Former Iranian President Abou El Hassan Bani Sadr took part in the anti-Shah student movement during the early 1960s. He accompanied Ayatollah Khomeni home from exile in 1979 and was elected President in 1980. He was impeached and was forced to flee to France where he now lives. He gave euronews his insight into the current political turmoil.
euronews: Thank you for agreeing to meet and talk to euronews. Do you think it is a good thing that Iran is headline news in the media.
Abou El Hassan Bani Sadr: Yes, certainly because this time it is different. When Iran has been headline news before it has been about the Atomic bomb, repression or other crisis in the country. But this time it is a movement of the people who want a democracy, a freedom which they are sure they can obtain if they look for it.
euronews: : There have always been protest movements in Iran. Why is there hope today of change?
Abou El Hassan Bani Sadr: This time, yes it is true it is an enigma. Will the two candidates who are protesting stay at the heart of the regime like the former President Khatami or will they go out to the people. If they act like Khatami acted during his regime when he put an end to the movement and caused a split it was the beginning of the end. No it is clear that the people hope for reform, nothing else, no other political resolution to the problems of Iran.
euronews: Do you think Khameni will accept what the people want or will he send in the Pasadaran the guardians of the revolution to suppress the movement.
Abou El Hassan Bani Sadr: At the moment the guardian of the revolution are always there, they are never absent, repressive forces are always there, every day in the different towns of Iran they stop the people getting together and they will continue to do it. That is the problem. With that inner weakness I don’t think they can. I don’t believe there is any other way open other than to persuade the two candidate to give up.
euronews: Is it possible that can happen?
Abou El Hassan Bani Sadr: It is possible, it is possible because you cant stay at the heart of a regime and oppose Khameni who has complete power it is very difficult.
euronews: If no political solution is found will there be a blood bath?
Abou El Hassan Bani Sadr: A blood bath no I don’t believe there will be one. If the movement continues the way it has been going the repressive forces will not dare to shoot into the crowd. There would be many deaths. They would say eight have been killed other information would say thirty two. But a blood bath that is something different.
euronews: Apart from President Sarkozy in France who criticised the election there is a wait and see attitude. President Obama has not been aggressive while the other European leaders haven’t shown their teeth on this.
Abou El Hassan Bani Sadr: It is preferable that there is no interference. President Obama should stay neutral. Imagine a young Iranian who leaves home knowing that he may be shot at if he expresses his views and he asks is it happening for what he believes or is it because of the interests of foreign powers. If he has doubts he will certainly That is why I am demanding that the head of foreign countries don’t intervene or protest against the suppression. There are many human rights organisations, it is they who should protest. The people must understand that they are the ones who will decide, and it is them who must act and act for their rights.
euronews: You have been away from Iran for 28 years. Do you think you have a role in a movement in which 50 per cent of the young people were born after the revolution and don’t know the people who made the revolution possible.
Abolhassan Bani Sadr: In the first instance the spontaneous uprising was my idea. People didn’t believe and the whole world said Iran was not ready for the revolution and that it was not the solution. For 28 years I have said that it was only the uprising that could regain freedom for the people and today it is the people again who can do that and that proves I was right. Is it the people who have done this because I talked about the uprising. No but I said something that was right.
euronews: What can stop this uprising today?
Abolhassan Bani Sadr: First of all if the regime decides to annul the elections and then hold new ones that would bring great joy to the people and bring and end to this uprising. Secondly an unprecedented repression but I don’t believe the regime would do that now. And thirdly the two candidates Karroubi and Mousavi give up their protest and the people would see that they didn’t have the backbone to fight.
euronews: Thank you very much for answering our questions on euronews and thank you for speaking to us in your home