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Reza Pahlavi

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Holding Iran's Supreme Leader Accountable

Posted: 03/ 8/2012 8:50 am

The subject of Iran currently sits quite prominently at the forefront of foreign policy discussions. 80% of all media coverage of Iran today focuses on the covert nuclear program. The remaining 20% focuses on provocative words and actions of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. His actions might make for good television, and Iran's nuclear program might make for the stuff of brinksmanship, but the present discussion about Iran fails to focus on the root of the country's plaguing problem: the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

In late January, I submitted a report to the United Nations Security Council detailing the crimes against humanity perpetrated on the orders of Islamic Republic's Supreme Leader, Mr. Ali Khamenei. The report focuses on crimes against humanity committed during the suppression of popular dissent after Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's fraudulent re-election in June 2009. It also addresses various acts of Human Rights violations against ethnic communities and religious minorities since the clerical regime's inception.

Since the Islamic revolution of 1979, Western nations have alternated between trying to isolate Iran or to engage Iran diplomatically. It makes no difference: the clerics ruling Iran -- Ali Khamenei, in particular -- have no real interest in engagement with the West, nor have they ever. In fact, animosity with the West -- for all the values it represents -- is the underlying premise on which the Islamic Republic of Iran was founded. This would ultimately explain why reasoning with them has been futile: the lack of a common sphere of rationality.

The failing diplomacy seems to have led certain voices in the West to turn bellicose, and what were once whispers of war against my homeland are now growing louder. This concerns me for three reasons. First, because I am categorically opposed to any attack on my homeland due to the fact that it is not a viable solution, neither for stopping the nuclear program nor for the peace and the stability in the region; second, because Iran's armed forces will be forced into a position of defense and will be lost as potential allies to our democratic movement; and third, because the West has overlooked the most important tool to pressure the regime: the empowerment of the Iranian people.

I have steadfastly stated in interviews and speeches that the best insurance against nuclear proliferation and securing regional peace would be to help Iranians establish a secular democracy. There has yet to be serious effort to engage the overwhelming majority of Iranians who oppose this regime, and render them assistance to rise and take back their land from their oppressors.

The chief culprit behind all the evil that occurs within and emanates from Iran is Ali Khamenei in his role as Supreme Leader with nearly absolute power. A comprehensive study of the Iranian power structure and its constitution makes it clear that President Ahmadinejad is nothing more than a marionette in a corrupt puppet show run entirely by Ali Khamenei.

Based on religious law, the constitution of the Islamic Republic gives virtually all political, military and economic power to the Supreme Leader, at the top of the regime's hierarchy. The powers Khamenei holds give him the ability to control and intervene without limitation in all aspects of the public and private life of Iranians.

Numerous protestors arrested during the post-election protests in 2009 were brought before the Islamic Republic's revolutionary courts and judged for having committed the crime of "Moharebeh," which means "war against God." This charge can be made for any act that goes against the interests of the Islamic Republic. There is in fact no statutory definition of the crime of Moharebeh. It is a powerful tool that allows the regime to accuse any person and to condemn anyone with any sentence, including the death penalty.

The charge of Moharebeh was used against numerous protestors arrested during post-election demonstrations of 2009. Their arrests, which for the most part took place when they were participating in peaceful demonstrations, subsequently led to them being brought before the courts and receiving severe sentences.

In his Friday prayer sermon of 19 June 2009, Ali Khamenei confirmed the decision of the Islamic Republic to blindly and violently repress any person opposing the results of the presidential election of 12 June 2009. Security forces, invigorated by the Supreme Leader's address, dressed in civilian clothing to infiltrate the peaceful protesters and attacked them with guns, blades and knives. The image of Neda Agha-Soltan, the young woman who was shot in cold blood by a sniper, remains etched in our collective memories. Sadly, Neda was just one of many who died for freedom in Iran.

For Neda, and for all those who have been killed, abused, raped, terrorized and sentenced in sham trials, not only since the protests of the summer of 2009, but for the entire existence of this regime in my homeland, I accuse Ali Khamenei of crimes against humanity. The record is clear and chilling; his orders and the actions that his forces have taken as a result of those orders clearly meet the definitions of crimes against humanity as defined by the Article 7 of the Rome Statute which established the International Criminal Court.

The evidence in the report I filed with the United Nations Security Council provides sufficient cause for the United Nations Security Council to take up this matter and refer it quickly to the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court in The Hague. These crimes include murder, torture, rape and other sexual violence, disappearance of persons, persecution of political, religious, and ethnic groups; and denial of liberty. It is time to bring Ali Khamenei to justice for his crimes against humanity.

It is my sincere hope that whatever political motivations have previously guided nations in the past vis-à-vis Iran, they will do what is clearly right and side with the people of Iran by voting to refer this case to the International Criminal Court at once. Those of us fighting for a free Iran will remember our friends that helped us in our time of need.

Under the tyranny of Ali Khamenei, Iranians cannot currently speak freely for themselves. We can be the voice for freedom and justice by pushing for unanimous passage of this complaint in the UN Security Council and try Ali Khamenei before the International Criminal Court. The international community will send a strong signal of solidarity with the Iranian people.

 

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