This week Paris will host the largest gathering of Iran’s pro-democracy forces ever assembled to overthrow the Islamic Regime through a nonviolent civil disobedience movement.
The Iran Solidarity Assembly (Hambastegi Melli in Persian) of Paris has been an enormous undertaking that has been three years in the making. Over 200 political luminaries will attend the invitation-only event. Millions of Iranians, however, will be following the proceedings with the help of Voice of America, Radio Farda, Radio Israel, BBC, and independent Iranian broadcasters such as Channel One, Pars TV, and Radio Sedaye Iran.
The Iran Solidarity Assembly includes representatives of virtually all of Iran’s various political, ethnic, social, and economic groups who have assembled together for the first time ever to ask the free world to stand in solidarity with them as they begin to coordinate the efforts of pro-democracy forces inside Iran to over throw the Islamic regime.
The attendees include representatives of many political stripes: socialists, liberal democrats, republicans, federalists, as well as those who support a parliamentary monarchy similar to those of Spain, Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. All in all, over 35 political parties will attend from all of Iran’s ethnic groups, including the Kurds. Many of the group’s supporters were behind the Iran referendum movement that encouraged (unsuccessfully) the ostensible reformer Mohammad Khatami to hold a plebiscite on the continuing existence of the Islamic Republic.
Many social and economic groups from Iran have struggled in isolation to protect the very limited rights and freedoms that they have left. The Iran Solidarity Assembly hopes to unify and coordinate women, students, ethnic and religious minorities, former political prisoners, teachers, journalists and bloggers, dissident clerics, civil-rights attorneys, unionists, and doctors and nurses.
Together, they can organize an independent, homegrown, grassroots civil-disobedience movement and reach a critical mass to force change in Iran.
Iran Solidarity will seek to address the desire of the overwhelming number of Iranians for freedom by unveiling a credible, all-inclusive leadership that will, for the first time, provide the people of Iran with an alternative that they can believe in and fight for. Iranians do not want Ahmadinejad and theocratic rule. But they have never been presented with an alternative that they can support and fight for. Iran Solidarity will change that.
The free world has been faced with two undesirable options: war, or appeasing a nuclear-armed terrorist state that wishes to destroy the world. The people of Iran are presenting the world with a third choice: a secular democratic Iran living in peace with its neighbors and the world.
— Pooya Dayanim is the president of the U.S.-based Iranian Jewish Public Affairs Committee (IJPAC).