A group of protesters chant slogans at the old grand bazaar in Tehran, Iran, Monday, June 25, 2018. Protesters in the Iranian capital swarmed its historic Grand Bazaar on Monday, news agencies reported, and forced shopkeepers to close their stalls in apparent anger over the Islamic Republic's troubled economy, months after similar demonstrations rocked the country. (Iranian Labor News Agency via AP)
The calls for freedom in Iran are growing louder.
Thousands of protesters gathered outside Paris for the annual meeting of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, the largest Iranian opposition group. Its followers, and others, have been staging months of anti-regime protests. This weekend the group predicts that change will be coming to Iran.
"The objective of the Iranian people, and those who protest against the regime, is establishing freedom, democracy ... and a non-nuclear Iran," says Maryam Rajavi, the leader of the group. “The Iranian people support the policy of the United States that support the Iranian people.”
“The Iranian people support the policy of the United States that support the Iranian people.”- Maryam Rajavi
In an exclusive interview with Fox News, Rajavi criticized the international community's approach to Tehran, arguing that the recent approaches that have opened a floodgate of billions of dollars for the regime, have only bolstered a murderous and terrorism exporting theocracy that continues to maintain a stranglehold on the Iranian people.
"The problem with this regime is not limited to its nuclear and ballistic missile programs. More important, is the systematic and flagrant violations of human rights in Iran. The decisive factor which for many years has been ignored, is the Iranian peoples’ resistance and the nationwide uprising," she says.
"The policy of appeasement has been helpful to the Iranian regime to stay in power and at the same time is central to the Iranian people's struggle for freedom. The only way to rectify the adverse consequences of these three decade old policies for the Iranian people and the resistance, is to recognize the Iranian resistance and overthrow the ruling autocracy."
The group has long been supported by a variety of American public officials and politicians, who also attend and address the gathering. Among those who share the organization's aims, range from President Trump's lawyer, former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, to U.N. Ambassador and former Democratic Governor of New Mexico Bill Richardson, among others from both sides of the aisle.
In a statement released by the group called "Free Iran, The Alternative," 34 of the American supporters praised the continued street protests, saying that they "are a plea for freedom from a captive nation."
"A five thousand-year-old Persian culture that brought mankind great advances in medicine, mathematics, algebra, chemistry and philosophy has been left behind in the modern world, and Iran today is plagued by poverty, unemployment and a crisis of mismanaged water resources. Our country supports the people of Iran, not their morally bankrupt regime, whose only legacy is a police state at home and proxy terrorist militias abroad."
The U.S. delegation also accuse "the American press and foreign policy community," of downplaying the role of Rajavi's group, and call for the U.S. to support it.
"The resistance movement has demonstrated its widespread roots within Iranian society, its resilience in the face of unimaginably difficult circumstances, its impressive organizational prowess, and its ability to expose secrets that Tehran is determined to keep from the Iranian people and the world at large."
In her interview, Rajavi also told Fox News that President Trump's summit and his opening negotiations with North Korea's dictator Kim Jong Un, have sent shockwaves through the Tehran regime.
"The Mullahs deeply regret and are terrified of the possible change in North Korea because this experience no longer justifies the continued appeasement of the Iranian regime," she says. "Until the day they are toppled, the Mullahs will neither give up their nuclear program nor their suppression of the Iranian people."
The Iranian government has long branded Rajavi's group as a terrorist organization, saying that is on a mission to topple the country's theocratic leadership. Rajavi says Iranian officials clearly consider her organization as a serious threat to the regime.
"Such propaganda shows the regime's fear of our movement. They try to say there is no viable opposition and alternative to the regime, in order to conclude that dealing with the regime is the only option. But this tactic no longer works."
It has been almost four decades since the Iranian hostage crisis in 1979 paved the way for the Islamic takeover of the country. Yet Rajavi is confident that the regime's days are now numbered.
"The Mullahs regime is the center of export of terrorism and fundamentalism. Therefore, regime change and its overthrow is in favor of the Iranian people, the people of the region and the people of the United Sates and the whole world"
One prominent American supporter, Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton, has attended the gathering in France for many years and addressed the group. While he has strongly backed Mrs. Rajavi’s efforts, he is absent because he now serves as President Trump’s National Security Advisor.
Ben Evansky contributed to this report