Not so far fetched
The wonderful thing
about the Velvet Revolution
By Cyrus Rasti
May 2, 2004
Recently I had arrived back stateside
from a trip to the Czech Republic. There I had gone to unwind in
this charming Central European country, which is smaller than my
home state of Pennsylvania. I regard this up and coming nation
of around 10 million as my second or third country and whether
it is second or third really depends on my mood and various perceptions.
Before I go into the gist of what I want to go into, I would like
to provide the readers some background information on the Czech
Czech Republic is a land locked nation in Central
Europe that is surrounded by Germany in the West, Poland in the
East, and by both
Austria and Slovakia in the south. It used to be known as Czechoslovakia
until the two, Czech and Slovakia had separated into two distinct
nations in January of 93.
The country was part of the Iron Curtain in which
the Soviet Union was more or less calling the shots in the political
and economic affairs of the country. The country was in the communist
block of nations that were relatively isolated from the free world
and were stagnating behind while their neighbors were growing and
But at last the Czech dream of ridding themselves
of a hated regime and replacing it with a democratic one was realized
in 1989 due
to the efforts of a dissident playwright by the name of Vaclav
Havel who had later become the president. One must also give credit
to Michael Gorbachev who had set the conditions for the collapse
of communism in Europe, various American presidential administrations
and many other governments and institutions.
The wonderful thing
about the Velvet Revolution as it was called, was that it was for
the most part a non-violent revolt. In that time period the political
dynamics in Eastern Europe had changed so much in so little time.
It was a time of great happiness and optimism for the youth and
uncertainty for the older generation.
For much of the 90's, the transition to a
democratic nation with a free market economy was bumpy for a significant
of the general public. The older generation had grown accustomed
to all sorts of social benefits, which had gotten whittled down
to conform to a more West European model. The Czechs also had a
hard time opening up to new ideas and new people. This was evident
in their relative racism, preconceived notion of foreigners and
resistance to implementing needed changes.
From around forty years of communist rule till 1989
and then on to the 90's
and today, the nation has indeed gone along way. As of now the
Czech Republic is a democratic nation, with a growing free market
economy, freedom of the press and also is a member of NATO and
a new member of the European Union. Through openness in trade and
politics and travel, the dynamics of the Czech mentality is changing
for the better. All of these positive developments took more than
a decade in the making and it goes to show that a successful democracy
takes many years of trial and error and is full of growing pains.
Now as to why I'm focusing on the Czech Republic
and why it is close to my heart is that I had lived there for many
I was a medical student there and over the years I had witnessed
the changes in the country and in the people. I had gotten to
know the language, the culture and tradition of the Czechs. But
is a different story, which I hope to share with the readers
in the not too distant future!
The people of Iran are going through a very difficult
period in their lives. Their experience is in parallel with what
had to deal with and that is they are living under a regime
that is widely detested. The totalitarianism of the current religious
theocracy has led to a stagnant economy, very little room for
positive change from the leadership and a foreign policy that
to Iran's national interests.
Hopefully the people of Iran
can draw from the experience of the Czechs and really believe
in themselves and that they themselves can bring about the
that they really want. Iranians must no longer put faith
in a military
intervention from the United States or other kinds of assistance
whether covert or overt from various governments. To put
it simply, colonialism is over, England is an island and America
as omnipotent as Iranians like to believe.
It took the Czechs around forty years to rid themselves
of communist rule. So far, the mullahs have been running Iran
for a quarter
century and they pretty much have a firm grip on the nation.
They have powerful and repressive security forces like the
volunteer basiji force, the Revolutionary Guards, Arab mercenaries
of the Information Ministry (yes it's actually called the
Ministry of Information) to maintain order.
had lost the trust of the vast majority of the Iranian populace
and more are becoming disillusioned and fed up with the
religious oligarchy. So in these social, economic and political
it is only a matter of time before this regime will be
overthrown as history has shown with other totalitarian regimes
to rule Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland, Romania and many
Ideally this government should be done away with
in a non-violent manner. And Iranians must learn to be tolerant
views and should not show their disagreements through intimidation
or violent behavior as is seen today and through much of
history. The new government must set up institutions that
will bring about and nurture democracy. A free and independent
a dynamic economy that isn't burdened by an all-powerful
state and most important a secular and democratic government
necessary for an Iran that would be ideal in the eyes of
the Iranian populace.
It isn't so far fetched that these
could happen to Iran and all the Iranian people have
to do is look
the experience of the Czechs and the other nations of
the former Iron Curtain. A day doesn't go by that I do not
earnestly pray for our Velvet Revolution.
goodbye to spam!