Under the umbrella

Twenty eight years after take over of the country by a group of Islamic clerics and their followers through a revolution which spilled more blood of Iranians during the months and years after their take over than any time before it, opposition forces to this “Islamic revolutionary regime” have not yet offered a serious challenge to the system which has failed in every way to accomplish anything positive for the people of Iran.

During all these years we have seen waves of killings of Iranian people by the Islamic Republic at different times under different excuses in order to terrorize people and kill their spirit of resistance. Many known and unknown elements of opposing groups and individual activists departed from the country during the same period with the hope to be able to do something for progress of democracy in Iran in an atmosphere away from suppression inside the country.

Many of the known figures from well recognized Iranian political groups and individuals who have been residing outside the country for many years and while keeping their opposing views and stance against Islamic regime, they have not been able to perform as they expected their departure from the country would allow them to do.

Part of this issue can be blamed on the style of living in western countries which consumes most of the time of any individual to support their own life and paying for the bills in order to avoid putting themselves under debt of any source. This greatly decreases the freedom and ability of any individual to dedicate him/herself to completely productive and consistent political activities.

From the other side, Islamic Republic regime which has abandoned Iranian people inside the country in favor of its nuclear programs and Palestinian agenda and other issues unrelated to Iranians, has invested huge amounts of money to buy support from, or maybe it is best to say hire, some Iranians outside the country in order to boost their PR activities not only in direction of preserving the status quo in Iran, but also in disabling and discrediting existing opposition activities against the Islamic regime.

This investment has partly gone towards so-called “cultural” and “religious” activities and institutions that have been established with direct funds from Islamic regime outside the country. Many of the elements linked with these institution who are mostly from educated Iranians, have also directed their attention to influence politics of the countries of their residence by taking advantage of democratic process in those nations and getting into their political parties and institutions.

Activities of different lobbying groups that Islamic republic has managed to form from different individuals and interested corporations for attempting to shift the policies of different western nations in their favor at any cost, have posed a serious threat against true national interests of the Iranian people.

Considering all of these, while the lack of resources for the opposition to support their full time activities against Islamic regime is understandable to certain extent, we must also understand that these crucial times call for extra ordinary sacrifices and extra ordinary decisions. Responsibility of Iranian opposition at this time is not just to point out the shortcomings of Islamic Republic regime and questioning their credibility as well as the policies on national and international issues.

The biggest and most important responsibility of the opposition is to offer an alternative practical and achievable solution and taking charge of a substantial movement against Islamic Republic with a united voice, in order to pave way for establishment of a democratic system. Some people claim that this is the same as the slogan, which was used by Khomeini in Islamic revolution.

Khomeini however, later showed that he did not respect any of his words and promises and discarded every one of his previous allies in the united front against Shah. While this is true, it does not mean the idea itself has no credibility. Many other elements have been present during Khomeini’s era from which, incompetence of other opposition groups in holding their own political position in those days, was one of the most important factors that contributed to their own demise.

The most important difference of the current movement against Islamic regime is that almost all opposition groups/individuals are after a non-ideological democratic system in which everyone in society will have the rights that are recognized by the international charter for human rights while in those days, no one really knew what Khomeini was after. Khomeini gave all kinds of false promises and made all kinds of conflicting and confusing statements that could be interpreted in no other ways but lies.

Iranian opposition and on top of all, Jebhe Melli Iran, missed a very vital opportunity by abandoning late Dr. Bakhtiar and ignoring Dr. Broumandís report about his meeting with Khomeini in Paris* in which he had clearly spoken about anti-nationalism stance of Khomeini for late Mr. Frouhar and late Dr. Sanjabi but those days are behind us now and there is no time for mourning about our mistakes.

Itís time to make big decisions and Iranian opposition groups should realize that they shall be held accountable for their actions today, in Iran of tomorrow if they fail again to come up with proper decision in these important days. Failure in formation of a united and credible front and taking practical steps in guiding Iranian people through their struggle against Islamic regime will have catastrophic impact over the future of our nation. This responsibility is on the shoulder of all individuals and groups who consider themselves of some importance and relevance in this struggle or others look up to them for a solution.

Other than lack of resources, the resentment towards the idea of a united voice which was abused by Khomeini almost 29 years ago in rallying opposition forces against the previous regime, seems to be another reason for withholding Iranians to unite against the evil of Islamic Republic for the suspicion they have about this process.

Almost 29 years after the establishment of Islamic regime, the relationship between different democratic forces continue to suffer from a lack of trust. This is the irony of the current situation that the system which abused the trust of all its allies and every Iranian in general, took advantage of the idea of unity under one slogan.

Our responsibility is not to allow this bitter memory to paralyze us from performing our historic duties, but to convene under the umbrella of a ìunited voiceî in order to guide the struggle of Iranian people in these crucial times. Human rights, territorial integrity of Iran, separation of religion and state a referendum on the format of democratic system can be pillars for unity while everyone can hold on to their own agendas, for activity in a democratic society after removal of Islamic regime.

Unorganized and scattered resistance of Iranian people inside the country against Islamic regime is costing the lives of many innocent Iranians. Many Iranian people from inside have been calling for a unified leadership to organize and motivate a consistent and powerful resistance for many years. Itís time to make those big and important decisions.

Anyone who considers a role for him/herself or any political group should put their words into action and do something for the nation whom they claim to be caring for. We must test our credibility with the people of Iran. If we believe that we can represent Iranian peopleís interest, then itís time to step forward and present ourselves to the people openly before others try to create representatives for us and for our people that can cause more problems for us in future.

Sohrab Ferdows

* Please refer to Abdolrahman Broumand’s interview in Harvard Oral History project.

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