CHICAGO: The coalition of Iranian dissidents who are challenging the regime of President Ebrahim Raisi should have a seat at the UN to counter the government’s lies and support of terrorism, a leading pro-democracy activist argued Wednesday.
Dr. Ramesh Sepehrrad said the coalition led by the National Council of Resistance of Iran, or NCRI, have the most credibility and a vision on how to make the nation a democratic “non-nuclear sectarian republic,” replacing the extremist ayatollah-led movement.
Sepehrrad, chairperson of the advisory board of the Organization of Iranian American Communities, OIAC, said the UN should give the Iranian coalitions including the NCRI “formal recognition.” This would allow them to counter the “lies” from Raisi who addressed the UN General Assembly 77 on Wednesday.
“The National Council of Resistance of Iran, as far as we are concerned, it is a parliament in exile. They should be recognized by the UN. And they should be in fact be given the alternative voice to the people of Iran instead of the brutal regime and the terrorist regime whose only agenda is to acquire a nuclear weapon, and cause mayhem and establish its hegemonic role in the Middle East,” said Sepehrrad.
“So, I think this is absolutely the minimum that the UN can do in recognizing the parliament in exile and I think more importantly recognizing the right of the Iranian people to overthrow this regime. We the people of Iran ... deserve the right to overthrow this regime and we will. It is not like the people of Iran are waiting for this type of recognition to continue their campaign. But it is a test of time. It is a question for world leaders to stand on the right side of history with the people of Iran and its rightful resistance the National Council of Resistance versus the ceremonial standing by the brutal regime and people like Raisi who is going to be using the UN podium for its sinister agenda.”
The OIAC has 40 chapters that have helped make this past week’s protests at the UN against Raisi, during his first ever speech to the world body, “the biggest ever,” Sepehrrad said.
“They (anti-regime dissidents) have a very, very strong network inside Iran. In fact, the resistance unit inside Iran continues to grow year over year. I think with comparing 2022 to the previous year, it grew fivefold across all of the main cities and towns in Iran. And they continue to network with the broader segment of Iranian society and representing students, women especially, teachers’ union, labor movement, retired pensioners, a very strong representation from all sectors of society that are networked with the resistance units. It is only natural for them to have the largest turnout,” Sepehrrad said.
“This has been the group that has paid the heaviest price. Ebrahim Raisi is responsible for the 1988 massacre of political prisoners. In the summer of 1988, 30,000 political prisoners were executed under (Ayatollah) Khomeini’s fatwa. And Raisi was a part of the ‘Death Commission.’ Raisi is directly responsible and was engaged in crimes against humanity and genocide. So, this year in particular in our rally we are looking to not only holding the Iranian regime accountable but more importantly hold Raisi accountable.”
She said Raisi had ordered the execution of many political prisoners who had served their sentences and were scheduled for release, and he should not have been given the podium to speak at the UN.
Raisi was named as president of Iran last year by the ayatollahs and his presence has fueled and energized the largest gathering of protestors, both at the UN meeting that began last week, and also inside of Iran itself.
The protests were energized after a 22-year-old woman, Mahsa Amini, died in custody of the regime’s “Morality Police” after she was charged with violating a law that mandates the wearing of hijab by all women in public places.
Raisi’s government responded to the protestors in Iran with a violent crackdown that resulted in the killing of at least seven more civilians, Sepehrrad said.
Dissidents including 16 plaintiffs who are survivors or relatives of the victims have brought a lawsuit against Raisi in the Southern District of New York. A hearing is scheduled for Nov. 16, Sepehrrad said.
She added the lawsuit should be brought to the UN and prosecuted by the International Criminal Court, citing several lawsuits that have been filed against Raisi and Iran in the US, Sweden and England.
“I do foresee this to become like a culminating campaign in order to go into the ICC. This (the killings) is a war crime. To make matters worse. Some of the political prisoners had already finished their sentences and they should have been released,” Sepehrrad said.
“But the regime held them based on the fatwa that Khomeini issued. And Raisi was among the ‘Death Committee’ that essentially asked them would they denounce the MEK. And 90 percent of the victims were members of Iran’s main opposition group, the MEK. And they are still in the country and they have significant support outside of Iran. It was a simple question would they denounce the MEK and if the answer to that question was no, then they faced execution.”
The MEK is the underground opposition group that operates inside Iran and is known as the People’s Mojahedin Organization.
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