He pointed out that New Year is supposed to be a time of happiness but for the people of Iran, this new year has been marked with impoverishment and brutality. Stevenson highlighted that a quarter of young people are unemployed.
Stevenson also emphasised that Iran has a predominantly young population – more than half of the 80 million citizens are under the age of thirty. The young people of Iran are forward-thinking and pro-Western, unlike the “elderly, bearded, deeply corrupt mullahs” that rule the country.
Iran is an oil-rich country but the resources have been wasted on the export of terrorism and fundamentalism. The regime lavishes itself in riches and luxury and lets the people take the brunt of the economic troubles. Stevenson said: “The middle-class has all but been extinguished, apart from a few affluent neighbourhoods that house the extremely wealthy and largely corrupt clerics, revolutionary guards and key supporters of the theocratic regime.”
Iran, he added, is the most repressive and corrupt in the Middle East and it has the highest execution rate per capita in the world. Ninety per cent of the executions that are carried out in the region are in Iran.
The people are also subjected to the regime’s “misogynistic, homophobic and male-dominated” ideals.
At the end of last year, people the whole way across the country took to the streets to protest. They are fed up of seeing the regime officials swan around in luxury while the people become increasingly worse off. The Iranian regime knows that it is losing its grip on power and it is acting desperately. Unable to act any other way, the regime increased the number of arrests happening and continued to torture prisoners and ramp up its campaign of repression. Stevenson points out that what the regime fears most is the “popular fury of the masses spilling over into a new revolution, sweeping their fascist regime from power”.
The regime had previously maintained that the democratic opposition, the People’s Mojahedin of Iran (PMOI / MEK) is weak, insignificant and has no following in Iran. Yet, during the recent protests, officials in the regime admitted that the PMOI was behind the organisation of the uprising.
This acknowledgment of the opposition was quite a surprise to some and President Hassan Rouhani’s call to French President Emmanuel Macron to urge him to take action against the opposition was laughable. To ask the leader of a democratic and free country to take action against a peaceful opposition group says it all!
Stevenson finally called for action and said that we owe it to our conscience and to the people of Iran to support the opposition so that they finally get freedom and democracy as soon as possible. He said: “It is sad and disgraceful that here in the West we think that ‘constructive dialogue’ with the mullahs is sufficient, while they export war and terror throughout the Middle East.
We close our eyes to the daily abuse of human rights, because we don’t want to derail the chance for rich, commercial contracts with this evil regime. We block our ears to the screams of the tortured and oppressed, because we believe that our policy of appeasement will suffice. Well it is time that we woke up.”