Reza Pahlavi: “The regime is archaic. The country is on the brink of explosion.”
An interview with Reza Pahlavi, the elder son of the Shah of Iran and of Empress Farah Diba living in exile in the US, by Michel Bole-Richard, from the French daily Le Monde, June 18, 2005, Paris – France. This interview, conducted in French, was translated into English for Iran-Shahr, from the print version of Le Monde.
You have qualified the presidential elections as a “masquerade”. Why?
A regime that has a Constitution which denies the sovereignty of the people and where candidates are selected by the regime and the Parliament can not vote into laws its own proposed bills, is not a system representative of the people. This regime interprets divine laws as it pleases and elections are like those held under the Soviet or Saddam’s regime. All this is to make the world believe that they enjoy a certain degree of legitimacy. Elections must be boycotted. To vote for this regime is to prolong its survival. Not to turn out will be the demonstration that the people rejects this theocracy. What the people is asking for is a secular Constitution based on the Universal Charter of Human Rights. Reformists couldn’t do anything. We have lost ten years. Time has come for change.
What turnout rate would you consider as a victory?
We can expect a turnout of 30%, not more. A boycott by 2/3 of the voters would be a very good sign. But the regime can manipulate the results and put pressure on the citizens by the obligatory electoral stamp on ID cards. Having said that, I don’t think that the regime is in a situation where it can threaten our compatriots. Fear and apprehension are increasingly dissipating. It is a collective movement which is increasingly taking root and propagating. Furthermore, it is no longer emanating from an intellectual elite alone. It is increasingly rooted within the people.
Are you calling for a popular uprising?
The free world must put pressure on Iran. It should no longer give in to the nuclear blackmail of a terrorist regime that is seeking to acquire the [atomic] bomb. The outside world should play the card of Iranians themselves, talking, no longer to the jailers, but to those who are jailed. One should no longer fall into the trap of changing seats for the cards are the same even if different ones are put on the table every now and then. What is necessary is a democratic civil disobedience campaign supported by the international community. From now on, the confrontation is inevitable.
Is it going to end up into violence?
Violence is useless. Civil disobedience is a necessary and effective tool to get the job done. The system must be paralyzed and national reconciliation facilitated. A police State can not control a massive uprising. Iranians, in particular the youth, are aware of what is going on in the world. The regime is archaic. The country is on the brink of explosion. But this should not happen in anarchy. What we want is a democratic and peaceful implosion. If the champion of reforms, Mohammad Khatami, couldn’t do anything, it is not Ali Akbar Rafsanjani, the most detested and most corrupt individual in the country, who can bring about change. What we have is a paralyzed mafia regime.
Are you in favor of a Restoration of monarchy?
The word Restoration has a negative connotation. Iranians must be able to freely choose their future. My mission will end the day we will get to free elections. From that day, I will be ready to serve my country. I am not preoccupied with my own personal future.