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Exiled Iranian Opposition Figures Release Charter For “Free, Democratic” Iran

March 10, 2023
3 min read
The four-page document, dubbed the “Mahsa Charter,” lists democratic governance, human rights and human dignity, justice, peace and security, environmental sustainability and economic transparency as shared values
The four-page document, dubbed the “Mahsa Charter,” lists democratic governance, human rights and human dignity, justice, peace and security, environmental sustainability and economic transparency as shared values

Six exiled Iranian opposition figures have come together to publish a joint “Charter of Solidarity and Alliance for Freedom” setting out proposals for the establishment of a “free and democratic Iran” after the Islamic Republic falls.

The four-page document, dubbed the “Mahsa Charter,” lists democratic governance, human rights and human dignity, justice, peace and security, environmental sustainability and economic transparency as shared values.

The charter was put together by the Alliance for Democracy and Freedom in Iran of former crown prince of Iran Reza Pahlavi, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi, the ex-president of the Association of Families of Flight PS752 Victims Hamed Esmaeilion, actress and rights activist Nazanin Boniadi, activist and journalist Masih Alinejad and the leader of the Komala Party of Iranian Kurdistan Abdullah Mohtadi.

The six figures discussed the future of the country’s pro-democracy movement during a meeting hosted by Georgetown University last month.

Their proposals come amid more than five months of pressure from protesters who are demanding fundamental economic, social and political change after over four decades of clerical rule under the Islamic Republic.

The country has been swept by anti-government protests since the September death of a 22-year-old woman, Mahsa Amini, in the custody of morality police. She had been arrested for "improperly" wearing a mandatory Islamic head scarf, or hijab.

The authorities have responded to the women-led protest movement with a bloody crackdown in which more than 520 people have been killed and over 19,000 have been illegally detained, including protesters, journalists, lawyers and activists, according to human rights groups. After biased trials, the judiciary has handed down stiff sentences, including the death penalty, to protesters.

According to the authors of the “Mahsa Charter,” “the way to building a free and democratic Iran is to overcome the Islamic Republic regime,” and the first step on the road to “democratic change” is to isolate its government internationally.

This would include imposing international pressure on the Islamic Republic to halt all death sentences and to immediately release all political prisoners, and consulting with democratic governments to expel the Islamic Republic’s ambassadors from their respective countries.

The “Mahsa Charter” says that subsequent actions should focus on “fair transitional justice, the formation of a council for the transition of power, and the means by which power is transferred to a secular, democratic government” – all this with the participation of activists inside Iran.

The charter calls for determining the form of government by referendum, establishing a “secular-democratic system,” based on the principle of separation of religion from government, in which all state officials are picked through a free election process.

Citizens of “all beliefs, ethnicities, gender and sexual orientation” should be granted equal rights, while “diversity in language, ethnicity, religion and culture” should be accepted.

The authors call for the organization of democratic elections to form a “Constituent Assembly” tasked with producing a new constitution that adheres to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights “in its entirety.”

The charter ends with a call on all Iranians committed to freedom to unite against the Islamic Republic’s “tyranny.”

“The courage of the people of Iran and their persistent fight for freedom shall be the bright beacon of hope for our future. Let us stand united in the creation of a free tomorrow,” it reads.

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