January 17, 2018

Voice of America’s Live interview with Nasser Rashidi

VOA Host: Normally at this point in the program we pose a question to the listeners and ask them to respond to us within 30 minutes. Since you have not heard the question yet and are here as our guest and expert, let me ask you the same thing: “The committee for the defense of Political prisoners Koln branch held an event on Saturday December 10th honoring the International Human Rights Day. One of the speakers at this event stated: “Iran does not need an Islamic Republic, it only needs the observation of human rights.” Do you agree with this statement? Please elaborate for us.

Nasser Rashidi: I don’t know who the speaker was but he correctly stated the human rights issue at hand. The Iranian regime’s history of the violations of human rights is very well known in the international community. As far as the Iranian people are concerned, they have experienced these violations first hand. There is a very interesting point in the United Nations third committee resolution that passed on November 17th condemning the violation of human rights by the Iranian regime

Host: You mean the resolution set forward by Canada and a number of other countries?

Rashidi: The interesting part of the resolution which is different than what I have seen before is pointing to “change in behavior” and “change in the laws” of this government. Changing the laws requires a change in the characteristics of this regime which is not possible unless we have a regime change. Recognizing human rights is against the very nature of this regime and will not happen unless there is a regime change. The Iranian people know this fact too well.

VOA Host: Mr. Rashidi, as you are aware the Universal Declaration of Human Rights passed 57 years ago in December of 1948 and Iran is one of the signatories to this declaration. This declaration has a preamble and 30 articles. Article 30 of the declaration states that: “Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein.” How do you assess the Iranian regime with regards to this article?

Nasser Rahidi: Let me give you an example. This anti-human regime is the enemy of all the Iranian people. The regime has committed enormous crimes against our Kurdish, Turkish, Arab citizens and also against the religious minorities including Jewish, Christian and Zoroastrians. The Mullahs attribute any resistance in Kurdistan and Khuzestan to the foreigners which is sheer lies. The Arab, Kurdish and Turkish people of Iran like any other group or even more than others (since they have been oppressed further) are opposed to this regime. I am stressing on the ethnic and religious minorities because the regime has abused and violated their most basic human rights and has denied their minimum rights; it has accused them of being foreign agents because they are standing up for their rights; and forcing to convert other people since your religion is different. These facts have been reported widely in the news in the past 2-3 months.

Host: Yes, I am aware and we will try to have more programs concerning this issue. We have a listener from Iran on the phone. Let me say hello to Mr. Movahedi who has spent time in Iranian prisons recently and ask him to talk about his ordeal. Please go ahead.

Listener from Iran: I applaud you and the rest of your listeners who supported me and other political prisoners during my one month in Iranian jails. On the occasion of the International human rights day we are very concerned about the political prisoners in Iran and their deteriorating health and physical situation. Ahmadinejad’s recent declarations along with security alerts in Israel and the Sunday Times article about Israel preparing to attack Iran in March has increased the suppression of political prisoners. Ahmadinejad’s statements are not without a purpose. He intends to provoke Israel therefore to create the dangerous atmosphere within the country in order to increase the suppression of dissent.The Taleban-like mentality of the regime has resulted in an increase of the repression of dissidents. We are really concerned. There are news reports that the families of political prisoners have been prevented from meeting with them. We are asking for help from the progressive religious forces and the human rights organizations. We hope they won’t stay silent and tell the stories of the atrocities afterwards like what Ayatollah Montazeri did during the massacre of 1988. We request that religious leaders such as Mr. Sanei and others assist us. We request assistance from Mrs. Shirin Ebadi and human rights organizations inside and outside the country. The international pressure always works. Let us bring the issue of the political prisoners to the forefront and stand up against the injustice imposed on them. In the society, there is an atmosphere of repression t that would result in increased violence against dissidents and activists.

VOA Host: Mr. Rashidi you just heard what Mr. Movahedi had to say. What is your reaction? Do you think people such as Shirin Ebadi and Ayatollah Sanei whom he referred could make any substantial changes in Iran?

Nasser Rashidi: Mr. Biparva let me first applaud the political prisoners from your radio and tell them that our coalition supports all of them no matter what their political view is. Undoubtedly, their resistance is a torch in this darkness. The truth is that this regime has declared war against the Iranian people with bringing out Ahmadinejad from the election boxes. Ahmadinejad comes to enforce the revolutionary guards ideology in the system. This regime is incapable of changing its behavior towards the people when it comes to respecting their human rights. This regime must execute and hang. It does not matter if Rafsanjani or Khatami or Ahmadinejad is in power. How could we prevent these? Naturally with exposing the crimes of the regime as political prisoners are doing. But to change this regime we need to act full force. Those who think this regime could reform from within or they could have a human rights dialogue with them are mistaken. It is a mistake to look inside this regime for a solution to the human rights problem. There must be a change. Those who believe in regime change have different capabilities and various potentials. They all need to get together and join our coalition. WE invite everyone with all political views except those from within this system and the previous regime which was brought down by the Iranian people in 1979. We could stand up together like those students who have raised their voices against this regime and we can bring about change.

VOA Host: Mr. Rashidi, we now have a listener from Shiraz on the line. I say hello to Mr. Ebrahim from Shiraz and listen to what he has to say and then I will ask you a question about what you just said.

Listener from Shiraz: I have to say that we are glad that our President has said “Israel must be wiped off the map” and “If Europeans are too concerned about the Jews, they should move Israel to Europe”. We are actually very happy that he announces his rhetoric in different occasions. He is revealing the true nature of himself and his regime to the world. I would like to request from Mr. El-Baradei and other international officials to stand firm with regards to Iran and North Korea. As you know there are people in the world who would destroy the human race if they happen to have weapons of mass destruction. Please pay attention to these issues.

VOA Host: Thanks so much to Mr. Ebrahim from Shiraz, the city of love and arts. Please call us again. Go on please Mr. Nasser.

Listener from Iran: Is there any country in the world that does not have political prisoners? If the countries that are signatories to the declaration of human rights do not abide by it, could they be tried? Also, could the IAEA really send the country to the UN Security Council?

Nasser Rashidi: To answer his first question, imprisoning anyone in any country for their belief is totally wrong. We are against it. No country should have political prisoners. We should note though in Iran we are talking about execution of more than 100000 political prisoners. Where could you find such statistics? We are talking about hanging, execution and amputation of hands and fingers by this regime on the false justification of social ills. We are talking about public hanging. Where do you see this kind of systematic violations of human rights? That is exactly why this regime has been condemned 52 times by the United Nations. The general consensus among all of us including your listeners is that imprisoning people for what they believe is wrong. Holding political prisoners is not right no matter if it is in the United States, China or Iran. Our specific discussion is about Iran. We are talking about an inhumane regime that brings Ahmadinejad to power. It is very wrong to assume what Ahmadinejad is saying is idiotic. This is not just Ahmadinejad but the whole regime that is taking these positions on the issues. This is the whole inhumane regime that is talking and as Mr. Ramesh says wants to even change the map of the world.

Listener from Iran (Rahimi): I would like to ask your guest how successful have the human rights organizations been so far? Have the human rights organizations done a thing about those who dropped atomic bombs on the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki? About those who massacred in Serbia and Rwanda? About those who shot down the Iranian airplane, attacked Iraq, gave the gift of aids to humanity and made atomic bombs? Have the human rights organizations checked the crisis of trade in human beings in the Persian Gulf countries? You can only accuse Iran? How successful do you think you have been so far?

VOA Host: Let me first ask Mr. Rashidi about a point he mentioned on the coalition. After that we will respond to your question if we still have time. My question is that in your talk about the National coalition you left out the monarchists and said that the people of Iran voted them down in 1979. Do you think after 27 years the youth in Iran can make a decision on whether they want monarchy? And what if they vote for it? What do you think if this happens? Now Mr. Movahedi, you go first and we will listen to Mr. Rashidi after you are finished.

Listener from Iran: I will very briefly tell the listener who was talking about human rights that they filmed me during my imprisonment. When in Iran they film the interrogation of a prisoner after a heart attack and on the hospital bed, do you still expect us to accuse other countries of human rights violations? Do we even see this kind of behavior in the Nazi Germany?

Nasser Rashidi: As I mentioned to you we want a republic system of government and therefore we talk within our framework.

VOA Host: I do understand what you said. But if the majority of the young generation wants a non-republic system of government, how would you react?

Nasser Rashidi: We definitely should respect the vote of the majority. The reality of Iranian society is different. The Iranians want a republic form of government where no one from this regime has a part in it.

VOA Host: Mr. Rashidi, thank you for being with us. I hope to invite you again to our program in the near future.