Friday, June 03, 2005

Boycott Iran's Sham Election, Urges Son of the late Shah
Two weeks ahead of Iran's presidential elections, the exiled son of the deposed Shah is urging a boycott of the poll, saying Iranians should send a clear message to the world that the regime has no political legitimacy and is ready for a change.

Addressing a press conference in Paris Thursday, Reza Pahlavi said most Iranian opposition groups have declared their intent to boycott the June 17 election.

He claimed further that at least 65 percent of voters were planning not to participate because there were no real candidates, and in Iran's hard-line theocracy, the unelected Council of Guardians can overrule any elected officials.

Pahlavi, who has lived in the U.S. since his father was overthrown in the 1979 Islamic revolution, said Iran was the only country in the world "whose written constitution specifically denies that sovereignty belongs to its citizens."

"Instead it awards it to representatives of God on Earth, who can do with their people and on behalf of their people whatever they please -- oppression at home and terrorism abroad."

He said the election boycott would be a "symbolic gesture" to show that Iranians are aware the regime has no legitimacy. Beyond that gesture, opposition groups would seek a referendum for a constitution based on international human rights conventions.

In the run up to the election, the 12-member Council of Guardians barred nearly 1,000 prospective candidates -- most of them reformists -- leaving a field of just six. Last week, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khameini ordered the council, whose members he appoints, to reverse its decision in two cases, bringing the total number of contenders to eight.

Polls indicate that none of them pose a major threat to the frontrunner, former president Hashemi Rafsanjani.

Rafsanjani is sometimes referred to as "moderate" or "pragmatic," but Pahlavi had a different assessment, calling him the "most hated man in Iran and the most corrupt."

Elections were being held to fool the West into thinking there was a democratic process in Iran, he charged. He urged the three European nations negotiating with Iran - France, Germany and Britain - in particular to keep in mind the nature of the regime.

"Iranians need just one thing - international moral support for liberty in Iran and for human rights. At the same time, Western governments, particularly European countries who are right now negotiating with this regime shouldn't forget to insist on the themes of human rights and political liberties."

"This would be the best way for Iran not to undergo what happened in Iraq," he said.

The European Union trio are engaged in negotiations with Iran, aimed at suspending its uranium-enrichment program in exchange for trade incentives.

Iran says it is using the enrichment program for energy but the U.S. suspects that it is a cover for developing nuclear weapons. For now, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is backing the European approach although she has warned that the U.S. would not tolerate a weapons program.

While Pahlavi wants the international community to put diplomatic pressure on Tehran over the nuclear issue and human rights, he does not support direct foreign intervention.

Any military intervention, such as a raid by the U.S. or Israel aimed at destroying nuclear facilities, would only galvanize the Iranian people to protect their nation.
"No foreign country has the right to dictate or formulate or advocate regime change in Iran," he said. "It is none of their business -- it is our business as Iranians.

"All we want is support for democratic ideals and the principles of human rights from the free nations of this world," said Pahlavi, urging Western governments: "Don't cut a deal with our oppressor." READ MORE
Reza Pahlavi did a good job explaining what Iranians want.