Prince Reza Pahlavi, the heir to the former shah of Iran, says the very nature of today’s Iran is against reforms. Speaking in an exclusive interview with Radio Farda, Pahlavi describes the overhaul that is needed in the country.
“The nature of the Islamic Regime in Iran is against any reform. Iran needs an overall change; all Iranians want change, and it is time for change,” Pahlavi said. “The Green Movement in 2009 was a clear reflection of the fact that the people of Iran were, and still are, quite unhappy with the Islamic regime and its constitution. They wanted change. Millions of people were shouting in the streets of Tehran, addressing the U.S. president, ‘Obama, are you with us or with the regime?’ ”
Reza Pahlavi goes on to say that the climate for change is different now.
“Obama and his team’s excuse was based on the claim that the prominent figures of the Green Movement never asked them for any help,” Pahlavi said. “[Obama is not in the White House anymore]; today the situation has changed.”
However, the prince-in-exile did not elaborate on what he means by saying “the situation has changed.”
According to him, the real reason behind the Green Movement’s failure was the fact that its prominent figure, former Prime Minister Mir Hossein Mousavi, campaigned for the presidency in 2009 on a platform of promoting and praising the so-called Golden Age of Imam.
“Yet, the people saw nothing golden” in the age of Imam, referring to ayatollah Rouhollah Khomeini, the leader of the 1979 Iranian Revolution and the founder of the subsequent Islamic Republic, Pahlavi continued.
“Today, the situation has changed. Iranians are asking the whole world to hear their voices; the voices that reflect their deep desire for democracy, freedom, and liberty. The people of Iran are ready today to take the helping hands stretched toward them. Today, Iran is not the same as it was in 2009.”
ON RECENT ELECTION
When asked about last week’s presidential election, Pahlavi says he wouldn’t even use that word to describe what took place.
“All of Iran’s elections have been a spectacle, a mere show intended to deceive the world and sell the Iranian regime as a legitimate system where the people can freely vote and elect their representatives, in its framework,” he said.
“But how can one call an election free, democratic, and healthy when the candidates are arbitrarily filtered by the Guardian Council? How can an election be fair and just when you can only vote for the candidates approved by the ruling clique? This spectacle has been going on for ages but nobody believes it. Choosing between two candidates, one bad and the other worse, is not a real election,” he continued.
The questions Iranians should be asking themselves, the former prince maintained, is that if the regime is in fact supported by the majority, why it does not allow free elections?
“A fair, democratic, and free election needs free media, free political parties, free and nongovernmental unions,” he said.
The much-needed reforms can only be possible, Pahlavi said, when the current Iranian constitution itself is changed -- something even the “so-called reformists” have shied away from under the shadow of an absolute, unelected leader.
“One should differentiate between reform and reform play-acting,” he said. “The Islamic regime will never provide such an opportunity [as changing the constitution]. As a matter of fact, the so-called reformists in Iran have always emphasized that they do not intend to change the constitution. So, people should be asking them just what they to plan to achieve through their reformist policy.”
Ultimately what is needed, Pahlavi insisted, is a complete regime change -- but a peaceful one.
“I would never ask people to sacrifice their lives unnecessarily,” he said. “Iran can reach its democratic goals through civil disobedience, nonviolent and peaceful actions. We should only wait for the right moment.”
Pahlavi says that a lot of people, and youth in particular, have reached out to him, asking when he will return to Iran.
“There are also many members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, IRGC, as well as military personnel who are against the current situation; the ones who are armed,” he said. “But they will never use their guns against their own brothers and sisters. They yearn to return to the arms of the nation. We should create the necessary atmosphere for them to do so.”
In a notable statement, Pahlavi added, “I am the leader of this school of thought: change through nonviolent civil disobedience.”
“The only system capable of guaranteeing people their rights is a democratic and secular system. In the framework of a secular and democratic regime, the rights of all people, including different ethnicities and minorities, will be respected,” he said.
“A system that divides people into insiders and outsiders or us and them will not survive forever.”