Some 1,000 Iranian-American dissidents will gather in Washington, D.C., on Saturday to demand freedom and democracy in Iran at a critical juncture in U.S. relations with the brutal, theocratic regime in Tehran.
The 2018 Iran Freedom Convention for Democracy and Human Rights will open, as President Trump is considering whether to scrap the Iran nuclear deal negotiated by former President Obama. Mr. Trump has repeatedly denounced the deal as a show of weakness that pumped $150 billion into the tottering economy of the world’s number one sponsor of terrorism.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this week provided more evidence for Mr. Trump to justify a withdrawal from the deal by revealing 100,000 secret documents from Iran that showed the regime lied when it denied it was trying to develop a nuclear weapon.
Ross Amin, president of the Organization of Iranian American Communities US, said repression is growing, as the economy continues to falter.
“The economy is near collapse. Executions are on the rise. The crackdown on dissidents has intensified. International and regional push against the regime is also rising,” he said.
As the regime’s brutality grows, protests against the theocratic government are increasing.
“Despite the arrest of more than 8,000 and murder of nearly 50 protesters, the demonstrations are continuing. They include all sectors of society — women, youth, workers, farmers, and ethnic and religious minorities,” Mr. Amin said.
The convention’s keynote speakers — former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, a Republican, and former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Bill Richardson, a Democrat — demonstrate the bipartisan support for promoting freedom in Iran. Members of Congress from both political parties are also expected to speak at the convention.
According to the organizers, Maryam Rajavi, president-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), will deliver remarks in a video message.
They will address delegates from Iranian-American communities in 40 states, including scholars, artists, advocates for women’s civil rights who will attend the 2018 Iran Freedom Convention for Democracy and Civil Rights.
Several of the delegates are former political prisoners in Iran or victims of political, religious and ethnic persecution. A significant participation by the younger generation Iranian-Americans is expected at the Convention this year, as the gathering focuses on hope and prospects for change in Iran.
The convention goal is the peaceful transition of power to a democratic government from the theocratic regime that violently took over Iran in 1979. The participant focus on a future government that would be secular, pluralistic, gender-equality based, and a non-nuclear republic.
The most significant nuclear revelations about the Iranian sites has consistently come from the Iranian dissidents, the NCRI, which exposed the nuclear sites in Natanz, Arak, and Fordow and the nuclear infrastructure known as SPND tasked with weaponization of the program. These revelations led to the inspections of the Iranian nuclear sites since 2003 by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
“The convention will voice its rejection of any policy to either appease the ruling regime or go to war with it,” Mr. Amin said.
“The convention will, instead, advocate for a U.S. policy in support of the democracy movement inside Iran, as the only viable agent of change, emphasizing regime change by the Iranian people and the organized opposition.”
• James Morrison is a former deputy foreign editor of The Washington Times. He used to write Embassy Row column, a diplomatic news column primarily focusing on foreign ambassadors in the United States and U.S. ambassadors abroad for The Washington Times.