Let me first say that I have no particular animosity nor resentment for neither Amir Abbas Fakhravar or Ahmad Batebi both of whom have displayed a physical and moral courage in the face of the Islamic Republic’s henchmen while in it’s dungeons. I can only have empathy and admiration for both men’s courage and particularly for Ahmad Batebi who became one of the emblematic living symbols of the 1999 Student Uprising where his image holding a blood stained T Shirt made headlines around the world and led to his arrestation and subsequent torture.
That said, as an Intellectual and concerned Iranian trying to remain objective as to my assessments regarding the challenges faced by the Iranian democrats and one who hopes to see the emergence of a united front against the Islamic Republic I feel it is also our duty to look at our own shortcomings, past mistakes as well as re-assess our political strategy on the long term.
It is no secret that the Iranian Opposition in exile does not represent a united front and that there is a vaccum of an efficient leadership to date. But do the young Post Revolution role models qualify in that role ?
Beyond the “empathy” one can share for some of the young charistmatic figureheads that have emerged in the past years ( Batebi and Fakhravar represent only the tip of the iceberg ) and who will certainly emerge in the months and years to come both inside and outside Iran particularly at this crucial juncture in the history of our nation, one can legitmately ask if this post revolution generation will have the necessary vision and political backbone to fill in the vacuum of leadership and why not take on political responsabilities in a future provisional government to be, if ever the dowfall or implosion of the Islamic Republic becomes a reality ( however far fetched and difficult this may be today).
Nation Building on the rubbles left by the Islamic Republic’s incompetance and disastrous domestic and international policies will demand more than merely handsome features and playboy looks simply to contrast with the obsolete and disgraceful looks of today’s Mullacracy …
It will require not only charisma, a personal commitment and faith in one’s mission or political destiny, but more importantly it will require organizational and leadership qualities which only time and experience on the ground will prove valid or not and lastly it will require a long term vision on what needs to be done to maintain civil peace and stability in a new founded democratic society.
From this point of view, personally ( and I speak for myself here and no one else ) I have hardly been impressed by any of the young generation political or human rights activists to date. If individuals such as Akbar Atri, one of the leaders of the Student movement of 1999 seem to display some maturity and political clarity, he seems to be the only one. In striking contrast it is the Diaspora’s academic intellegenstia that seems to be much more aware or “claire voyant” when it comes to deciphering the major problems and challenges faced by the Iranian society in it’s struggle for democracy. Irrelevant of their own political loyaties, differences of opinion or convictions (whether Republican or Constitutionalist), it seems to me that there is a pool of mature and experienced “Thinkers” in the diaspora today who can play if not a political role at least offer long term political visions and insights to the Opposition “Think Tanks”. To name a few: academics such as Abbas Milani, Azar Nafisi, or former dissidents such as Ramin Jahanbegloo or even amongst some older peers one could think of Shaheen Fatemi ( See HISTORY FORUM: Shahin Fatemi on Iran’s 100 Year Struggle for Democracy ) or Dariush Homayoun head of the CPI (The Constitutional Party of Iran).
Although a Constitutional Monarchist myself ( although not a member of the CPI or anyother party) I believe that we represent just a fraction of the large Democratic Coalition that needs to come to shape if we wish to play a part in a future provisional government that needs to take shape upon the fall of the IRI and THAT DEMANDS PREPARATION.
There have been some interesting initiatives which have been taking place in recent months and probably behind the scenes contacts and conversations between different political groups have taken place to achieve such a united front:
Yet I feel that there is much more to be done as well as a far more aggressive public relations campaign should be undertook in order to present a far larger united front of the exiled democratic opposition ( excluding the MKO ) that would be representive of it’s aspirations.
Within such a large Coalition, the individual differences but also competences could then be expressed in a more constructive way than merely through the deformed spectrum of personal EGO’s and Jealousies ( justified or Not) as seems to be the case of the two Young, Dynamic and Handsom yet terribly inexperienced Amir Abbas Fakhravar and Ahmad Batebi …
From this point of view If these young men hope or ambition the undertaking of a political career in the future they will have to display far more subtleness and especially IDEAS than capitalize on their past “Heroism’s” and Personal “EGO’s”.
Maybe a Fresh Reminder of the wise words of one of the exiled Opposition’s Quintessential Heros would benefit the two:
Shahpour Bakhtiar on the Constitutional Movement and Regime Change( 1989):
My Humble But FIRM Opinion too,
Amir Abbas Fakhravar’s Intro to Crown Prince Reza Pahlavi Reading of Fakhravar’s and Ahmad Batebi’s Open letter from Prison, February 2003:
Ahmad Batebi on Torture interviewed on CNN’s 60 Minutes:
About the letter: Writer Amir Abbas Fakhravar, aged 26, was sentenced to eight years in prison around the 10 November 2002 . He was convicted of defamation for criticising the supreme leadership of Iran in his book Inja Chah Nist (This Place is Not a Ditch) . His situation became more critical when, on 4 February 2003, he and fellow prisoner, student Ahmed Batebi, co-wrote an open letter to the Iranian authorities criticising the government and demanding a referendum on the future government of Iran. The letter specifically accused the Iranian President Ayatollah Khatami of disregarding the reformist agenda to which he had claimed his commitment since coming to power.