Does The West Really Understand What Goes On In Iran?
|Monday, June 29,2009 02:07|
|By Nasima Yamchi|
Ian has made the headlines for the past weeks. What is happening in this country which maybe after North Korea and Myanmar is one of the most tightly controlled and monitored in the world, has provoked reactions from all sides. It is not a secret that the US government , its closest alley Israel and the West in general have sought to change the government in Iran in the past two decades. Their stand against the Iranian regime is of less dispute. What is of concern is the stand point of the “leftist” and anti- imperialist camp in general. I have been following the articles published by the informationclearinghouse and the amount of misunderstanding about what is really happening in Iran is amazing.
Many articles written promote some sympathy for the Iranian regime. I believe that this sympathy is rooted on one hand in the undemocratic , aggressive and unjust behavior of the West towards Iran and on the other hand on the anti-imperialist, anti-US rhetoric of the Iranian regime which has blinded some across the world. I firmly believe that the US administration, as the representative of neo-liberalism and the Iranian regime are both sides of the same coin. American governments, Democratic or Republican, all suppress the democratic rights of both their own citizens and other countries around the world. The history of previous and current century provides enough evidence for this claim.
The Iranian regime on the other hand does exactly the same. In Iran any opposition to the government is suppressed and confronted violently. The world was able to see how the police beat up the demonstrators and in response to this violence the supreme leader, Ayatalloah Khamenei, openly asked his forces to “teach the demonstrators a lesson they never forget.” The drums of democracy are played only when the need for such rhetoric arises. As a result supporting one against the other seems hypocritical.
A lot has been written about how democratic Iran has been in its elections compared to other Middle Eastern countries. To find out the truth about this claim let’s look at the election laws in Iran: 1) According to the Constitution all the candidates for any elections, parliament , presidency, mayors, etc, have to be approved by the Guardian Council; a body whose members are appointed by the supreme leader and other high ranking religious bodies. The council has been notorious in eliminating any candidate who they considered not to be ‘in line with Islamic government.’ 2) According to the Constitution no group or party can be founded unless they prove their allegiance to Islam, Islamic laws (Sharia’) and the principals of the Islamic Republic. As a result since the foundation of this regime in Iran “ real opposition” has not been able to regroup and raise their voices. I assume nobody in the world could call this procedure anywhere close to ‘democratic.’ This is as some of the protesters were saying : “selection not election” but it is selecting from among those who are already in the same camp.
At the moment people have taken to streets in big cities in Iran and demand a reelection. As a result Mr. Mousavi the defeated candidate, has become the symbol of democracy and reformist camp in Iran. I would like to mention some facts about this new “hero.” Mr Mousavi started his career in the hierarchy of the Islamic regime as the editor of “Jomhori-e-Eslami” newspaper the mouthpiece of the first party founded after the revolution carrying the same name. This party was home to the most conservative and reactionary faction of the Islamic regime from the very beginning. Khamenei the supreme leader and Rafsanjani are two of its most famous members. He was then prime minister -this post was later eliminated- between 1981 to 1988. The record of his government during this period among others includes the following:
Between 1981 to 1984 the regime hardened its position against the opposition which at the time consisted of mainly leftist groups. Mass arrests and executions became a routine during this time. In June 1981 about 300 political prisoners where executed on one day alone. Mass graves in the Eastern part of Tehran are the evidence of this barbarism.
During his time the so called “ cultural revolution” was masterminded by a committee including Rafsanjani, Mousavi. All universities and higher education institutions were shut down after bloody clashes for a week with the students, for about 4 years. During this time all those who “did not fit in the new system” were arrested, executed, forced to leave the country or banned from studying or working in public universities.
The so called “ Islamic Hijab” (head cover and dress code) was imposed during his time. Thugs took to the street attacking women, pouring acid in their faces and chanting humiliating slogans such as, “ either head cover or get hit in the head.” Women were arrested fired from their jobs and beaten up for not wearing Hijab.
The Islamic Sharia’ rules were imposed and replaced the civil laws. It was under these laws that the so called ‘religious police’ was formed. Their job is to patrol the streets to arrest, or beat up all those who do not observe Islamic dress code or behavior. Thousands of young men and women have ended up in jails, were lashed or had to pay heavy fines just because they dare to talk to each other in the streets.
Of course the list is much longer and the above mentioned are just some highlights of Mr. Mousavi’s record. Indeed all the other presidents in this regime have made sure that the glorious work of Mr. Mousavi in undermining basic human rights of people has been continued and enriched further!
It is ironic that today the prisons of the regime are filled with those who were once their staunch allies. Mr. Mousavi’s reformist appetite is limited when it comes to a real threat to the regime as a whole. Mr. Khatami showed his real allegiance when he did not support the demonstrations of university students in defending freedom of speech in Iran. Mr. Mousavi also has been silent when more radical move is required to confront the repression of the regime. Both of them sacrificed their followers when the protests reveal the extent of dissatisfaction of the majority of young people, who form more than 60% of the population. Mr Mousavi like the other opponents to Ahmadinejad knows that once the masses really take to the street they would demand more changes than the choice between worse and the worst.
It is, therefore, essential to distinguish a struggle for power and control of the country’s wealth from a struggle for more rights. It is equally essential to make sure that Mr. Ahmadinejad’s confrontation with US pressure is not taken as a progressive stand.