To stay or not to stay
That is the dilemma
By Babak Mazarei
August 25, 2003
With the near passing of another summer, many Iranians
are still hoping to buy a one way ticket to Iran. As the days,
years compile, hope becomes rather a longing for the optimist,
and sadly, an illusion for the pessimist. As is the case with most
social topics that arise in the Iranian diaspora, returning has
evolved into a highly sensitive political act.
In the tradition
of a typical Manichean mindset that is not particular to, but certainly
characteristic of Iranians, two divergent, antethetical camps have
emerged and stubbornly imbedded their views on the subject.
camp considers returning to Iran under the current circumstances
a betrayal of the resistance movement for it provides the international
community with a particular misconception. The other camp, either
out of principle or practical utility brandishes the argument that
Iran has progressed and engagement with Iranian society by those
living in the diaspora will not impede, but rather encourage further
The general reaction throughout the Iranian diaspora
to the most subtle hints of subversive activities within Iran serves
as a testament
to the yearning desire of Iranians to return to a free Iran.
it is very unlikely that a change in the ruling establishment will
occur in the near future. The United States is facing serious difficulties
in completing its "campaigns of liberation" in both Afghanistan
and Iraq. The Bush Administration will not risk creating an active
and united Shiite opposition in both Iran and Iraq, further compounding
the issue of guerrila warfare that is now impairing its efforts
at "reconstruction", or rather re-exploitation in Iraq-an
offshooot of its economic dealings with Saddam Hussein in the 1980's.
Therefore, right now the resistance to the Iranian
dictatorship must rely solely on its own actions. The tragic death
Kazemi is a case in point. While the resistance movement tried
tirelessly to muster not only an international condemnation, but
also a discontinuation of political relations with the Iranian
regime, their efforts went largely uncompensated.
rhetoric of condemnation was expressed by Canadian officials, but
in the final analysis, Canada's department of foreign affairs expressed
its satisfaction at the "arrest of five people in the beating
death of the photojournalist". In other words, case closed,
let our respective states resume economic relations without the
hassle of human rights issues.
Although setting a time value on
the inevitable demise of the Islamic Regime would be unwise and
somewhat ahistorical, one can safely bet the current Iranian political
scene will remain as such for at least another few years. Therefore,
Iranians will continue travelling to and from Iran.
who travel to Iran simply because they can no
longer endure a complete detachment from their families does a
disservice to the confessed aim of all resistance movements both
inside and outside Iran; namely the pursuit of an environment in
which human rights are sacrosanct.
There occurs an inherent contradiction
and an overt hypocrisy when an individual or a group claims to
be for human rights, while simultaneously condemning fellow Iranians
for exercising a fundamental right. The right to freedom of movement
and residence within the borders of each state is explicitly expressed
in article 13.1 of the UN human rights declaration.
A counter argument may be that of
sacrificing immediate pleasures for long term goals. This proposition
fails on both a social level, and technically. With what authority
can one human being criticize another who behaves as a human should
without implying divine judgement. Suffice it to say, Iran's experience
with temporal divinity has not been pleasant.
On a technical level,
if one accepts the concept that "human rights cannot be but
universal, and any qualification added to it would only negate
its essence, then any criticism of mobility rights would simply
Incidentally, performances carried out abroad by
Iranian artists can
also be justified, insofar as artists do have the right to move
freely from one state to another. The argument would suit those
who condemned Parissa's concert aptly. They choose to boycott an
artists whose decision to engage with Iranians here in Ottawa instilled
positive energy into our community, among other things.
other hand, the same people purchase produce from Iranian grocers
here in Ottawa, thereby fulfiling their physiological needs. Have
they forgotten that Iranian foods sold abroad are often the product
of state-run or state-subsidized industry in Iran. Must we define
the term hypocrisy.
The policy of isolation and will-imposition is characteristic
imperial powers. Throughout much of the early twentieth century,
the British, applying the concept of white man's burden isolated
and exploited great portions of Africa. Today, the United States
is imposing sanctions on Cuba employing the same reasoning behind
the British concept.
That is, while our primary goal is one of
betterment of living conditions and a move towards democracy, we
will resort to undemocratic, often inhumane methods. Therefore,
the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children was justified
because the ends justify the means or as Madeleine Albright stated
in a 1996 interview on 60 Minutes, "we think the price is
The very sanctions that for decades have impaired
human development in both Cuba and Iraq could have been imposed
on Iran just as easily. Thusfar, Cuba has been able to thwart
American aggression because particular to Cuba, the foundation
of the state
is the Cuban people. Therefore, instead of creating social political
divisions in Cuba, the sanctions have further unified Cubans
belonging to various sectors of the population.
by a brutal dictatorship was not able to cope with the sanctions
because both the state, i.e. Saddam Hussein and a foreign
power were deadset on harming Iraqis. The effects of this two-edged
sword are self-evident.
Following from the above mentioned facts, the case
can be made that
without Iran's continual relations with European countries
after the Revolution, it too could have become a target of
resulting in the deaths of thousands of Iranians.
because the Reform movement in Iran has allowed an opening
of social relations between Iranian citizens and the outside
become a dubious task for the U.S. to brand Iran as a fundamentalist
country because Iranians obviously embrace and in fact
crave for U.S. popular culture and wish to model their political
a Western democracy much like the one in place in America.
Since 9/11 the importance of maintaing congenial
relations with Iranian
citizens, as opposed to cordial relations with the Iranian
state has become that much more important. Travel to
and from Iran
does just that, it allows ordinary Iranians to engage
on a personal level with relatives and foreigners.
these circumstances would be free of government censorship
constraints, and therefore truthful. Iranians and non-Iranians
and from Iran do not create the misconception that
a free society, rather, they bring abroad a true account
that an ordinary Iranian experiences.
Besides, if travel
to undemocratic states were to be discontinued then
would have to
be cut drastically because dozens of countries around
the world are undemocratic. Such a policy would only benefit
not the various civilian populations.Iran will one
day rejoin the international community as a
Attempts at improving human rights
conditions in Iran would go fruitless if those attempts are
characterized by actions that are in contradiction with fundamental
rights principles . Those who call for isolationist
Iran are in reality allowing the regime to butcher
or oppress Iranians
on a daily basis because the outside world would
be aware of the situation.
If one believes in common human
decency, then surely,
the weight of international opinion, supported
by endless accounts of injustices in Iran will contribute to
I detest what you say, but I would fight to the death your
right to say it. -- Voltaire
this page to your friends