Cross-party MPs and Peers discussed the continuation of popular protests in Iran, their impact on the future of the country and possible UK policy response to these developments at a conference in the UK Parliament on Wednesday, 22 February.

The conference concluded that the ongoing uprising entering its sixth month despite a violent crackdown and mass arrests by the authorities shows that Iran is on the brink of a new revolution.

At the conference, former Scottish MEP and the Coordinator of the Campaign for Iran Change (CiC), Struan Stevenson, presented his new book “Dictatorship and Revolution: Iran - A Contemporary History”, which charts the political history of Iran from the start of the twentieth century.

The cross-party MPs and Peers stressed that the people of Iran are rejecting the current regime for a free, democratic and secular republic and not for a return to the past dictatorship of the Shah.

The book distils the relevant facts surrounding the country’s most consequential political figures and civic challenges and illuminates the defining curse that for generations has thwarted the Iranian people’s democratic aspirations, namely the corrupt and brutal alliance, tacit or explicit, of Iran’s monarchists and clerics.

In his remarks to the conference, Mr Stevenson said: “During the current protests, the mullahs have begun to use a different tactic, trying to link the opposition to the monarchy, to discourage people from joining the protests. But in defiance of this new trick, protesters can routinely be heard yelling “Down with the Oppressor, be it the Shah or the Supreme Leader (Khamenei)” and “No to the Shah! No to the mullahs”, in towns and cities across Iran. Reza Pahlavi does not represent the Iranian diaspora.

“The people of Iran have the necessary tools to be successful in their democratic revolution from courageous determination to an organised resistance led by women, a viable democratic alternative in the NCRI and an articulated plan for the future in the ten-point democratic platform presented by the NCRI President-elect Mrs Maryam Rajavi.

“The future UK policy on Iran must recognise and embrace this Iranian solution and urged the UK Government to boycott the regime diplomatically in favour of engagement and cooperation with pro-democracy opposition coalition, the NCRI, for a democratic change in Iran.

“Let us not repeat the mistakes of the past by discounting the real democratic opposition, the PMOI/MEK and the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI).”

The cross-party MPs and Peers backed Mr Stevenson’s policy recommendation and urged the UK Government to lead Europe in making sure that the Iranian people and their organised resistance can defeat the brutal regime in Iran.

They stressed that by proscribing the IRGC as a terrorist organisation and outright backing to the Iranian Resistance movement similar to the proactive support the UK Government has given to the people of Ukraine, would demonstrate British opposition to brutal autocracy.

Steve McCabe MP, co-president of the British Committee for Iran Freedom,  said: “As Struan explains in his book, the Iranian people see only one way forward to liberty and human rights and that is an Iran under genuine popular rule, a democratic republic. The people reject the Shah and the mullahs since they are the antithesis to democracy and popular rule.

“The Shah held together his crumbling dictatorship with the notorious secret police Savak and the regime is doing exactly the same with the terrorist IRGC.

“This is totally rejected by the Iranian people as heard in their slogans during the recent years' uprisings and the fact that the Iranian people have a clear democratic alternative in the NCRI and Mrs Maryam Rajavi's ten-point plan to secure a free, democratic and secular republic in Iran.”

Bob Blackman MP, co-president of the International Committee of Parliamentarians for a Democratic Iran (ICPDI) added: “For a majority of the people in Iran the Shah and the mullahs are synonymous with totalitarian dictatorship. That is why generations of Iranians have paid the highest price to secure a free and democratic Iran for as long as it takes.

“This is exactly what is happening in Iran today. I commend the NCRI, its president-elect Madam Rajavi and the Resistance units inside Iran for advancing this new popular uprising in Iran.

“The NCRI, as Madam Rajavi has emphasised, is not in competition with any Iranian force or movement over power in the future Iran. The goal, as articulated in her ten-point democratic platform for the future of the country, is to secure free and fair elections in Iran where the people can elect their leaders. This is a goal, a vision, worthy of support from the UK.”

Baroness Verma said: “Women have played a prominent role in the struggle for democracy in Iran that has been going on since the constitutional revolution almost a century ago.

"Today, women and girls of Iran have a popular movement and a democratic platform, presented by the NCRI and Maryam Rajavi’s ten-point plan, which ensures the following for women in the future Iran after the mullahs are overthrown, complete gender equality in the realms of political, social, cultural, and economic rights and equal participation of women in political leadership.

“That is why women are at the forefront of the uprising for a new revolution and leading the resistance movement. They are the driving force for change and guarantor of democracy in Iran. So, I agree with the other speakers on the recommendations put forward, today, especially on the need for our Government to proscribe the IRGC.”

Other speakers included, Lord Singh of Wimbledon CBE; Martyn Day MP; and Jim Shannon MP.

British Committee for Iran Freedom

22 February 2023