Iran’s Day of Freedom

Today Iran witnessed mass anti-regime protests in many cities, including Shiraz, Isfahan, Karaj, Ahvaz, Najafabad, and countless other towns across the country. Iranians chanted for the regime’s clerics to “get lost” while they praised the founder of modern Iran, Reza Shah Pahlavi.

Unlike the 2009 Green uprising which was led by the so-called reformists, the last few days of mass protests and strikes are aimed directly at overthrowing the entire regime, including “moderates” who have driven Iran into the ground economically, socially, and environmentally. Iranians, like all people worried about uncertainty and instability, have nevertheless decided to risk life and limb to free their country.

Today, it is the obligation of all Iranians everywhere to fight for their brothers and sisters, to be the voice of voiceless Iranians, and to stand tall with their people as they fight Iran’s dictator, Ali Khamenei.

The fight for freedom in Iran belongs only to the Iranian people. But that doesn’t mean the U.S. should stand and watch silently. Freedom for Iran would mean an end to one of the most anti-American and anti-democratic of regimes and possibly greater stability in the entire Middle East.

American leaders should unequivocally stand with the people of Iran and not engage or negotiate with the regime unless to arrange for the defection of regime officials and security personnel. Public pronouncements of support from both sides of the aisle is essential.

Moreover, the U.S. should establish formal contacts with the Iranian opposition and actively help groups that seek a secular and democratic Iran; the Iranian opposition is energized more than ever, but it cannot stand alone in the face of a resourceful and brutal regime.

Iran’s state media monopoly, the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, should be sanctioned for facilitating human rights abuses, including attempts to identify and punish peaceful protesters. And the U.S. should find more creative ways of fighting the regime psychologically beyond relying on the struggling VOA Persian service.

Iranians need a sign from the global community that they will not die alone in their fight against tyranny. Identifying regime lobbies, networks, and sources of funding abroad would show Iranians that the U.S. means business and doesn’t seek an agreement at the expense of Iran’s liberty.

Mass civil disobedience, protests, and strikes in addition to external support can bring the regime down onto its knees. It has been done before in places like South Africa, Eastern Europe, and the former Soviet Union, and can be done again in Iran.

The regime has used fear and intimidation to rule Iran for nearly forty years. But the darkness will end and the light will return to Iran one day. The sooner that day comes the better it will be for Iran and the entire global community.