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'Iranians are ready to change this regime': Nazanin Afshin-Jam

- Reuters

People in Iran want freedom and Nazanin Afshin-Jam believes it’s only a matter of time before they get it.

The human rights activist, Stop Child Executions co-founder and author of A Tale of Two Nazanins, was born in Iran, but her family fled persecution that arose following the 1979 revolution. At the time her father had been general manager of the Sheraton Hotel in Iran.

“The new rules were ambiguous and changing by the day. He was not going to stand for the new Islamist decrees being forced on the nation including banning the mingling of men and women, forcing women to cover up, banning music and alcohol. It was business as usual in his hotel.”

So revolutionary guards arrested him, tortured him and were going to execute him. Before that could happen the family fled to Spain and immigrated to Canada a year later.

Afshin-Jam now lives in Toronto with her husband, former Central Nova MP Peter MacKay, and their three children, but her family still has relatives and friends in the country and has been closely following the most recent news events including the American assassination of General Qasem Soleimani on Jan. 3, Iran’s admission that it accidentally shot down a plane of civilians and the protests that have followed.

“When I first learned of the plane crash I was shocked and deeply saddened like all Canadians,” she said.  “I read the profiles of the victims one by one. My heart was especially torn for those who lost their child and spouse on the aircraft and are now left alone.”

On that plane were many professionals, doctors, scientists, engineers and professors who contributed to the betterment of Canadian society and humankind, she said.

When experts on civil aviation started to rule out engine failure and reported the rapid descent of the aircraft was consistent with an explosive of some kind Afshin-Jam immediately suspected it was the fault of the Iranian regime.

“The country has been in a constant state of mourning over the last 40 years since the Islamic Revolution."

“When it was confirmed, I was not shocked. Rather, I was furious. Once again the incompetent, negligent and corrupt regime was responsible for the loss of innocent lives,” she said. “The country has been in a constant state of mourning over the last 40 years since the Islamic Revolution. Death upon death, one tragedy after another. Iran was still mourning the more than 1,500 peaceful protesters that were killed by regime officials in November over a few days. “

While some portrayed Soleimani as a hero, for many in Iran he was anything but, she said.

“I would have loved Soleimani to have been tried in an international tribunal at The Hague for crimes against humanity, I am not saddened by his departure,” she said. “The world is a far safer place without this terrorist. Most Iranians were celebrating his death but naturally they have anxiety over the reprisals. The vast majority of Iranians loathe the IRGC, its Quds force and the regime of the Islamic Republic.”

She said life for the average person in Iran is still as oppresed as when her father left.

“Ethnic and religious minorities are persecuted, women are valued as half a man under the law and are discriminated against. Homosexuals are subjected to the death penalty including juveniles. Freedom of expression is curtailed with journalists and lawyers arrested and imprisoned as political prisoners. This theocratic regime is corrupt and tyrannical and must end. Iranians are ready to change this regime. It is not a matter of if but when.”

She believes that change is coming and that Iranian people do not want the Islamist regime in power any longer.

“They want a free, Democratic Iran with a constitution based on the universal declaration and the rule of law. They want an end to this tyrannical regime that suffocates their voices and way of life on a daily basis. They want freedom, quality of life and to be able to care and provide for their families. Everything we want and have here in Canada.”

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