EXCLUSIVE: Kayhan Life Interview with Reza Pahlavi

4 Jan – In a few short months, the Iranian regime will mark the 40th anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution. For the last year, a nationwide campaign of peaceful civil disobedience has spread across the country, triggered by unrest in the holy city of Mashhad in December 2017. Ordinary Iranians including teachers, pensioners, factory workers, and truckers have gone on strike, protesting the government’s failure to tackle the high cost of living, unsafe work environment, hyperinflation, and unemployment.   

Social media is flooded with messages from various groups and individuals urging people to hold rallies against the Iranian regime. Many Iranians have found it extremely difficult to separate the legitimate sources of these protest calls from the untrustworthy ones.

Kayhan Life recently spoke to former Crown Prince Reza Pahlavi about this issue.

Q: There have been many messages posted on social media in December and January, urging people to hold rallies against the Iranian regime. Many people would like to know your thoughts on the matter. Do you support these calls to protest?

A: As I’ve said in previous interviews, the driving forces at the heart of the resistance movement in Iran must lead the street protests. The marches and rallies by workers, farmers, teachers, university students, pensioners, truckers and merchants in the Bazar in recent weeks have been planned, organized, coordinated and led by a collective network of various unions. I have supported them all in any way I could.

I do not, however, support messages that are not from reliable, verifiable and trustworthy sources. I believe that they are irresponsible and potentially harmful. The regime usually crushes these disorganized and poorly planned protests. As a consequence, many courageous activists are arrested or seriously hurt. It takes months for these individuals to regroup and set up a new network. It is, therefore, not too farfetched to think that the regime welcomes such poorly planned protests.

Q: Do you only support planned, organized and coordinated protests that are called by known sources inside Iran?

A: That is correct. In the absence of any viable and active political parties, the unions and popular movements have spearheaded the fight in Iran. As we’ve witnessed, they have made many sacrifices in recent months. There have also been many protests in the past days in Esfahan, Tehran, and Ahvaz. I’m in constant contact with the unions and civic organizations and carefully follow their progress.

I, however, firmly believe that we should not pick unripened fruit. We need to be patient, and allow the groundwork for more massive protests to be laid down. These are the building blocks of a movement that organizes and strengthens the resistance network inside the country, and will ultimately weaken and wear down this oppressive and criminal regime. This is the correct way of fighting under current circumstances. All of these different currents will eventually merge to create a tidal wave which will carry the people to ultimate victory. 

Translated from Persian by Fardine Hamidi

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