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‘One Solution, Revolution,’ Iranian Dissident Tells Copenhagen Democracy Summit

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Iranian journalist and activist Masih Alinejad called on Western leaders to challenge dictatorships worldwide and urged revolution as the only way to end authoritarianism, at the Copenhagen Democracy Summit on Tuesday, organized by activists.

The dissident, now living in exile, appealed to Western leaders to act together to impose sanctions on Iran and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). Referring to the agenda of the summit, mainly focused on the war in Ukraine, she said: “You’re not getting anywhere if you don’t stop the Islamic Republic.”

Iran, as Russia’s ally, has helped to build up a Russian arsenal since the invasion of Ukraine in 2022, namely Shahed-136 “suicide drones.” Russia has used hundreds of the drones against Ukraine’s civilian and infrastructure targets. Iran’s involvement in the war has strained relations with the West, resulting in sanctions and the freezing of Tehran’s nuclear deal.

“People across the globe are the victims of Islamic ideology, the Islamic Republic. If we want to end the war, then we have to end the Islamic Republic. That’s the only solution,” Alinejad stated.

To illustrate the brutality Iranian government forces use against protesters, Alinejad pointed to some Iranians in the audience who were injured or raped during the Woman Life Freedom movement, including young activists who lost an eye or a hand as a result of brute use of force by security agents.

During the monthslong nationwide demonstrations that were sparked by the death in custody of Mahsa Jina Amini in September 2022, more than 550 protesters were killed, including dozens of underage protesters.

In 2021, the US Department of Justice brought conspiracy charges against Iranian agents who attempted to kidnap Alinejad from New York and take her to the Islamic Republic. In 2023, the Justice Department filed charges in a murder-for-hire plot directed against her by the Iranian regime.

On Tuesday, Politiken Newspaper announced that Danish police advised them to move the planned event with Masih Alinejad to a safer location.

“Upon advice from Danish police, we have decided to move the planned Politiken event with her from a Copenhagen cinema with winding corridors and people weaving around each other and multiple cinema halls to Politiken’s House,” the newspaper wrote.

As the World Liberty Congress, Alinejad who is the president of the group, asked world leaders to join forces in the same way authoritarian regimes support each other.

“The dictators from China to Russia, Iran, and Venezuela are working together, helping to provide surveillance technology information for each other,” Alinejad said.

“Unfortunately, the United Nations has become a place to unite dictators, so we initiated our organization,” she added.

Alinejad defined the World Liberty Congress as an alternative to the United Nations and noted that it tries to connect democracy advocates around the globe. So far, it has “united more than 200 dissidents from 56 countries under the autocratic rule.”

Among her latest initiatives, she also pointed to United Against Gender Apartheid, which aims to promote the recognition of gender apartheid as a crime that falls within the same category as racial apartheid.

“In the 21st century, gender apartheid is not a crime under international laws,” she stated. “Women from Afghanistan and Iran want to ask the world leaders to expand the definition of apartheid to include gender as well.”

Through this campaign, women share details of the oppression they feel under these authoritarian governments, usually in the form of storytelling, while recording themselves.

According to the Global Economic Forum’s 2023 Global Gender Gap Report, Iran ranks 143rd out of 146 countries in terms of gender equality.

“Pakistan, Iran, and Afghanistan are at the bottom of both the regional and global ranking tables,” wrote the report.

During her speech, she also raised the issue of the Political Prisoners Support Campaign, which aims to attract international attention and advocate for those who are behind bars in non-democratic countries.

“There are more than 1 million political prisoners across the authoritarian regimes. Alexi was only one of them who got killed.”