 90% of whom were members of the People’s Mojahedin Organization. One of the Free Iran World Summit conferences this year also focused on the massacre of 30,000 political prisoners. In your opinion, what is the obligation of the United Nations and the international community regarding this crime, and what action should they take?
Thirty-five years ago this month, a crime against humanity began in Iran. In a tempest of savagery that has not been surpassed since the end of the Second World War, the fascist theocracy began the systematic execution of political prisoners. Within months they had hanged over 30,000 men and women, mostly members and supporters of the People’s Mojahedin of Iran PMOI/MEK, the main democratic opposition to the mullahs. They were murdered on the orders of the psychotic Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, a man who claimed to be the voice of God on Earth! Khomeini instructed that the executions should be carried out in haste and that even pregnant women should not be spared. The show trials lasted for no more than 3 minutes and consisted of the prisoners being asked the question “Do you support the PMOI/MEK?” If they answered ‘Yes’, they were marched to the prison gymnasium and hanged in batches of six. Young men and women who had been released from prison after serving sentences for supporting the PMOI/MEK were dragged back before the summary courts, sentenced to death and hanged. The bodies of the 30,000 murdered martyrs were buried in secret graves. Their families were forbidden from speaking about their deaths.
Monstrous acts of butchery like this have become grisly milestones in the history of oppression and tyranny in contemporary Iran and even the death of Khomeini brought no respite. His successor, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has presided over a regime that now executes more people per capita than any other country in the world. Iran has become the Godfather of terror, and an international sponsor of terrorism.
It is the duty of the UN to examine this case and bring its masterminds and perpetrators to justice. Instead, Western appeasement has been compounded by the news that the UN Human Rights Council Social Forum in Geneva, intends to appoint an ambassador from Iran’s theocratic fascist regime as their chair in November and the UN Security Council has appointed a representative of the mullahs’ regime as one of its Vice Presidents. These appointments make a mockery of the universal declaration of human rights and international conventions, given that Iran is the leading violator of these principles. The time has come to pull down the curtain on this murderous regime. The mullahs must be held to account in the international criminal courts. After 44 years of tyranny, the Iranian regime’s time is up. The mullahs and their Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei must now face justice.
4. What is the situation in Iran? There was a significant upheaval last year. What was the role of the MEK? The clerical regime maintained its grip on power only through severe repression. How do you see the prospects?
The nationwide uprising has swept across Iran since September 2022, where millions of Iranians have taken to the streets to demand regime change and the restoration of freedom and democracy. The theocratic regime’s brutal crackdown on the protests has led so far to 750 deaths and 30,000 arrests. In a killing frenzy aimed at terrorizing the Iranian population, the mullahs’ regime has now unleashed a wave of executions.
As it seems that nothing Western nations have done in the past has altered the egregious behavior of the theocratic regime, I am certain that the best way to indicate support for the people of Iran will be for the EU and UK to blacklist the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC). Sanctions are clearly not enough. The prevailing arguments in Brussels and London that the IRGC is a government institution and cannot therefore be blacklisted as a terrorist organization are not valid. The IRGC was listed as a foreign terrorist organization by the US under President Trump and the same should be done here.
5. Most speakers at the Free Iran World Summit considered the Iranian regime to be at its weakest point ever. They called the Iranian Resistance the only alternative to the regime. What is your opinion in this regard, and what are your reasons?
The Iranian economy is in plummeting decline. Spiraling inflation, currently at 43.4%, and a collapsing currency, have combined with tough western sanctions to bring the country to a virtual standstill. Food prices, have suffered massive spikes over the past year, including a 125% increase for meat, 250% for onions, 82% for eggs, and 78% for rice. The active Iranian work force is 26 million, of whom at least 10 million were jobless even before the Covid pandemic. Youth unemployment is at a staggering 40%. At least 60% of the population are living in poverty, unable to meet their essential daily needs.
Combined with the mullah’s own venal corruption and regional warmongering, it is little wonder that the country with the world’s second largest gas reserves and fourth largest crude oil reserves is now facing economic meltdown. Iran, despite its once rich, civilized and open culture, has become an international pariah, its religious fascist regime condemned for human rights abuse and the export of terror, while its 85 million beleaguered citizens struggle to feed their families.
Now, the nationwide protests which began last September, have spread from the main cities to rural towns and villages, uniting the impoverished working classes with hard-up middle-income earners, whose chants of “death to the dictator” and “death to Khamenei”, clearly signify the burgeoning demand for regime change. Facing the imminent demise of his dictatorship, Khamenei has clearly panicked, even siding with Vladimir Putin in the Ukraine war, exporting thousands of Iranian Kamikaze drones to Russia.
6. What is the global and regional responsibility concerning the Iranian people’s desire to overthrow the mullahs’ regime in Iran?
As the clerical regime enters its terminal phase, it is high time for the world to take concrete measures to hold the mullahs accountable for their appalling human rights violations. Iranians must be allowed to exercise their fundamental human rights without fear of reprisal. We must stand in solidarity with the people of Iran in their desire for a secular and democratic republic where no individual, regardless of religion or birth-right, has any privilege over others. The global community must support the NCRI’s commitment to free elections, freedom of assembly and expression, abolition of the death penalty, gender equality, separation of religion and state, autonomy for Iran’s ethnicities, and a non-nuclear Iran is in line with Western democratic values. We must condemn the Iranian regime’s meddling in the Middle East and Europe, including its provision of drones to assist Russia’s war against Ukraine and its terrorist attempts and cyber-attacks in Albania. The democratic nations of the world must stand with the Iranian people in their quest for change and must assist them in taking decisive steps against the current regime, including blacklisting the IRGC and holding regime officials accountable for their crimes against humanity.
7. You have expertise in the Iranian regime’s interferences in the Middle East and its support for terrorism. We are witnessing the Iranian regime’s threats and terrorist actions against Azerbaijan. What should Europe and the US do to support Azerbaijan against these conspiracies? And how can peace, security, and progress be restored to this region of the world?
Azerbaijan shares a 700 km border with Iran and tensions have ramped up in recent months leading to fears they could escalate into open conflict. Much of the trouble between Iran and Azerbaijan is rooted in the 44-day war in Nagorno-Karabakh between Azerbaijan and Armenia in 2020. The Iranian regime is also concerned at their arch enemy Israel’s presence in the Caucasus as a major arms supplier to Azerbaijan. There have also been ongoing disputes where Iran has accused Azerbaijan of imposing restrictions on Iranian trucks using a road, previously connecting Armenia and Iran, that was seized by Azerbaijan following the 2020 war. Joint military exercises hosted by Azerbaijan, involving Turkey and Pakistan, have apparently provoked Tehran further. As with all instances of Iranian meddling in the Middle East, such as their backing for Bashar al-Assad’s bloody civil war in Syria, their support for the Houthi rebels in Yemen and the brutal Shi’ite militias in Iraq, as well as their sponsorship of the terrorist Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza, the ultimate solution for peace in the region is the overthrow of the theocratic, mullahs’ regime.