Ardavan Roozbeh / Radio Koocheh
Translated by Avideh Motmaen-Far
Part of this interview has been questions asked by the audiences of Radio Koocheh from Mr. “Pahlavi”. If you have any questions of the interviewee, you can ask him by sending them to: firstname.lastname@example.org
If we want to have an overview of the royal family in Iran, we can have two perspectives considering the positions of this last Iranian Prince, ” Reza Pahlavi ”. The Heir to the crown, that advocates of monarchy refer to for more than three decades, or the political activist with secular ideas looking for democracy.
This Iranian Prince, in recent years, has been the subject of discussions of different groups. Sometimes from the Royalists perspective and sometimes from the critics of monarchy. But what is obvious, and according to his own statements, he does not consider himself as the absolute heir of the monarchy that should be restored at any price in Iran.
After the tenth presidential elections in Iran, his presence in the political arena is mostly evident. A Prince photographed with his green bracelet who clearly introduces himself as a supporter of a secular and democratic movement. He condemned the attack to the Camp Ashraf residents of the MKO dissidents, who were opponents to the last king of Iran, his father.
But arguments about him and against him continue, some want him to comment about the last king of Iran and others clearly considers him as someone who did not respect the position of a “Prince”. But it seems that Reza Pahlavi with his presence in the media and his emphasis on his ideas has his own policy. He does not criticize the past, and does not insist on it neither. But in one of his interviews, he underlines that “the time for one person ruling a country is over.”.
Maybe some, after three decades, prefer that nobody talks about a person who is the heir to a royal system and others find that the current movement is the share of “reformers” who insist on the presence of active elements in the current ruling system body and not a change in the form of the ruling system.
Ultimately, what is obvious today, is the presence of “Reza Pahlavi” actively in the movement of protest against the Islamic Republic as “Reza Pahlavi” and not as ”Prince Reza Pahlavi”, who should systematically be the Heir to the throne in Iran.
We sat down and talked. I asked him about how people consider his return to Iran, and emphasizing that this question is premature, he pointed out that “people will decide what my role will be, either as a protagonist or an ordinary citizen.” This is what he has always referred to in his other interviews.
The following interview contains in part, questions coming from the audience of Radio Koocheh and Ardavan Roozbeh’s questions of “Reza Pahlavi”. Reza Pahlavi who invites his followers to participate in a national reconciliation and emphasizes that it does not mean that people from the executive body of the current state can not join us. Approach to free elections, collective wisdom, secularism against the religion state and national reconciliation that includes those that are in the body of the current ruling system today, are the points he discusses with Radio Koocheh.
At first I would like to know about your position about what happened within recent days, as you know, based on an agreement between Iran and Iraq, there is the chance of extradition of MKO members to Iran. You have been one of the first to condemn the attack on Camp Ashraf. According to the policy of the government of the United States since 2009 that handed the Camp Ashraf to the Iraqi government and their condition of undecided fate, What kind of problems do you think this extradition can bring to this Camp members and basically what kind of policy is followed?
At first, allow me to address my greetings to my compatriots inside and outside of Iran and to your audience and again thank you for the opportunity of this interview. I can not guess exactly the details of the policy of the Iraqi government associated with the members of MKO currently present in Iraq, or have any particular information about the conditions that you have already expressed. But in general, what I wanted to say is that from the perspective of human rights issues, today, to no one, especially to our compatriots, it is not complicated that these people have rights as humans.
Extradition of anyone who is publicly or indirectly in a struggle with this regime, will constitute a serious threat of torture, and a thousand kind of problems or even death. What unfortunately the Islamic Republic has always done to its own people all these years and still does. Therefore it is important that in this case, that all the governments concerned be aware of the terrible and serious consequences of such act. I think this will have a very negative effect not only on public opinion in the world but also especially on our compatriots opinion.
Where the freedom fighters, today, in all the countries of the region are busy fighting for their rights, expect support and above all protection. We see this today in Libya. If these things are not respected, it definitely indicates the lack of implementation of a clear policy and even worse, a kind of political hypocrisy. Especially this fact that goes back to human rights and protection of the natural rights of individuals regardless of their political views and thoughts.
Do you think that trends and developments that we see happening in the region, the events in Syria, Yemen and elsewhere, have a message for the Islamic Republic of Iran?
I see this more in the concept of a generation that has emerged in the world today, especially in the region and no longer can tolerate the current situation with totalitarian governments and regimes that do not allow full political freedoms, ranging from Libya, Yemen, Syria and Tunisia. This demand however ancient, they have updated it today very clearly. They are of different nationalities, but we see freedom demands in the region all over.
I think that after thirty years and the Cold War, maintaining the situation as it was at that time, and how the world was divided, is neither no longer justified, nor tolerated by these countries and their citizens. However, the policy of support of these movements will have a powerful impact to convey the massage to these and other authoritarian and repressive governments specially to the Islamic Republic. The consequences of these developments if led positively, will be very disturbing to the Tehran’s regime.
Do you think that the Islamic Republic may help the totalitarian governments to prevent these events?
The Islamic Republic may want to make believe that but I do not think they would really do it. If you ask an Egyptian today, whether they are going to be affected by the Islamic Republic’s trap. I think many of these people are very careful even though they are involved with their own government, especially in the countries that are closer to us.
If you ask an Egyptian today, whether they are going to be affected by the Islamic Republic’s trap. I think many of these people are very careful even though they are involved with their own government, especially in the countries that are closer to us.
So I do not think that people are not aware of the game and tactics and methods the regime has used all these years, not just in creating instability or confusion in few countries, either in Kabul or Baghdad and other areas including Lebanon and Palestine and elsewhere. It remains now the fact that the regime will try to do something here and there I think that should not distract everyone, and they should stay focused on this issue and not be trapped and on the other hand, I do not think that what the regime will try, to be enough or they can take advantage of it directly, especially if the result is a political requisition. Whether in Bahrain, Yemen or other countries.
Allow me to focus on the Islamic Republic of Iran and the events that happened in Iran. Since the election’s aftermath in 2009, various groups have been associating with people inside, we see that this kind of new flows in this new year, some of these groups outside of Iran get closer to the events inside Iran. Do you think the green movement in Iran has been enthusiast of this alliances?
It depends on how all political forces deal with it considering that the Iranians tried to find opportunities, even with the restrictions the regime prevails, to find circumstances and excuses to gather and to express demands, expecting freedom, sovereignty and rights to vote freely. From this point of view, the movement that became known as the Green Movement, in my opinion is far beyond a electoral campaign of a particular candidate.
Or at least if it was in that time, very soon become a popular movement. So I think this movement is too large to be limited to just a particular group. However, the country’s situation today, with the communications that have been done either with Mr. Mousavi and Mr. Karoubi or with other political groups, I can definitely say that everyone has reached the conclusion that if we want to consider the reforms as a mechanism to open the doors to the liberalization of the system, all have reached the conclusion that this is an inevitable impasse, because this regime is absolutely not reformable and no effort, either elections or by law, in any combination of these systems is not able to change anything.
So I think that the alternative of a secular democratic system, secular versus religious, is the only remaining choice for the freedom seekers to achieve their political objectives. Now, that yesterday’s reformist forces or at least part of the reformist forces have concluded that reform is no more an option, whether they be connected to the secular forces, is exactly something that is being worked on today and I think that the ground is growing every day.
Please allow me to ask a question in regards with the groups involved and know your opinion in fact in connection with you supporters. However, we see two approaches in relation with you. A totally democratic and secular approach and the other monarchist. You know that there are many who are known as Royalists and call you Prince Reza Pahlavi and believe that the monarchy must be restored in Iran. In fact, according to you and your ideas of a secular system based on people’s vote, some differences are felt between these two tendencies. Have you ever had an answer for this group of your partisans?
First, I consider someone as my supporter who accepts my beliefs, goals and views. Supporters of this view are not necessarily Monarchists. Many are Republicans and accept the way that I suggest as a goal and a plan to achieve an acceptable result. The only disagreement is in the final form of a democratic system. Of course, between the wish of a republic, and a parliamentary monarchy, there is a difference in taste.
But in the content there is no controversy. Those who support this view, I consider as my supporters. If you are talking about some who have a non-democratic approach and claim that they are supporters of this systems, is another discussion. These people definitely do not support my ideas and I cannot consider as my supporters.
Anyways, let us consider that there will be changes in Iran and fundamental enough to provide the conditions for you to go back to Iran. In surveys, if you do not obtain any votes, how do you react?
The only mission that I see for myself is to achieve a situation in our country where we can have an open political space and organize a totally free elections. I have always been discussing whether within the Islamic Republic we can have conditions and atmosphere in which free elections could be held or not. If the answer is negative, so efforts and activities should be done to the extent that this regime may not be at the head of government in power and in those conditions, being able to achieve true freedom.
In doing so, all the freedom seekers forces, before anything, should remove the Islamic Republic, the main obstacle to progress on the way of freedom and democracy and then in an open and free political space, through a survey leave the country to the country’s elected representatives. And the first thing for the elected representatives is to create a Parliament that will take care of the country’s future constitution.
The Parliament will consider the problem of the content of the regime, the amount of power division, the final system, and many other issues and finally what the Iranian people will decide at that time such as the form of the system, beyond its contents, determines the kind of future political system.
At that time, when the country is in the people’s representatives hands, beyond my today’s mission which in my perspective, will be the end of my tasks as a freedom seeker, it will be discussed at that time, whether you want a certain person’s responsibility or just as an ordinary citizen. So, this is really not a specific subject to me at this stage. It is important to me that everyone understands what my intentions and my mission are at this point and the multitasking duty that is associated with this mission, I try to do in the best way possible and with every possibility I have.
In the past few days, there has been tensions between the leadership within the system and the president of the Islamic Republic. Some believe this stress can be very efficient. Do you think this tensions in the Islamic Republic of Iran are really effective tensions?
We saw the game of reform since the so called more moderate candidate with “Khatami” and at last it has been useless. We have seen that each time people thought they might, through elections, with a more moderate person, get closer to their goals, it was not only useless but we had even more repression and oppression. Considering my knowledge of the essence and the nature of this regime and its culture of ”insider” and ”outsider” and the kind of harsh behaviour with people, these kind of stress and tensions can not provide any newer conditions.
I think that these tensions are the symptoms of a dissociation within the system. They cannot even no longer provide a strategy and is trying somehow to find a way in this turbulence by some hazard and re-focus people’s attention to something else and create situations in the whole region. For example, with WMD achieve a state of threat somehow stabilizes their governance situation in the region. People of Iran are completely disassociated from this regime. We should not once again for the third time find ourselves in a self-deceived condition and then say this regime tricked us.
How many times we want to choose this path? Especially that the system is faced with very difficult situations every day. The problem is not only suppression. If you see the country’s economic situation, you realize. In fact, what I want to say is that the key opportunity as for many countries that are having their government shaken, could also be true for Iran.
But we are dealing with a country that have a much greater historical record than any other country in the region, a political pluralism and different civilizations, and for this reason, we should coordinate all the freedom seeker forces with harmony whose taste and kind of opinion is not necessarily the same but have the same goal with a much more general concept of a national goal.
The right to free elections, human rights issue, the issue of secular sovereignty, something that the regime does not accept under no circumstances, are cases where we can gather around in a common front to tackle the system. I have said that before but I still repeat it, I do not see any other way for Iran to get rid of this predicament either economically or politically and generally to return to development, progress and modernity; with a medieval oppressive system, Iran goes nowhere.
We need to cross the Islamic Republic and the alternatives or options must be correctly identified in this system, unlike thirty years ago, revolutionaries should not say, first the regime should go and then we see what we do next. This time, the Iranian people should explain exactly why this regime is not good and why the regime that we are talking about is better both in short term and long term it will be the key to solving problems. I think that the Islamic Republic is completely aware of this and all they do is somehow playing with people’s feelings.
For example, over the issues of being Iranian or Islamic, somehow they want to play with it without believing in it, but want to entertain people and engage them in some sort of mislead. Again, I say, be aware! All have understood what this system is made of. We cannot trust their slightest say and word. It is important that with the goal we have, in a common resistance, overthrow this regime.
The body of the system is composed of people and these people are somehow in the Corps and state agencies. People who somehow have a close alliance with the system, they may not even be pro-regime. But this group, are scared of change. We saw in 1979 that even people who had the slightest association with the previous regime have been executed, and today there is this fear, that if we cross the Islamic Republic , there will be bloodshed and conflict. How do you respond to these people?
It is this system and its fundamental body that has this philosophy. In the previous regime, in general, nobody killed all the opponents and look what happened. Many people now say that because they were not killed that they made the revolution and the outcome is the current regime. I tell you this again, I have said that repeatedly before, that people who are stuck within this regime should not think that they will not have a future. For example, the law enforcement agents should not think that if this system breaks down, they must be overwhelmed with this system and go down with it.
I think that these tensions are the symptoms of a dissociation within the system. They cannot even no longer provide a strategy and is trying somehow to find a way in this turbulence by some hazard and re-focus people’s attention to something else and create situations in the whole region.
They can have a future in Iran. Various forms should be planned, conducted and considered. We cannot achieve a stable future unless a large part of those who have been stuck in this system, be part of the solution in the future. We could not achieve the true freedom unless our partner in crime are the forces that today, make it clear that they will take people’s side and not the system’s.
National reconciliation is a process that for example in South Africa helped a lot in achieving a stable future.
It is obvious that the regime says to its agents ” do not think you can avoid your fate, you have to stay with us forever ”. And of course this is a lie that the regime tells them and people should not be trapped. I think that in Iran, people will only consider just those few people who are highly ranked and not even through killings but through a legal process. But the majority of these forces who are not responsible for suppression should not think that because the system at its head have had measures, every body is sinful and ostracized by Iranians. I think this is definitely not a modern thinking. We must ask people that in this transition to democracy, have the creed of tolerance, forgiveness and clemency because the value of freedom that we can achieve will be better than the atmosphere of repression. If this continues, this will be very expensive for the country.
Do you think that Iran’s elite of the protest movement believe that all the people in the system must have a relative safety?
You should ask them this question. What I tell you are strategies that have shown that in the end, in many repressive regimes, or even totalitarian systems, for example all the countries that were under the Soviet influence, East bloc countries and many examples such as the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary and many other countries, after the disintegration of the Soviet Union, many of these countries were able to adapt themselves to the free world and in fact could be connected to the free world when they survived from the Iron Curtain.
Eastern and Western Germany for example, we can name, many of those at the time were among the regimes that unless one committed a serious particular crime, much of the personnel of government found their way back to the communities and did not remain behind in any way and did not drawn with the government. What better example of this I can tell you, except that at the end, they changed their thinking and knew that they must be accountable to their own people and not responsive to their former states. This is the way that they should recognize.
When they judge themselves and when faced with their own consciences, they ask themselves whether this situation is justified? Really, their ideological beliefs and what should have been the outcome is the same promise of the revolution that they see today? Does this benefit the people of Iran? Our country has progressed in any ways? Whether our economy is flourishing and income levels are higher? They should ask themselves how much the current rulers want to steel from the country and not even care about the Iranian people. Well it is natural that my answer is the answer you expect. The rulers do not care and in my view, they constitute a minority not the majority.
This is a question of the audience of Radio Koocheh: Many people believe that the revolution in Iran in 79 was caused by changes and economic decisions out of the country and out of people’s control or the leaders who were considered leaders at that time did not have an opinion of their own. And some are referring to some issues raised in the conference of Guadeloupe. Today many are scared that perhaps this decision should happen out there for the change to happen. Do you think changes in Iran need a foreign decision to be made?
You are in fact referring to this culture of illusional thoughts of ”My Uncle Napoleon”. I have never denied that global politics is not impressive in what happens in a country, including what you pointed out. In the case of interference from outside in the changes that occurred in Iran thirty two years ago, I have no doubt. But whether this means that the Iranian community should forever stay spectators of a miracle to happen, that if this incident happened in the world, in this or that countries or if certain economic power took that or this decision, the future of Iran will be decided accordingly?
Or should we go forward with this way of thinking that despite the fact that we know in the world the interests of countries and governments are at stake, where can we reach a maximum of our desires and where there is disagreement, we should be able to control the situation in a way that they can impose the minimum to us or not to be able to destroy us with a poke. The only thing I can say is that there is no reason that the changes the Iranians wish today, be contrary to the interests of industrialized countries, if it is not very useful to them it is definitely not harmful.
Now, if they interfere or not, and if they will or will not make things easier for us, will they support our demands or not, is a question that we will face in action. But if we think that we should cross our arms until the world decide for us, so why are we talking then? We go and do whatever it is we are doing and never consider any right for ourselves and think that everything should be decided by others for us. This thinking is not even debatable. Therefore, I think that as the demands of people of Bahrain, Egypt, or Tunisia today has attracted more and more the world’s attention, it should be the same for us. These kind of demands can not be ignored, they have to consider them.
In any economic or political calculation, they know that if they do not pay attention to the demands of today, in the long run is going to be more expensive and cost a lot more than a short-term benefit they might have from a business interaction. I have said that to many of these figures in private and public sector of western countries that I have met in recent years.
If we assume that the movements and the events that are happening in the country however, are of heavy costs, what message do you have for other activists in order to make things less costly?
I have always suggested a formula to our compatriots that have the minimum cost in terms of lives and it comes back to a way of non-violence based fighting and civil disobedience. This is the method adopted today, everywhere, in every country but the circumstances and therefore the tactics used are different. According to the objective conditions in each country and we saw in fact most of our compatriots in this respect, used these tactics and it answered.
The important thing in my opinion is that in part our society, today, should be able to rely on an alternative. In fact, a mechanism that represents these wishes, ideas and programs must somehow appear in the scene in a way that our compatriots can connect with better or to adapt to these plans.
The important thing in my opinion is that in part our society, today, should be able to rely on an alternative. In fact, a mechanism that represents these wishes, ideas and programs must somehow appear in the scene in a way that our compatriots can connect with better or to adapt to these plans. Of course it is obvious that in the current situation, no structure or association of any type can represent these desires and goals, the regime allows no such entity, and maybe it will be necessary to initially, such a forum that all political forces should stay in, come into existence outside the country. Where all together, with harmony and consultation, we can continue the programs to the victory and transfer of these forces into the country.
This campaign is essentially about the coordination and strategy that the activists especially officials, organizations and parties within and outside the country should adopt in order to better coordinate and have the basic agreement so with a correct distribution of tasks could lead the situation inside and outside the country and make the communications of Iranians inside possible with the outside world and all together with one voice go against the government.
I think that the world wants to start a dialogue with the liberal forces. But the question always asked is that they do not know with whom to talk. Because the opposition up to date, has never been able to shape itself as a whole. United not with the meaning that everyone should necessarily have one ideology and belief, but a common goal to be able to represent on a common platform. If we do not cross this barrier, we have neither helped our people, nor this confused situation in the minds of the people. This is among the highest priorities. A concern that I am involved with at least from morning to evening, and discuss with other compatriots who are active in different parts within and outside the country.
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