Ekbatan Observer

Chronicling Iran's struggle towards political emancipation

29 September 2006

On the Edge of the Precipice

By: Reza Bayegan

A while ago, commenting on the wisdom of the restoration of the monarchy, Abolhasan Banisadr, the exiled ex-President of the Islamic Republic, declared that Iranians do not want to return to their old vomit. I believe a great many Iranians including myself share with him a similar repugnance towards the revisiting of old disgorgements. On the other hand, Mr Banisadr’s political record indicates that he cannot tell the difference between abdominal rejects and a gourmet dinner. Fighting with such an appetite to establish a mediaeval style clerical dictatorship, he could not have opted for an older vomit. Mr Banisadr also cannot bring himself to admit that in spite of the revolution and twenty-eight years of relentless convulsion, the old vomit has not only not disappeared from the Iranian scene, it has become increasingly more noxious and widespread. In fact, on the eve of the revolution the same old attitudes that Iranians were dreaming of eradicating, the same old vile habits have jumped back into new jars with different colours and impressive sounding new labels.

Like his predecessor, the current president of the Islamic Republic also likes to blame the past for his failure to deliver on his promises of a better future. On his recent trip to New York, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad sanctimoniously upbraided Americans for imposing the Shah. If the Shah however was imposed, and was the virus the propaganda machine of the Islamic Republic at every opportunity declares he was - how come since his departure the country not only has not recovered, but also has deteriorated dramatically? If the Shah was an agent of foreign powers and the mullah’s regime the true guarantor of Iranian independence why have Iranians not felt freer, safer, prouder and healthier (physically and morally) since the establishment of the Islamic Republic? Statistics are there; the number of dead, maimed, addicts, prostitutes and political-economic refugees are there.

Mr Ahmadinejad, if you could get down from your ideological high horse for a moment and invoke some common sense, perhaps through the manipulation of your ubiquitous rosary, you might be able to see that the Shah was forced out of the country exactly when he was becoming the mainstay of our true national independence. The great powers saw him more and more as an obstacle in the way of their economic and political domination of our country.

Our problem was not with the Shah, who after all had ‘heard the voice of the revolution’ or the immemorial monarchical system. Our problem was with an attitude. Contrary to Mr Banisadr’s claim however, this attitude was not part and parcel of the monarchy but imbedded in the collective behaviour of many of our countrymen.

During the revolutionary turmoil of 1979, no matter what kind of inchoate demands the multitude of people in the streets of Tehran and other Iranian cities were screaming out, what they were after was a change of attitude. The urgent desire for this change was the corollary of country’s economic and cultural development. In assessing recent Iranian history, nothing is more mindless than thinking that it was the fast pace of modernization that led to the revolution. Time and again we are told that Iran was going forward too fast. One should rather reflect on the basis of what ethical and human values this moving forward was being carried out. Iranians revolted not against the fast pace of development, but against uprooting of their identity and against a moral bankruptcy whose main beneficiaries were those Iranians with fat bank accounts in Switzerland and other financial havens.

The old rotten attitude of putting one’s selfish short-term interest above the good of the nation became endemic amongst the ruling establishment prior to the revolution. This poisonous attitude was responsible for driving a wedge between the Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and his nation. Iranians mistakenly identified many shortcomings and aberrations with the Shah himself. They felt betrayed and alienated from their monarch.

Today, amongst the exiled Iranian opposition, variants of the same selfish attitude persist. Many of its so called prominent members are shouting at the top of their voices for a regime change in Iran without willing in any way to alter their own loathsome habits and behaviour. They are fighting an acrimonious fight amongst each other over issues they have no mandate to consider let alone settle.

Indeed, a return to monarchy is dangerous for the narrow interests of those who thrive on anarchy and opportunism. Mr Banisadr who in justification of the veil is known to have said that women’s hair radiates a special seductive ray cannot but oppose any type of government that marches towards progress and enlightenment. As far as the rest of the country is concerned however our nation is faced with an unprecedented crisis. We are inching closer and closer to the point of no return. Our country is not only in danger of foreign intervention, but also is threatened by the nightmare of domestic disintegration.

Today a great number of Iranians unburdened by fanatical blinkers and deeply worried about the destiny of their homeland share a similar vision for breaking out of the present deadlock. To these people a new emergency measure that unites all the opposition under the active leadership of Reza Pahlavi seems increasingly like the only viable option for the survival of Iran’s national integrity.

Tragically on the edge of the precipice and in the midst of one of their most crucial historical periods, Iranians are again separated from their king. They are separated by the unendearing miles of exile. They are separated by the relentless blast of the propaganda machine of the Islamic Republic. They are separated by the constant canker of an otiose and faithless opposition.

Iranians are fast running out of time waiting for the representative of their most ancient political tradition to ignite a new hope and spearhead a new plan of action for defeating the clerical dictatorship. Iranians urgently need to hear Reza Pahlavi’s reassurance that although he belongs to an old political tradition, he represents a new and fresh approach. Reza Pahlavi cannot fulfil this mission without pulling together all his possible resources and coming forward with all the strength called for by the urgent nature of the situation. He has to concentrate more on gaining the trust of the Iranian people than on addressing himself to this or that international audience.

Our past defeats as the opposition force to the mullahs, should teach us to seriously clean up the proverbial old vomit from our modus operandi. Today we cannot stand on ceremony with tendencies and attitudes that time and again have landed us in the ruins of humiliation and defeat. Today our choice is clear. Either we can work together under a united and strong leadership, holding hands in solidarity like brothers and sisters to secure the survival and freedom of our homeland or we shall (in words of Martin Luther King) ‘all perish together as fools’. History will judge the effectiveness of Reza Pahlavi’s leadership on how strongly and clearly he can convey his vital message of hope and unity to the Iranian people. He is faced with the monumental task of truly earning the greatness of the titles passed down to him by inheritance.

12 September 2006

I confess

By: Reza Bayegan

And the significance of this great organization, gentlemen? It consists in this, that innocent persons are accused of guilt, and senseless proceedings are put in motion against them..."
The Trial
Franz Kafka

BBC news reported on August 30 that Ramin Jahanbegloo, Iranian writer and university lecturer had been released from prison. He was kept behind bars for four months without ever being charged. It went on to say that ‘A senior Iranian official from within the judiciary had been quoted as saying earlier in August that Mr Jahanbegloo had confessed to attempting to undermine Iran's system of clerical rule, and had made an apology’. Reading this report I asked myself that given immunity from prosecution, what intelligent Iranian could be found who would not put his or her signature under this confession? If Mr Jahanbegloo’s attempt to put an end to the rule of the mullahs is a crime, then this crime is universal amongst all those Iranians who love their country and care for its future.

Accordingly, it occurred to me to write my own confession and I would also like to suggest to my dear compatriots to sit down and make a disclosure of their political stance right now so if and when the time comes for their Evinization, they have one less thing to worry about. Moreover, as we all know, the overwhelming atmosphere of that infamous penitentiary is not conducive to expressing one’s true convictions and beliefs. One is exposed to a kind of hospitality there that makes one confess to non-existent wrongdoings out of obligation to one’s host. Mr Jahanbegloo, like many of his predecessors has performed the due customary leave-taking ritual. In an interview with Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA) he followed the script his jailers handed to him and swapped - at least for now - that smaller prison in northern Tehran for a much bigger one holding 68.8 million inmates.

Mr Jahanbegloo has confessed to having undermined the clerical rule. The Concise Oxford Dictionary defines ‘undermine’ as: ‘Damage or weaken, especially gradually or insidiously’. Today, when we look at many valiant Iranians struggling to bring about a democratic transformation in our homeland, we see that rather than trying to weaken and damage the clerical rule gradually or insidiously, they have for years worked openly with whatever peaceful means at their disposal to effectuate its demise as thoroughly and rapidly as possible.

I confess that I identify with an ever-increasing group of Iranians who work towards the downfall of the clerical regime as their foremost national responsibility. Albeit peacefully, they go about this task with the same determination as any French nationalist must have felt in damaging and weakening the Vichy government in the 1940s or with the same spirit as any conscientious citizen of South Africa up to 12 years ago was moved to uproot the apartheid regime.

In their perilous strife against the dictatorial regime, Iranian patriots are heartened by the belief that when eventually their efforts succeed in putting an end to the present political nightmare, the national joy caused by this victory would be unprecedented in the history of our country. The genuine forces of change oppose the clerical rule in order to preserve the true interests of the Iranian nation, believing wholeheartedly that these interests are diametrically opposed to the survival of the present system.

I for one confess that I am not an agent of any foreign government. I have never received a penny or been duped into accepting any assistance in any shape or form from any person or country for my political activities. I believe that the regime in Iran brands any thought that are not in agreement with its own fanatical ideology as sponsored by foreign governments.

I believe that the great mistake of many patriotic Iranians since the 1979 revolution has been to let the regime survive for fear of jeopardising Iran’s national independence. We have let the mullahs rule over our country because we have been scared to death of foreign intervention. The relentless crisis-manufacturing machine of the clerical regime has produced international confrontations around the clock forcing Iranians to postpone their liberty in favour of other national priorities. We have been brainwashed into the moral resignation that a third choice is not on the cards. This either/or scenario promoted by the regime has been reinforced in the Iranian consciousness by the behaviour of those bogus political activists who have looked up to the United States for their bread and butter and the delivery of their self-important pipe dreams. Iranians feel themselves squeezed between a ruling tyranny and a lusting after power villainy.

A great many Iranians today have reached the political maturity to realize that they do not have to choose between living under the yoke of the mullahs or selling their country to the foreigners and their autochthonous agents. We need again to dream of liberty instead of abandoning our souls to tyranny and despair. The history of mankind provides us with ample evidence that the cumulative dream of individuals eventually congeals into a national reality. Dreaming of liberty elevates our souls to a height that does not allow us to be in any foreign power’s pocket, and at the same time provides us with the confidence to live in peace and mutual cooperation, with the rest of the world.

I confess that no matter how many times I have to go through what Ramin Jahanbegloo and many others have gone through, or even face tragic experiences of patriots such as Akbar Mohammadi, I am unable to cease my struggle for an Iran that is free, independent, peaceful and prosperous. I am not boasting of any extraordinary courage, but merely owning up to a human instinct that is inextinguishable. Borrowing from Sir Thomas More’s words in a letter written to his daughter Margaret from the Tower of London, I confess to endeavour to be my country’s true citizen. I do none harm. I say none harm. I think none harm. And if this be not enough to keep a man alive, then in good faith, I long not to live…