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Time to stand with the right side of history in Iran

By DAVID AMESS, UPI Outside View Commentator   |   Oct. 12, 2012 at 6:30 AM   |   Comments

LONDON, Oct. 12 (UPI) -- The Iranian regime is in trouble. Facing mounting economic pressure, international isolation and the prospect of more domestic unrest the regime is scrambling to maintain its grip on power.

With its foothold in Syria severely weakened and its ability to drum up support in the international community at an all-time low, the regime was dealt another devastating blow when its primary opposition -- the People's Mujahedin of Iran -- was taken off the U.S. Foreign Terrorist List.

The regime has increased its rhetoric against the PMOI, engaging in a propaganda blitz in order to discredit the organization it so fears.

The PMOI has fought the regime for 30 years, having lost 120,000 supporters in its fight against the regime. As recently as 2009, 11 individuals were sentenced to death for their part in organizing anti-government uprisings. All 11 were affiliated to the PMOI. Three of them were hanged. The rest are on death row. Currently, Gholamreza Khosravi awaits execution on death row for his contribution to a satellite TV station that supports the PMOI.

The brutality of the regime against the PMOI shows the extent to which the regime fears the organization and the real threat it poses to the clerics in Tehran. Actually maintaining the PMOI terror label was a foreign policy priority of the mullahs for years.

Yet, in fear of a tilt toward the PMOI, the regime and its advocates in the West have sought to represent the PMOI as the aggressors, labeling them "terrorists," "cult-like" and any other label in order to justify their suppression and murder.

One of the primary backers of this narrative is National Iranian American Council, an organization that has long been linked to the regime in Tehran, and has used its activities in Washington to encourage rapprochement with the regime and suppression of the PMOI.

NIAC engaged in a full-fledged publicity campaign to oppose the de-listing of the PMOI, redoing its entire website in order to focus on the issue, while at the same time labeling efforts by PMOI supporters to de-list the group "illegal lobbying."

In an absurd example of how the PMOI is a violent organization, NIAC's policy director cites a story in which PMOI supporters in Iran chanted "Death to Khamenei" during the 2009 election uprising. NIAC said this slogan shows the group's propensity to incite violence, and terrorism.

Without a hint of irony, NIAC labels those who called for freedom in Iran "terrorists" even after the world watched as the regime shot and killed protesters in the street in cold blood.

By labeling those who protested as "terrorists," NIAC effectively justified their murder and repression and absolves the regime of any wrongdoing.

Under this criterion it would appear that Martin Luther King and Gandhi were also inciters of violence as their words were inevitably met with brutal repression.

It is not a coincidence that at the same time NIAC fiercely opposed the inclusion of the regime's Revolutionary Guards, the mullahs' pivotal force of suppression at home and terrorism abroad from being included in the U.S. terror list.

The regime and its advocates have also repeatedly claimed that the PMOI has no support in Iran, nor any weight as a political force. Interestingly enough, the slogans in the streets that targeted Khamenei became the hallmark of the 2009 uprising, showing not only the PMOI's presence in Iran but also the Iranian people's real desire for a regime change.

It was again evident in the anti-government demonstration on Oct. 3, when people chanted against the mullahs' nuclear program and supporting the Syrian dictator Bashar Assad.

The regime itself has also claimed that recent protests in the Tehran Bazaar have been instigated by the PMOI.

As the regime faces growing isolation and pressure it has entered a state of hysteria and desperation, yet for all the venom that it spews it cannot forestall the inevitable. The time is now for a democratic change in Iran. The people are ready, the opposition is unchained, and the mullahs have played their last hand. Is the West ready to side with the right side of history?

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(David Amess, a Conservative Member of Parliament for the constituency of Southend West, is a leading member of the British Parliamentary Committee for Iran Freedom.)

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(United Press International's "Outside View" commentaries are written by outside contributors who specialize in a variety of important issues. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of United Press International. In the interests of creating an open forum, original submissions are invited.)

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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