Shah's son speaks in Newport hotel

His topics include democracy, human rights and political developments in Iran. July 27 marks the 30th anniversary of his father's death in exile.

July 21, 2010|By Mona Shadia,

NEWPORT BEACH — Reza Pahlavi II, the former crown prince and son of the late shah of Iran, envisions a day when the Iranian people's votes will be the driving force of their government.

It is a dream he shared with about 300 people, mostly Iranian-Americans, at the Fairmont Newport Beach Hotel, when he spoke Tuesday night about democracy, human rights and political developments in Iran as the guest of the World Affairs Council of Orange County.

"Change can only happen from within Iran," he told the Daily Pilot before his speech. "You already have the best instrument for change: It's the people of Iran."

Seeming passionate about the country he has been banned from since his father's U.S.-backed autocratic regime was overthrown during the 1979 Iranian Revolution, Pahlavi, 49, said change will not take place unless Iranians stand together as one and enlist the young adults who are willing to spill their blood for the freedom of their nation.


"Iran will not hesitate to kill as many Nedas as it can to preserve its power," he said in reference to Neda Soltani, whose death from a gunshot wound during the 2009 Iranian election protests was filmed and shown around the world.

But pressure from within, and support from the outside, can eventually break down the theocracy that has been ruled by Shia clerics for three decades, he said.

Pahlavi doesn't believe outside militaries should intervene in Iran but he wants the world to support those who are willing to risk their lives on the inside.

"Our issue is not just to put an end to this regime, but to ensure that the alternative government would end up being democratic," he said, adding that for Iran to progress it must do so with a secular government that separates church and state.

Using South Africa as an example, Pahlavi said Apartheid in that country ended when the whole world joined together to support its oppressed population.

But he warned that

sanctions should not be looked at as a means to an end.

"I've always maintained that sanctions, although an instrument to an end … cannot be an end itself," he said. "It can be effective in the long run, but punitive measures end up frustrating and affecting society itself."

The United Nations recently passed economic sanctions to punish Iran for its refusal to back off its nuclear program.

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