The issues included the project of regime change in Iran, the necessity of imposing sanctions on Tehran, concern for the rampant violation of human rights in Iran, dealing with the Iranian regime’s warmongering, the various networks of the Iranian regime abroad, the relations between Iran and its neighbors, and the role of media in promoting democracy in Iran.
On June 8, 2017, the US Congress had invited a number of Iranian-American dissidents to discuss US policy toward Iran. Among the invitees were scholars, analysts, journalists, lawyers, human rights activists, media personalities and businessmen, all calling for democracy. A consensus was built on the need to overthrow the regime and installing a Western-style democracy in Iran.
According to Reza Parchizadeh, a political theorist and analyst, “the participants in the session believed that the conflict between the regime factions is only quasi-real; and that the regime uses such conflicts to deceive the world through a show of diversity, plurality and democracy.
However, this time the regime was not successful in deceiving the world and the Iranian people.” He added that “in order to have a peaceful Middle East, we must know that there is no other way but to topple the regime in Iran.”
Regarding the Qatar crisis, Parchizadeh said that “the Iranian regime is one of the major forces behind that crisis. It follows a policy of interfering in the affairs of Iran’s Arab neighbors, and boosts a Qatari government that supports terrorism in the form of Al-Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas.”
Parchizadeh also pointed out the vision of the delegation for the future of Iran’s relations with Arabs, saying that “when democracy is installed in Iran, we are intent upon establishing normal and friendly relations with all our neighbors, including Arabs.”
On the ISIS terrorist attack in Tehran, Parchizadeh stressed that the Iranian regime quite likely stages such false alarms in order to ease pressure on itself on the domestic, regional and international fronts, especially after its ally Qatar has been accused of supporting terrorists in the region.
Therefore, the Iranian regime is trying to frame itself as victim of terrorism and not its sponsor. It also seeks to take extraordinary measures to suppress any kind of dissent in Iran.
Marjan Greenblatt, another member of the delegation, said: “We wanted to be the voice of the Iranian people and convey the account of their silent struggles to Congress. American policy has long been influenced by Iranian-Americans who have business interests in Iran. It is time to hear alternative voices.”
She said that when humanitarian aid is provided to Iran it must be widely publicized by the Persian-language media in the United States so that the people know and hold the Iranian government accountable for its reception.
According to Greenblatt, “the international community is required to support minorities in Iran, especially Iranian Arabs, because they are the most disadvantaged members of society. Iranians also need to learn to respect each other and accept ethnic and linguistic diversity. They must rise above the conscious and unconscious bias against Arabs and respect all human beings.”
Farahmand Kalayeh, another member of the delegation, said that the Republican Congressman Patrick Meehan sponsored the event to give Iranian dissidents an opportunity to present realistic ideas to the US government on how to pressure the Islamic Republic as well as boosting the efforts of the Iranian opposition and people to overthrow the regime and install democracy in Iran.
Dissidents inside Iran and abroad
Kalayeh stated that the Iranian regime has been the main source of terrorism since it was founded in 1979. It has also murdered a lot of Iranian dissidents, both in Iran and abroad.
He pointed out that at the meeting there were personal stories of torture and systematic persecution, as well as historical accounts of mass execution of opponents in Iran. Indeed the Iranian regime uses execution as a political instrument to silence dissent.
According to Kalayeh, “the expansionism of the Islamic Republic has pushed us dangerously closer toward a regional war with our neighbors. This is not in the national interest of the Iranian people.”
He added that “the Islamic Republic feeds on crisis and interference in the affairs of its neighbors. Qatar is a classic example, which the Iranian regime has allied to itself through the common goal of supporting terrorism as well as sharing one of the greatest gas reserves in the world.”
Kalayeh concluded by proposing continued imposition of sanctions on the Iranian regime to block its financial system from major transactions around the world.