Iranian Dissidents Urge Trump to Release Frozen Tehran Regime Assets Amid Renewed Student Protests

By Ben Cohen

Source: Algemeiner

More than 400 Iranian pro-democracy activists have signed an open letter to US President Donald Trump seeking American financial and political support to bring down their country’s ruling Islamist regime.

Around half of the letter’s signatories themselves live in Iran, with the remainder residing in Western countries — including Canada, the US, Australia and several European nations.

A student protest at Azad University in Tehran, Iran, Dec. 31, 2018. Photo: Screenshot.

The letter’s publication comes amid renewed student protests in Tehran. Amateur video that circulated on Monday showed Iranian security forces firing tear gas at hundreds of students demanding the resignation of top officials at Azad University in the capital.

The demonstrations followed last week’s bus crash in which 10 students were killed and 27 injured — which students activists blamed on an aging fleet of vehicles that are not properly maintained.

The coordinators of the letter — Shabnam Assadollahi, a former child inmate of Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison who is now based in Canada, and Marjaneh Rouhani, a US-based medical doctor and political activist — told The Algemeiner on Tuesday that their message to Trump was “an echo from the heart of Iran and the Iranians inside requested us to be their voice.”

The two activists also sharply criticized the coverage of Iran’s turbulent internal politics by the much of the Western media, saying that “in this crucial time where the aggressive and brutal Islamic regime is falling and MSM won’t give ANY coverage to their voice, instead they are echoing the so-called Islamic Republic’s reformists’ voice.”

The letter described Iran as having been “occupied” by Islamist forces, led by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, following the overthrow of the Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi in 1979.

“When Khomeini and his supporters occupied Iran in 1979, the Royal Army surrendered to prevent a Syrian-like civil war,” the letter argued. “Nonetheless, establishing a global Islamic state was declared the number one priority by the totalitarian regime.”

Expressing full support for exiled Crown Prince Reza Pahlavi’s proposal for free elections to replace the current regime, the letter remarked that “time after time, Iranians have declared the theocratic apartheid kleptocratic Islamic Republic illegitimate and expressed love and friendship for free nations.” The letter went on to urge that Iranian assets frozen abroad – approximately $2 billion of which are held by the US — should be turned over to opposition activists “to enable Iranians with their most trusted opposition leader to establish a federally supervised Trust Fund…these funds can be utilized to create a democratic Iran and build infrastructure after the Iranian people Reclaim Iran Again.”

Asserting that Pahlavi — the older son of the late deposed shah — was “Iran’s legitimate leader based on Iran’s Parliamentary Constitution and the Royal Oath Iranians respect,” the signatories said that the prince’s goal was “to free 80 million hostages (of the Islamic Republic) and peacefully transition Iran into a democratic state with free elections to establish a new secular democratic constitution.”

The letter praised Trump for being “the first world leader in 39 years who has the courage to speak to the Iranian nation directly, and hear their voices through the darkest veil of tyranny of Islamic State of Occupied Iran.”

Last May, Trump withdrew the US from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, reimposing tough sanctions on the Tehran regime. However, the administration has so far refrained from adopting an explicit policy of regime change in Iran, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo saying on Nov 4. that the goal of the new sanctions was to compel the “terror regime” to “change its behavior.”

In their email exchange with The Algemeiner, Assadolahi and Rouhani insisted that the “reformists who are part of this establishment” — a reference to key Iranian politicians like President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, both of whom are widely depicted as “moderates” — “have blood on their hands.”

“Today it is time for them and the regime which Khomeini was so instrumental in establishing to be completely abolished,” the two activists stated.