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NCRI-US Nowruz Event: Iranian Resistance Rises Against Oppression 

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The U.S. Representative Office of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI-US) held a Nowruz reception on March 21, 2023, at the Willard InterContinental Hotel in Washington, DC. The event was attended by renowned former U.S. officials from both sides of the aisle, who supported the Iranian people’s uprising and organized Resistance.  

During the event, Ms. Soona Samsami, the representative of the NCRI in the United States, spoke about the ongoing Iranian uprisings and the seismic changes that have taken place in Iran over the past year. She acknowledged that there were challenges ahead and that Tehran would continue to suppress dissent, but the Iranian Resistance was prepared to meet those challenges with courage and determination.  

She also underlined that the “Iran uprising has made it clear that the Iranian people reject all forms of dictatorships and have rendered futile the attempts to create a fake alternative by the remnants of Shah’s dictatorship.”  

“This has been clearly expressed in the slogans of ‘death to the oppressor, be it the Shah or the Leader,’ and ‘No Monarchy, No Theocracy, Yes to Democracy, Equality,’ which have been chanted all over the country. These slogans rendered futile the attempts to create a fake alternative by the remnants of the detested and deposed dictatorship of the Shah—and their collaborators—with the goal of derailing the ongoing revolution to overthrow the current theocracy in its entirety with all its factions and repressive forces,” Ms. Samsami added.  

The Honorable Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, former chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, addressed the reception and expressed her support for the people of Iran who want to rid themselves of the theocratical regime that restricts their freedom. 

“I had the honor of serving in Congress for almost 30 years. And in that time, from the very beginning to my last breath in Congress, I have stood by the freedom-loving people of Iran who want to get rid of those mullahs who want to restrict the freedom, and especially restrict the freedom of young girls, of women,” Hon. Ros-Lehtinen said. “We have seen them rising up at great peril. They could lose their lives, and many have. Their families will be persecuted, and they have. But they go on. And they’re fighting for each and every one of us.”  

Ambassador Robert Joseph, former Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, also addressed the Nowruz event and praised the Resistance Units in Iran for leading the fight for freedom. He stressed that the NCRI and its main constituent, the Mujahedin-e-Khalq organization, have a vision for a free, democratic, secular, and non-nuclear Iran that scares the regime the most, but it will ultimately prevail.  

Ambassador Joseph also stressed that Iranian people want a secular and democratic republic, adding that the “call of the Iranian people to reject dictatorship, whether religious or that of the Shah, is not just a slogan. It is a testament to the determination of the people to establish a free and democratic Iran. This represents a historic turning point. The regime will never be the same. It is now undeniable that the regime’s days are numbered.” 

Prof. Ivan Sascha Sheehan, the associate dean of the College of Public Affairs at the University of Baltimore, remarked that the tide is turning and that Tehran’s dictatorship would be replaced by a peaceful, inclusive, tolerant government that upholds human rights and maintains positive relations with the world. He emphasized that “Fewer U.S. officials are today questioning whether the ayatollahs will be toppled. The question now is when the regime’s collapse will occur and what can be done to prepare for it. The first thing policymakers can do is acknowledge that regime change from within need not result in chaos or a lateral shift from one antagonistic dictatorship to another. By recognizing the right of Iranian protesters to defend themselves, ramping up crippling sanctions, and by clamping down on the terror regime that calls itself the Islamic Republic, the U.S. can lead the world in isolating and weakening the ayatollahs by rendering them incapable of resisting the will of the Iranian people.” 

Professor Steven M. Schneebaum, a prominent international law expert and professor at the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University, spoke about his experience visiting Ashraf 1 and Ashraf 2 in Iran, and Ashraf 3 in Albania. He extended his Nowruz greetings to his Iranian friends fighting for freedom not only in Albania but also in Iran and other places. 

Colonel Wes Martin, former Senior Anti-terrorism and Force Protection Officer for all Coalition Forces in Iraq, also spoke at the event. He congratulated the Iranian people for their fight against oppression and tyranny and emphasized how the Iranian people are “saying NO to Khamenei.” “You are saying NO to the Pahlavi and the family of the Shah. You are saying NO to oppression. You are saying NO to tyranny. When I look at the history of Iran, I see no difference between the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and SAVAK and the Quds Force,” he added.  

Dr. Sofey Saidi, a member of the NCRI Foreign Affairs Committee, moderated the Nowruz reception and highlighted the leadership role of Iranian women in the current uprising. She referred to a speech by NCRI President-elect Mrs. Maryam Rajavi at an international event organized by the Iranian Resistance in Earls Court, London, in 1996. 

“In her landmark speech, Mrs. Rajavi elaborated that the mullah’s control over society is based on gender apartheid and in order to overturn the system of gender discrimination and bring about fundamental change, women should assume a leadership role,” she concluded.