Large Scale Protests Against the Iranian Government
Pro-Democracy protest brings 15 000 to Berlin’s Brandenburg GateJuly 16th, 2019
On the 6th of July, large scale protests were held against the Iranian political system, with an estimated 15 000 people gathering at the iconic Brandenburg Gate.
It was a remarkable scene, with 1000s descending onto the landmark swathed in yellow, holding aloft banners and chanting pro-democratic slogans. It marked one in a series of global rallies against the Iranian regime, following rallies in Brussels and Washington DC respectively. They were catalyzed by Maryam Rajavi, the leader of the largest opposition group, the People’s Mujahedin of Iran (PMOI/MEK), calling on the Iranian diaspora to display their discontent for the current political situation.
Central to the protests is the indiscriminate use of the death penalty and widespread violations of human rights. The pro-democracy protestors demanded the recognition of the opposition coalition, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), led by the PMOI/MEK, and advocated its President-elect Maryam Rajavi. The protestors demanded the realization of their human rights and the implementation of democracy within the state. In a pre-recorded speech Rajavi called on “The dossier of human rights abuses and massacre of political prisoners in Iran must be referred to the UN Security Council” and declared “The religious fascism in Iran is the greatest threat to peace in the world today”. The former member of the U.S. Congress, Patrick Kennedy also delivered a speech, branding the government in Tehran as “the fascist dictators today”, while stating “We are at a historic point in history when it comes to the freedom of the people of Iran. This is not just a problem for Iranians to solve, it’s a problem for anyone in the world who cherishes freedom and who hates the tyrannical regime of the mullahs in Iran”. Member of the German Bundestag, Thomas Nord, emphasized the security threat the regime poses, stating “The Iranian regime is a threat to the world and is trying to acquire a nuclear weapon. We must do whatever we can to prevent the regime from acquiring a nuclear bomb to pose a threat to world peace,” and affirmed his commitment for democracy to take hold within the state. Across the protests, this was a central theme, that democracy was not only in the interests of the people of Iran but of equal importance to allow for international peace and security.
The rally was also used as an opportunity to call on the international community to do more in condemning the regime. Mirroring several banners which called on the European Union to adopt a film policy towards the state, the NCRI representative in Germany, Masumeh Bolurchi, stated: “We call on EU countries to put the MOIS and Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps on the list of terrorist organisations and expel their agents from their countries”. This was echoed by Rajavi, who emphasized the need for the International community to do more, “In this grand demonstration, your message and the message of the people of Iran to the world and particularly to Europe is this: Stop the policy of giving concessions to the religious dictatorship”. Hence, this outward display of discontent became an instance of intercultural diplomacy, in which the Iranian opposition could both display their anger at the current system and simultaneously demand more support from fellow states. This outward display of discontent with the current political order builds on the continued protests taking place within Iran, with numerous strikes and demonstrations occurring due to the economic situation, perceived government corruption and in opposition of Iranian involvement in regional conflicts.