Thursday, 12 November 2009

Support Iran’s opposition forces

By Mark Williams MP

Thousands of young Iranians last week defied state warnings and took to the streets demanding regime change.  At the same time, Western leaders turned a blind eye yet again to the failure by Iran to accept a UN-brokered deal to send its enriched uranium abroad for processing to defuse international concern over its nuclear weapons projects.

The most daring chants by the Iranians were directed at Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on the day which marked the 30th anniversary of the 4 November 1979 US embassy takeover by hardliners loyal to the clerical regime. This was a direct challenge to the ruling theocracy from a people frustrated by 30 years of suppression and international isolation. The authorities reacted by opening fire on protestors and using teargas.

University campuses were also a hotbed of anti-government protests, with students chanting slogans against the regime at Tehran and Sharif universities and elsewhere.

The Iranians also had a clear message for the West: We will stand up to our oppressors with or without you.

Since the sham elections in the summer which saw Mahmoud Ahmadinejad retain power despite widespread allegations of fraud, Western leaders have all too easily endorsed the illegitimate regime in the name of pragmatic negotiations with the mullahs over their nuclear programme. Tehran however has used the endorsement to brutally suppress dissent in the name of combating troublemakers and to advance in its nuclear proliferation with greater belligerence. But public opposition to the ruling theocracy continues to grow.

Iranian websites report that during a meeting between Khamenei and students in Tehran on 28 October, when the Supreme Leader said that questioning the disputed June vote was the "biggest crime", one student from Sharif University openly criticized the Iranian leader and the "cycle of power" in Iran for at least 20 minutes.

Iranian opposition leader in exile Mrs. Maryam Rajavi says the regime, unable to quell public dissent and overcome its internal rift, wants to obtain the nuclear bomb as the only means for its survival. To this end, she argues, the mullahs will never abandon their nuclear projects.

This week the Iranian opposition revealed further evidence of the secret efforts by the regime to construct a nuclear warhead and urged the international community to act.

We do not have four more years to further placate the regime in the hope that it will one day reverse course. The mullahs aren’t after a deal; they are after time to build a bomb.

Now is the time for Europe and the UN Security Council to get tough on Tehran. We must press for comprehensive diplomatic, technological, arms and oil sanctions on the regime. And we must support the millions of Iranians who want democratic change.

Mark Williams is Member of Parliament for Ceredigion 


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