According to Reza Pahlavi—the last surviving son and heir of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, deposed in the Iranian Revolution—the reported “massacre” shows the desperation and ruthlessness of the regime.
Pahlavi spoke to Newsweek from Washington, D.C., where he still lives in exile after his family fled the country in 1979. He has consistently called for a secular democracy to replace the current system.
Pahlavi said the current turmoil is indicative of widespread anger at the government in Tehran, and that the only solution is a rehabilitated secular democracy—whether or not he is directly involved.
How should we characterize the current unrest in Iran?
The protests in our country are driven by a broad-based, grassroots desire to replace this regime. The 200 percent rise in fuel prices may have been the trigger of this latest round of widespread national street protests, but this does not come close to capturing the essence or aspirations of what they have become.
These protests represent a rejection of the regime as a whole and communicate a desire to end forty years of clerical oppression. All one has to do to understand this is to listen to my compatriots in the streets.
They do not chant for reforms, or about fuel prices, they chant, “We don’t want the Islamic Republic!” and, “Khamenei, get out of the country!” and by the hundreds they are giving their lives for the cause of freedom.
What does the response of the security forces tell us about the priorities and mindset of those in power?
We have known for forty years that the regime’s only priorities are safeguarding and expanding its own power and control, including enriching itself. This massacre is not surprising. It is rather what one expects when such a regime feels threatened.
Simultaneously, we are witnessing the beginning of a peeling away of the security forces from the regime. As a result, the Islamic Republic is forced to import foreign nationals to attempt to control the protests.
This simply shows that the regime will stop at nothing to protect itself, even at the cost of an effective genocide. Yet despite all this, the people are still fighting. The message they give me to tell the world is, “We deserve better than this. Why are you abandoning us?”
What should replace the current regime in Iran?
For four decades I have consistently advocated for a secular, democratic system in Iran. Not only have I advocated this for Iran because it is the best way to ensure the human rights, well-being, and happiness of Iranians but also because it is my sense that the Iranian people overwhelmingly want and demand such a system.
Today’s generation of young Iranians, more than ever, are aware of other countries where sovereignty is routine in their liberal and free societies. They would like to have the very same opportunities and self-determination.
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Feedback from social media…
Reza Pahlavi the son of the last Shah of #Iran, who has been living a luxury life for decades without having worked a single day in his life, says Iranians “understand” Trump’s sanctions – which have helped cripple the economy and devastate their lives. https://t.co/EKBF8qBmZA
— Negar Mortazavi (@NegarMortazavi) December 14, 2019
Mohammadreza Pahlavi owed his crown to MI6 & CIA orchestrated coup, now his son, who has been sustained by US govt & continues to live off #Iran’s stolen wealth four decades later, has the audacity to claim Iranians “understand” their immiseration at hands of US economic warfare. https://t.co/23GE7tBlaX
— Eskandar Sadeghi (@EskandarSadeghi) December 14, 2019