Elisabetta Zamparutti is an official of Hands Off Cane, and a former member of the Italian Parliament
 
The sun was just creeping up over the desert sand one early morning in September 2013, a small encampment of Iranian refugees  in Iraq, Camp Ashraf, was fast asleep, but things changed in an instant. Iraqi soldiers, acting at the behest of the Iranian regime during the tenure of former Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki,  gathered the unarmed Iranians who fled persecution in their homeland seeking safe heaven, lined them up and executed them, extinguishing their lives. 
 
This horrific incident,  was the indirect work of an Iran regime flexing its muscle across the region by sewing the seeds of chaos and despair. The  52 victims, members of the People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran, the principal Iranian opposition movement, couldn’t fight, or speak up, like their brethren in Iran and those is most of the Middle East. On Sunday of June 13th however, Iranians spoke up and spread their message loudly and clearly: regime change in Iran. These Iranians and their international supporters, whose numbers were nearly 100,000 were joined in Paris by top politicians, military men, seasoned analysts and a number of public figures. They came from 70 countries to discuss topics that they feel have been pushed aside by the p5+1 powers who prefer the glory and convenience of a deal over the reality of the regime. From human rights within the country, to Iran’s sponsorship of Islamic terrorism and the nuclear issue, major figures and Iranian dissidents sought a serious forum to address these topics.
 
What makes the conference so important isn’t just the massive outpouring of support, or the fact that the nuclear deadline is approaching on June 30th – it’s the alternative view of Iran by an assortment of top figures that span the political spectrum. Whether Republican or Democrat, pro EU or anti, Iranian, or European, those participating agreed that the status quo was a road to nowhere.
 
When they asked, will the p5+1 take into consideration Iran’s egregious human rights violations at home, its cancerous spread across the region and it’s track record of deception on the nuclear issue? Speaker after speaker took this view with the hope that the momentum already built, with a supportive statement by over 220 MEPS and a bi-partisan congressional delegation would continue.
 
While highlighting these crucial issues, the attendees highlighted something else as well, without so much as a single word – the alternative. Each Iranian supporter trumpeted the merits of democracy, the evils of Islamic extremism and a sincere longing for Iran to rejoin the international community. More than that, they argued that though a deal which compromises on the p5+1’s most basic demands looks close to passing, the regime is on the precipice.
 
Record numbers of executions, continued mass incarcerations and a spread across the Middle East wasn’t a sign of strength, but rather one of weakness. Why they asked, would their cash strapped homeland expand the revolutionary guards while the needy starve in the streets? Their answer: for the appearance of power – and they might just be right.
 
Though many decision makers might disagree with those speaking, or participating in the conference, one thing is for sure. To ignore such a distinguished group of speakers and a grassroots outpouring on the Iranian issue, which is unparalleled in its scope, would be a  huge mistake.  
 
As Maryam Rajavi, the President -elect of the National Council of  Resistance of Iran pointed out to the leaders of five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany who are currently negotiating with Iran over its disputed nuclear program “If you do not want a nuclear-armed fundamentalist regime, stop appeasing it. Do not bargain over the human rights of the Iranian people and recognize their organized Resistance which is striving for freedom.”
 
It is time that we remind ourselves of our own democratic principles and the tough discussions they require, this is one of those discussions.

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