Paris, 18 June (IPS) The “Iran Solidarity” conference held in Paris between 15 to 17 June 2007 ended on Sunday with the election of a 21-members Executive Council that gave satisfaction to most of the organizers but brought bitterness and pessimism to some of the participants.
The “invitation-only” meeting, a follow up to two earlier venues in Berlin and in London on June 2005 and June 2006 had brought to the French Capital some 150 people, including some from Iran, representing a wide spectrum of Iranian opposition groups, organisations and personalities struggling for years to topple the ruling theocracy in Tehran, but what they have achieved so far is fighting each other instead the Islamic regime.
“This is the first time that a meeting is bringing together such a large number of people representing various Iranian groups opposed to the Islamic Republic of Iran inside and outside the country, women, students, unions, ethnic and religious minorities, monarchists, religious-nationalists, leftists, Marxists, nationalists, republicans etc.. ”, Dr. Shahriar Ahi, the most powerful voice of the newly created Iran National Solidarity (INS) told Iran Press Service.
What they are doing here is to make a Noah’s Ark filled with a sample of all kind of Iranians opposed to the regime.
“What they (organizers) are doing here is to make a Noah’s Ark filled with a sample of all kind of Iranians opposed to the regime and to present it to the outside”, one frustrated delegate told IPS.
“The fate of this meeting would not be any different from the two previous ones held in Berlin and in London”, another participant predicted.
But Dr. Hoseyn Baqerzadeh, a human rights campaigner and one of the organizers of the conference says the Iranian National Solidarity is “a turning point” in the struggle against the backward regime of Iran.
“We were able to overcome most of the problems and difficulties we used to face in the past. This is the start point for bringing all of Iranian forces opposed to this regime, inside and outside Iran”, he added, talking to IPS at the end of the conference.
In fact, the debates at times got out of control, with some ultra nationalists, including some people from inside Iran, denounced the Kurds and other Iranian ethnic minorities to seek the disintegration of the "motherland".
The outburst angered some of the Kurdish and Azeri delegates, who walked out of the conference.
Reminding that the present clerical led regime is “not reformable, as seen by the experience of the reformist movement initiated by former president Mohammad Khatami, both Mr. Baqerzadeh and Ahi insists that the “final aim” of the INS is to bring democracy and freedom to Iran and free Iranians from the yoke of an authoritarian, despotic political system.
“Our objective is democracy, freedom and human rights, aspirations that this regime can not give to Iranians. To fulfill these demands, one must create an alternative; otherwise, the continuation of this regime would destroy Iran. To be efficient and credible, the alternative can not be but pluralistic, representing all political, cultural, social, ethnic and religious diversities of the nation”, Dr. Ahi, explained.
Dr. Ahi -- reported to be a “go between” the opposition and the Bush Administration -- confirmed that one of the aims of the INS was to form a provisory government or a parliament in exile, but immediately added “not now. Not at this stage”. “We are trying to create a provisory government in exile and seeking its recognition by the international community, but not now and in any case, not the INS at its present shape”.
One of the aims of the INS was to form a provisory government or a parliament in exile.
However, Dr. Baqerzadeh points out that the INS is not seeking the overthrow of the Islamic Republic, but to help installing a political system, that would respond to the demands of the Iranian society.
Besides becoming a bridge between Iranian opposition outside and inside Iran, the INS would also attract the support of the international community, democratic government, unions, human rights organization, parliaments etc.. for their struggle, the organizers say.
However, the presence at the meeting of some foreigners, including Americans, posing as “observers”, did not please many participants.
“INS is not a political party, it is not a coalition, it is movement open to all Iranians fighting against the Islamic Republic”, Mr. Ahi pointed out, insisting that the movement was not looking for financial help from outside.
“Exiled opposition groups cannot and should not impose their choices on movements operating inside the country", Mr. Amir Farshad Ebrahimi, a former member of Ansar Hezbollah, a paramilitary organization controlled by the powerful Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, told Mr. Ahmad Rafat of the Italian private news agency “Adnkronosinternational” (AKI)
Ebrahimi, who has spent a year in jail for denouncing the role of armed militias in the repression of students' movements, also told AKI that "groups fighting within the country for change believe that the exiled should speak for them, bringing their message to the international public opinion and mobilising the domestic public through radio and television networks as well as the Internet".
Meanwhile, another gathering of Iranians in Paris on Sunday 17 June was marred in blood when some 40 to 50 men, some hooded, belonging to the outlawed Mojahedeen Khalq Organisation (MKO) attacked the conference of the newly created Association For The Protection Of Iranian Exiles in France.
"As the meeting started and as participants were taking seats, suddenly a group of 40 to 50 people, some of them armed with white arms, stormed the place, attacked the participants, wounding some of them", Mr. Firouzmand, one of the organisers told Iran Press Service.
According to Mr. Mas'oud Khodabandeh, a former senior member of the MKO in charge of the security of the Baghdad-based group, all the attackers were MKO members coming from neighbouring countries like Belgium, Germany, Holland, Italy or England.
The operation lasted for ten minutes, making 15 wounded, including five amonmg the MKO before the intervention of the French police, using tear gas to overpower the attackers and arresting most of them. ENDS IRAN OPPOSITION 18607