The Free Iran World Summit 2021 will begin on Saturday, featuring Iranian expatriate activists, Western politicians, and foreign policy experts. The annual event will take place less than a month after the Iranian presidential election, which was widely boycotted by the people following a two-month-long campaign by the Iranian Resistance, who encouraged Iranians to “vote for regime change”.
The Iranian regime has not gone so far as to admit that the boycott happened (or that the Resistance encouraged it), but they have admitted that the election had the lowest turnout in the history of the regime.
However, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), citing videos from dissent journalists and activists, said that even the numbers released by the regime are inflated with the hope of making the regime look more official in the eyes of the rest of the world. They estimated that just 10% of eligible voters took part in the election and that many of the ballots cast had been intentionally spoiled.
This indicates massive support inside Iran for the Resistance and for the 10-point plan for a free Iran of NCRI president Maryam Rajavi, which includes separation of religion and state, abolition of the death penalty, and equal protection under the law. Many Western lawmakers and activists have previously supported this plan.
This Western support will be all the more vital this year, as proponents of the election boycott are likely to face reprisals from the regime and therefore the international community must insist that the people’s rights to protest must be protected without punishment. After all, the regime killed 1,500 peaceful protesters in just a few days following the November 2019 uprising, where people chanted “death to the dictator”, and arrested many thousands more who are still held in prisons. International support would also increase the Resistance’s threat to the regime’s hold on power.
Since the election, it has been clear that an uprising is on the horizon. Workers have been going on strike and people have been protesting, where they’ve made it clear that they do not trust new president Ebrahim Raisi and calling for regime change as the only solution to their problem.
At this weekend’s summit, Western policymakers need to listen to Iranians and stand on the right side of history, especially against Raisi, who is known by the people as the “henchman” of a 1988 massacre of 30,000 political prisoners.