The international community must support Iran’s pro-democracy protesters and blacklist the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), more than 100 distinguished former world leaders representing 55 nations announced in a new global initiative. The call was made in a collective letter to the world powers, just days after the regime executed three protesters.
The collective letter by 123 former heads of state or government called on the leaders of Canada, the EU, UK, and US to hold the “leadership of the Islamic Republic of Iran to account for its crimes.”
“We encourage you to stand in solidarity with the people of Iran in their desire for a secular and democratic republic where no individual, regardless of religion or birthright, has any privilege over others. Through their slogans, the Iranian people have made it clear that they reject all forms of dictatorship, be it that of the deposed Shah or the current theocratic regime, and thus reject any association with either,” the open letter states.
“We believe it is for the Iranian people to decide their future. However, we recognise that for four decades, the democratic coalition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) has constantly and tirelessly pursued democratic change. In this respect, we believe the Ten-Point Plan articulated by the NCRI President, Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, deserves support. Its 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 our own democratic values,” the former world leaders wrote.
Signatories to the letter include 53 former Presidents, 58 former Prime Ministers, one former Chancellor, and nine other former Heads of State from across the world. A former UN Secretary General, a former President of the UN General Assembly, two former Presidents of the European Commission and three Nobel Peace Prize laureates are among the signatories.
European signatories to the letter include the former Prime Ministers of the UK, France, Italy, Poland, Spain, and Ukraine. In South America, signatories include the former Presidents of Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, and Mexico and two former Secretaries–General of the Organization of American States (OAS). Other notable signatories include former US Vice President Mike Pence and two former Prime Ministers from Canada.
Highlighting the crackdown on the “popular uprising in Iran,” which includes the death of some 750 protesters and the arrest of another 30,000, the former world leaders reiterated that the international community has a “responsibility” to support the Iranian people’s human rights.
“Decades of apparent silence and inaction by the international community have helped fuel a culture of impunity in Iran. Since the 1980s, the authorities in Iran have executed tens of thousands of protesters and political prisoners. Tragically, in the summer of 1988 alone, over 30,000 political prisoners – the vast majority of whom were members of the opposition MEK – were brutally massacred,” the letter said.
The signatories condemned 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.
“We urge your nations to stand with the Iranian people in their quest for change and to take decisive steps against the current regime. This includes blacklisting the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) and holding regime officials accountable for their crimes against humanity,” the letter added.
Former Belgian Prime Minister Mr. Guy Verhofstad was among the distinguished guests who participate in an international conference hosted by the National Council of Resistance of Iran in Auvers-sur-Oise on June 22.
Expressing gratitude to NCRI President-elect Mrs. Maryam Rajavi for the invitation, Mr. Verhofstad said: “I think it’s a very good moment to organize this conference at this moment when we have published an open letter on May 23, signed by no less than 109 former prime ministers, heads of state, political leaders. And let’s make that as the first conclusion of today is the very first time that so many politicians are united to call for a new approach, a radical new approach towards Iran. And with this letter that we send to the world leaders of today, we ask them, in fact, to change strategy and to take decisive steps against the current regime in Tehran.”
“300 civilians have been executed since the beginning of this year alone,” added the former Belgian Prime Minister, who is a signatory to a letter endorsed by 117 formed leaders in support of the Iranian people’s uprising and Resistance. “Last month, 142 innocent people were executed in Iran. That’s four murders a day by the regime. In 2022, nearly 600 people were executed in Iran. The clerics have the dubious honor of claiming that they have the highest number of executions in the world after China. That is the reality of today in Iran. And that comes in top of the many tens of thousands of deaths [executions] for which the regime should be held accountable since the 1980s. Not to forget the genocide that took place in the summer of 1988, where up to 30,000 innocent men and women have died a gruesome death.”
.@guyverhofstadt: We thought that we would get results by continuing to talk to these so-called moderates of the regime. We have to say today that this strategy & approach was wrong. In fact, there are no moderates in the regime of Iran. #FreeIran2023https://t.co/N2wllpOzzf— NCRI-FAC (@iran_policy) June 22, 2023
Rejecting negotiations with the murderous regime in Tehran, former Belgian PM added: “I think personally that is pretty pointless because the mullah’s regime excels in ignoring any commitment. They are further expanding their stockpiles of enriched uranium, while at the same time deepening their alliance with other dictatorships, with Russia, shipping hundreds of drones and equipment for the construction of the drone factory over there. So, in these circumstances, no concession for a nuclear deal is in fact acceptable and certainly not what is happening today, victimizing the Iranian people living in Ashraf.”
On the way forward, Mr. Verhofstad stated: “We need to significantly expand the list of individuals and organizations that are subject to sanctions in Iran today. There are only 216 individuals and 36 organizations under sanctions from the European Union; 260. My goal is to expand the list, to expand the list to all the architects of violence with their perpetrators and with their accomplices. So that concerns thousands of people, officials, civil servants, police officers, judges, prison guards and so on. That needs to be tackled if we want to change something in Iran.”
“I think it’s absolutely necessary that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and their paramilitary units who are responsible for the terror should be urgently blacklisted by the EU and all the 27 member states as a terrorist organization,” the former Belgian PM added. “The Iranian people and all democratic organizations in Iran and in exile have the knowledge, have the skills, have the courage, have the determination to turn their country into a modern democracy. And therefore, all initiatives such as Mrs. Rajavi’s Ten-Point Plan which include free elections, freedom of expression, abolition of death penalty, separation of church and state, gender equality, deserve our full support.”
“The best way to show our support to the Iranian people is to prepare the future, a future after the post-Mullah period, after 40 years of economic devastation and growing poverty. I think that these people deserve to live in a free country, but also to have the possibility to make a prosperous country, as it has always been the case. So, I truly hope that this open letter from May 23 that has been addressed to the world readers may be the start of a fundamental change in strategy and approach of the international community and that it can be the basis for a regained freedom of the Iranian people,” Mr. Verhofstad concluded.