The article published in Guardian on the 30th of July 2009 by a small number of Iranian academics and anti- war activists from the US, Europe and Iran which have borrowed the title of their article from South African’s momentous events that is “Truth and reconciliation” commission. We would like to remind the reader that the “Truth and reconciliation” was formed after ANC victory and Mandela becoming president. (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/jul/31/iran-truth-reconciliation-commission).
We fully support their anti-war and humanitarian credentials and their call for the release of all the political prisoners and call for stoppage to all the killings of innocent people. We also praise and support their efforts in upholding Iran’s national interest and national rights. As Mandela cast his vote in the 1994 elections, which would make him president, Nelson Mandela carried a message of forgiveness and reconciliation and spoke of his dreams of “one nation”. “True reconciliation does not consist in merely forgetting the past.” Nelson Mandela said. Today Iran is a deeply divided nation, to speak about national interest assumes one nation where all individuals have equal rights, a one-man-one-vote nation where ballot box becomes the agreed method of governance. Iran has not been a “one-nation” since the aftermath of the 1979 revolution. Iran has been a divided nation ever since the ruling clergy legitimise absolute rule and monopolized all instruments of power and eliminated and cleansed any deviation from “true Islam” with brute force. Similar to SA Iran has been under apartheid based on religious and ideological beliefs. Therefore to build a nation we must begin to include all the Iranians from all shades of political and ethnic groupings. To prescribe unification and reconciliation of so called oosoolgara (Fundamentalist) , and eslahtalab (reformist) as the “historical solution” to the problem in hand is an indication of not grasping the enormity of the task and misreading the signs on the wall. To suggest in your letter as part of your recommendations “greater freedoms” indicates that there currently exist freedom as we know it in Iran, and secondly we have all the foundations and instruments in place for “greater freedom”. Taliban brand of freedom is not the kind of freedom we are discussing I hope. Contrary to all the IR constitution and normal human protocols, protesters are shot at in the streets and are banned from peaceful demonstrations, hence to preach “ greater freedom” is premature, or put it bluntly is an utter absurdity.
The open letter of the 30th July primarily has four major messages: Blaming foreign forces and Iranian oppositions groups for Iran’s ills; promote and defend Iran’s nuclear programme; support the current Islamic political system and oppose any regime change; and lastly, call for calm, truth and reconciliation and act as an arbitrator between the two factions, i.e. oosoolgara (Fundamentalist) , and eslahtalab (reformist). The article’s convoluted style, disjointed sentence structures and its multipurpose content can only point to conflicting view points of its signatories. In total the article consist of 21 paragraphs of which the first three is devoted to curriculum vitae of the signatories (http://www.campaigniran.org/casmii/) and their background. The next five paragraphs are dedicated to US/UN bashing with this prelude: “The background to the current situation is the longstanding belligerent policies of the US and its allies, encouraged by the neoconservatives and the Israeli lobby, which peaked during eight years of Republican rule in the White House.”. Homa Katouzian (http://www.sant.ox.ac.uk/mec/fellows.html) of Oxford University, wrote last week in an article called “Whither Iran?”: “Let us begin with a brief account of the background to the present situation. In 1979 all shades of opinion combined to bring down the Pahlavi state. But almost at the same time fundamental differences began to emerge among the revolutionary forces such that by 1982 all but the Islamists had been eliminated from politics.” At times the reader notices a process of translation from Persian into English which indicates perhaps part of the work has been originally written in Persian. The next 3 paragraphs get down to the real problems associated with the disputed June 12th election and invites both parties for calm, “Each of these two major wings of the body politic includes millions of people and both play a vital role in Iran’s progress. The rift between these two must heal in an environment of calm, without agitation and mudslinging, for the sake of Iran’s future. This healing must be pursued through the path of constructive dialogue and reconciliation”. There are no political parties in Iran and these so called “wings” are just small factions within the IRI state and they do not have any membership or affiliations and do not represent the people. The proposition of the “truth and reconciliation” commission along the line of SA did only work after Mandela was freed and free elections took place. A coalition government will not work, in particular fundamentalists are not happy with power sharing, in any event we have passed this stage and this is not on the table for discussion as senior reformists are in prison. Only after a free and fair election can there be reconciliation and government of national unity. We ought to remind our learned friends that the word “nationalism” and “national” are mistrusted by the Islamic republic and has been substituted with “Islamic” and “Islam” since they changed the name of the National Assembly to Islamic Assembly after the 79 revolution. We must not defend and preserve a system that is fundamentally ahistorical and despotic i.e. a system of velayat [absolute theocratic power]. There must be an end to religious apartheid in Iran where non clergy are considered second class citizens and Velayet (Absolute rule) must be dismantled for Iran to progress. The despotic system of velayat has not worked, cannot and will not work in the future. This is the main contradiction in the whole of Islamic ideology of governance and is not compatible with democracy in Iran or modernity. The islamic system has been designed by its founders to preserve the power of clergy and its rank and file. The dilemma of election by the people or selection by God has to be resolved before Iran can move forward, this is the most important challenge facing Iran today.
Then the article turns to Western media, “The western media, by their one-sided coverage of the post-election developments, portrayed the street demonstrations protesting the election results as the start of a “velvet” revolution against the Islamic Republic”, and alleges confiscation of 1 billion Iranian assets “The British government, which claims to follow a policy of non-interference in Iran’s internal affairs, did its part by confiscating nearly £1bn of Iranian assets.” as a sign of British involvement in the election dispute. This has never been confirmed by the Bank of England. Most of the multipurpose article discuss old and tired rhetoric about the role of the western media in particular US and sanctions against Iran, forgetting that Western media has been banned for its” one sided view” of the recent events, ignoring to mention the fact that brave young Iranian bloggers, twitters, facebookers, youtubers and emailers have provided much of the evidence for the world community, in particular since the news blackout and restriction on the movement of foreign journalist. There are millions of emails, images, blogs and movies which have been sent and are being sent by amature journalist and ordinary Iranian people. To claim that US/UN and its allies have had a “key role” creating the current unrests is debatable. But how much credit should we attribute to millions of young and old Iranians who have marched in the streets of Iran, or have been murdered in cold blood, or been imprisoned, tortured and raped? What do you say to Neda Agha Soltans families (www.nedayema.org), do we forget and forgive without trial and prosecutions of those responsible? The process of healing can only begin after justice has been served.
In the next two paragraphs, the tone and the content of the article changes dramatically and blames all the troubles as internal with no influence of any external agencies. “In the opinion of millions of Iranians, the current crisis has been caused by restrictions on political freedoms, particularly freedom of the press, economic discontent, and deficiencies in transparency and accountability on the part of government institutions.”. The under current and the main theme throughout the article is the preservation of the status quo with no deep appreciation of the enormity of the complexities and challenges ahead. The naivety of the analysis which constantly direct you to US, UN ,CIA, and UK as the source of all Iranian problems, is more like the front cover of the Big Issue than a serious attempt to shed light on the history and root causes of both pre and post election issues in Iran. It seems that the writers are more conversant with the politics of anti-war which is less taxing than the complexities of Iranian and world politics. Blaming others is a historical fallacy in line with the constant paranoia of foreign interference and interventions in the Iranians political life. See Iraj Pezeshekzad accounts of Dai jon Napoleon (Dear Uncle Napoleon) for a comical account of the conspiracy theory and paranoia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iraj_Pezeshkzad). And finally we reach to the five motions for a “historical” solution on the line of Chamberlin’s efforts to stop Hitler starting the Second World War.
The writers of the open letter whom are mainly middle class Iranians enjoying life under western democracies and who freely support and preach extreme left policies and criticize US as the source of all evils must not forget that if it were not for Harry Truman’s ultimatum in 1946, which was the start of the cold war, Iran Azarbayejan would have been annexed by the USSR. ). Has the IRI regime thanked USA for redeeming Iran from Russian domination after WWII?
As for interference and influences we only point out to Islamic regime’s direct involvement in many terrorist activities across the globe, the interested readers can find for themselves how Islamic Iran has sponsored, kidnapped and brutally eliminated Iranian dissidents across the world. Late Fereydoun Farrokhzad (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fereydoun_Farrokhzad) was a legendary artist, entertainer, poet and a singer who in 1992 was stabbed 40 times and beheaded with a knife at his home in Germany with his dog sobbing beside him.
As Iranians we all support Iran’s national rights, but we are concerned about Iran’s nuclear programme. During Iran-Iraq war in the 80s when Iraq used chemical warfare against Iran, IR leadership initiated a secret programme of nuclear facilities with the help of Russians. It is in the national interest to have an open discussion about nuclear energy for Iran and a cost-benefit analysis and a calculus of rationality . As Iranians we are deeply concerned about the Iran’s nuclear issues and handling of the negotiation by the Iranian authorities, Tehran is playing a dangerous game which might have grave consequences for our shared destiny, the Middle East and the world.
Our duty as academics must be to prevent and stop the war of terror against the people of Iran by their own state right now. The hidden civil war is tearing Iran apart and our responsibility is to stop this war first. In most of their article they are defending the status quo and the Islamic regime and are blaming the West and the Western media for Iran’s past, present and future problems. . If Hitler and Nazi Germany were stopped at Berlin there would have been no gas chambers, no Hiroshima and no destruction of human lives.
In conclusion we, a group of ordinary Iranian students and activists believe firmly that the only way to begin the process of reconciliation and setting of truth commission is a free, fair election and a referendum to let people determine their own destiny.