This one is their battle
Stand up for youth and forget yourselves
June 20, 2003
Once again Iranian exiles and émigrés
are bickering over political differences as watershed events unravel
in Iran. The past week saw the most serious and extensive protests
against the clerical regime and the Iranians who live in different
parts of the free world have either fallen silent or started to
debate political nuances amongst themselves.
What is important
to remember is that despite possessing differences that cover the
entire ideological palette of politics, from monarchists to Marxists,
Iranians who live outside Iran all agree on one thing: the sanctity
of human rights. This common denominator amongst all Iranian opposition
groups is what needs to be stressed and defended in an international
Whether or not we want Reza Pahlavi or Rajavi or a secular Republic
now is the time that Iranians abroad must unite under one cause:
the protection of the human rights of those protesting in Iran.
It is the duty of those Iranians who live in democracies to try
their best to do what they can to protect the Iranians that have
mustered enough courage to take to the streets in Iran and demand
a regime change.
It is much too early to worry about what kind of government is
to replace this one. The people in Iran, if free of fear or reprisals
and bloodshed, themselves will decide that when the time comes.
What the Iranians abroad can do for Iran is to press the governments
of the nations in which they live to put pressure on the rulers
in Iran to respect human rights. If the threat of strong-armed
reprisal is removed those students who took to the streets yelling
anti-regime slogans are themselves fully capable of deciding what
Iranians, having gone through a revolution and many years of
both secular and clerical dictatorships, know full well the difference
between fascism and democracy. What they so badly need, from the
international community and the United States and those Iranians
abroad who can influence international opinion, is not to be told
what kind of government to choose but for their very lives and
persons to be protected while they go about achieving change.
Iranians living abroad are so busy finding fault with one another's
political stances that they have lost sight of the very elementary
need for not being beaten up when you express your thoughts. There
will be plenty of time to argue politics when this regime falls.
What is important is to first make the battleground safe for expression
of differences. It is easy to sit in your California homes and
email passionate criticism of this or that movement's agenda.
this very right, that Iranians abroad possess, to differ with one
another, is exactly what is needed in Iran. The right to speak
ones mind without fear of being imprisoned or beaten up is the
most basic first step to achieving democracy. This is a right with
which all, regardless of political agenda or
ideology, even those presently holding power, agree (at least in
theory).. The implementation of this basic
human right, then, should be the single unifying demand of all
Iranians inside and outside the borders of Iran.
I asked friends who live in France and have French nationality
why they did nothing to protest the comment made by their foreign
minister that Iran was a democratic
nation. They looked stunned as if they, in fact, as French who cared for their
motherland, had a duty to voice their anger about France's repeated appeasement
of the theocratic regime.
I listened to some exile radio stationn interview Iranians in
Los Angeles who had gathered in support of the students and there was more
criticism of the different political leanings than any outrage
over the abuse of the human
rights of Iranian students.
Iranians abroad should ask themselves now that our youth has brought hope back
to the streets of Iran what is it that we can do for them? Can we tell these
young people what future to choose from the comfort of safe havens abroad?
Or must we instead use our collective influence abroad to help this movement?
we help the youth in Iran by arguing about politics amongst ourselves or
should we find a common denominator that unites us enough so that
we can be of use?
Is that common denominator not our abhorrence of human rights abuses?
should we, then, not unite and demand our respective host nations and the
international community as a whole to put pressure on the regime
to avoid imprisonment and
bloodshed? Is that not the best that Iranians abroad can do for the youth
within our borders?
Iranians living in the free world should
help provide the
youth movement with an arena in which it can fight its own political battles.
high time we stood up for the youth and forgot ourselves. This one is their
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