Iranian National Congress Works to Bring Democracy to Iran

October 29, 2000

Source: Los Angeles Times

On October 29, 2000, the Los Angeles Times reported that a local Iranian-American group is fighting for democracy back in Iran. The Iranian National Congress formed last year and, according to its backers, "is an effort to unite what has often been a fractured Iranian opposition abroad. 'We believe in the right of the Iranian people to choose a democratic government for themselves,' said Behzad Tabatabaei, a doctoral student at UCLA who serves as the group's chief information officer. The congress, supporters say, is composed of representatives from many groups, reflecting the Iranian population's cultural and religious diversity... Although Iran is a predominantly Muslim nation, its population includes substantial numbers of Christians, Jews, Baha'is and others. Ethnic groups include Armenians, Kurds and Turks. Speakers and participants during Saturday's session decried the lack of freedom in contemporary Iran. The Iranian regime has shut down more than a dozen newspapers and jailed opposition leaders since the victory of reformist politicians in parliamentary elections earlier this year. 'We do not have freedom of the press in Iran,' said Mojgan Moghadam, who works for the Persian- and English-language press in the United States... 'We are trying to send a message that we are pro-democracy--not just representing a particular faction,' said Mohammad T. Moslehi, a translator based in Southern California. Among the Iranian National Congress' central goals are the establishment of a parliamentary democracy in Iran and the separation of state and religion. A major aim of the congress is to spread knowledge of the repressive nature of Iran's current rulers."