Monday, June 22, 2009

Reza Pahlavi Speaks Out

Reza Pahlavi, son of the former shah of Iran, spoke to the National Press Club which is a couple floors above the Foreign Press Office. I flashed my State badge, pretended like a VIP and took a seat in the small audience of reporters from CNN and others. Mr. Pahlavi stood in front of the "Shahan-shahie" or shir o khorshid flag. The one with the lion holding a sword (seen here) which, I am told, is waved by Iranians who want to see the monarchy reinstated. I have also heard that there has been some divisions within the Iranian-American community about what path to take in Iran regarding political structure. These issues are discussed in the LA Times blog here.

Pahlavi spoke of how if the protests are put down it will lead to extremism and threaten economic stability. He charged the media audience not to underestimate the role they play in the outcome of the events going on in Iran. He stated that free media must fight the information blackout in Iran and inform their own leaders of the atrocities going on in the country. He often mentioned the Declaration of Human Rights, saying it "knows no boundaries." He stated that the had been in contact with. He talked of guards who got off their shifts and joined the protests when five hours earlier they were beating protesters and those in the Ahmadinijad regime who were contemplating the best way to "jump ship." He also noted reports that the regime was hiring outside forces, such as Hamas, to help quash the resistance.

No one benefits, he said, from "knives and cables cutting into the faces and mouths of our young and old, or from bullets piercing our beloved 'Neda', (a young woman who died on camera from a gun shot during an opposition protests in Iran, and has now become a face of the movement), and other victims of the violent crackdown on the protests. Pahlavi tried very hard not to get emotional but still shed some tears. The moment was very emotional and sincere, and was applauded by the media audience.

The focus of the media's questions, of course, focused on Obama's reaction to the events in Iran among widespread accusations of a too timid response. Pahlavi expressed very carefully that he was encouraged by Obama's recent words and stated a clear distinction between interfering in the Iran's matters and standing for human rights. The media pushed this issue repeat idly but Pahlavi didn't budge from the statement. He did state that non-violent movements seldom succeed without international support and that for the first time in Iranian history, the people have asked for international involvement.

When asked to address the Iran nuclear issue, Pahlavi said, "If I were there today, I would not feel safer if every country had nukes pointed at each other. I don't buy that argument."

Many questions focused on Pahlavi's plan for his role in a new government in Iran. There is some skepticism about Pahlavi's motives in campaigning for change in Iran, as the man who would now be Shah of Iran if it weren't for the 1979 Iranian Revolution. Pahlavi stated that if the people wanted him to run for office in a democratic, secular parliamentary system with a constitution based on the Declaration of Human Rights, he would of course. But insisted that the country was not at that point yet and until then, it was about the will of the people and human rights, not his future there.

Pahlavi announced that "a movement was born," "not an Islamic or anti-Islamic" movement, a"not capitalist or socialist" movement or part of any ideology, but a movements that "cares little about historical conflict" and all about the "sanctity of the ballet box." He charged Khameini with stealing the election and that the "citizens will not stand for it" and in the end "he will not stand" either.

No comments: