Over 100 Former World Leaders Call on West to Hold Iran Accountable for Its Crimes Against Humanity

Former Vice President Mike Pence speaks at the annual leadership meeting of the Republican
AP Photo/John Locher

The Islamic Republic of Iran must be held accountable for its long-running crimes against humanity, according to over one hundred former world leaders in an open letter to the heads of the U.S., Canada, the EU, and the UK.

The letter, published on Tuesday, calls on President Joe Biden, European Council President Charles Michel, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, as well as the leaders of the 27 member states of the European Union, to support Iranian protesters while taking “decisive steps” against the current regime.

It begins by noting that over the past eight months the globe has witnessed a “sweeping popular uprising in Iran” that is demanding both freedom and democracy. 

Citing reports that suggest some 750 protesters have been killed and 30,000 arrested, the letter insists the international community “has a responsibility to support their human rights,” while clarifying that “any change should come from the people of Iran.”

“Decades of apparent silence and inaction by the international community have helped fuel a culture of impunity in Iran,” it states. 

Recalling the execution of “tens of thousands of protesters and political prisoners” over several decades, with over 30,000 political prisoners — mostly opposition MEK (Mujahadin-e Khalq) members — “brutally massacred” in the summer of 1988 alone, it declares that “hold[ing] the leadership of the Islamic Republic of Iran to account for its crimes” is long overdue.

Calling on Western leaders to “stand in solidarity with the people of Iran in their desire for a secular and democratic republic where no individual, regardless of religion or birthright, has any privilege over others,” the letter maintains the Iranian people must be able to “decide their future.”

“Through their slogans, the Iranian people have made it clear that they reject all forms of dictatorship, be it that of the deposed Shah or the current theocratic regime, and thus reject any association with either,” the open letter states.

It also recognizes that “for four decades, the democratic coalition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) has constantly and tirelessly pursued democratic change,” and expresses support for NCRI President Maryam Rajavi’s “Ten Point Plan,” which aims to ensure Iranians’ freedom of expression and assembly, as well as the right to choose their elected leaders, as part of the path toward a free, secular, and democratic Iran.

“Its commitment to free elections, freedom of assembly and expression, abolition of the death penalty, gender equality, separation of religion and state, autonomy for Iran’s ethnicities, and a non-nuclear Iran is in line with our own democratic values,” it explains.

The letter then condemns the Iranian regime’s “meddling in the Middle East and Europe, including its provision of drones to assist Russia’s war against Ukraine and its terrorist attempts and cyber-attacks in Albania.”

It concludes by urging Western leaders to “stand with the Iranian people in their quest for change and to take decisive steps against the current regime,” including “blacklisting the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) and holding regime officials accountable for their crimes against humanity.”

Among the over 100 signatories of the letter, including 50 former presidents and 47 former prime ministers, are former US Vice President Mike Pence, former British Prime Minister Liz Truss, former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and Italian ex-premier Matteo Renzi.

Last week, a joint congressional House caucus hearing voiced support for the Iranian peoples’ uprising, following a wave of recent executions by the Islamic regime in an attempt to contain unrest in the country.

The matter comes as protests continue to sweep Iran following the September death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini while in the custody of the Islamic theocracy’s notorious “morality police” for violating strict requirements for women to keep their heads covered in public.

Since then, a slew of incidents involving abuses and even deaths at the hands of the regime have been documented amid an ongoing clampdown on protests, with clips circulating showing Iranian regime officers brutally assaulting protesters.

On Friday, Iran executed three men convicted of killing security force members during protests triggered by Mahsa Amini’s death last year, the judiciary said, drawing condemnation from rights groups.

In March, a bipartisan House majority endorsed a resolution expressing Congress’s support for a democratic Republic of Iran while calling for a new Iran policy in light of continued protests by the Iranian people and increasing repression by the “theocratic thugs who have oppressed them for far too long.”

The resolution, sponsored by 223 U.S. House members, supports Iran’s uprisings for a secular republic, as well as the “Ten Point Plan.” 

Representatives of Iran’s parliament in exile (NCRI), have claimed Iran — the largest state sponsor of terrorism worldwide — is currently witnessing a revolution “in the making,” with the Islamic Republic no longer capable of containing the current uprising.

Previously, former VP Mike Pence accused the Biden administration of threatening to “unravel all the progress” the Trump administration made in marginalizing the Iranian regime.

He has also expressed undying support for Iranian resistance while blasting the Biden team’s new concessions to the “tyrants” in Tehran, its “virtual abandonment of our ally Israel,” and the “disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan,” which have emboldened the “adversaries of freedom” that now sense “weakness” in the American administration.

On Wednesday, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member Jim Risch (R-ID) slammed the Biden administration for “enabl[ing]” the theocratic regime.

“It’s been almost 2.5 years since Biden took office & this admin still does not have a coherent Iran policy,” he wrote. 

“Instead of continuing to enable the regime, the U.S. must reassert maximum pressure & deploy clear diplomatic, economic, & military deterrence,” he added.

Follow Joshua Klein on Twitter @JoshuaKlein.


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