The relentless pursuit of human rights is the essence of democracy. And, without democracy, human rights cannot, by definition, prevail.
With that premise in mind, the establishment of the clerical regime in Iran has grossly compromised both democracy and human rights. Since its inception, this regime has oppressed the Iranian people, and 2009 was one of the most challenging for millions of my compatriots — a year in which the world witnessed the most flagrant violations of both political and human rights of our citizens.
Yet every time the people attempt to in some way soften the regime, the results yield a swift and unforgiving government response. This is precisely why few would argue today that the thought of reforming this regime — whether it be a domestic attempt or a foreign expectation — has proven to be unrealistic and unattainable. The very nature of clerical leadership, the very essence of its existence is in direct conflict with the principles of democracy and human rights. This regime’s survival depends on denying what the people of Iran demand for themselves. Thus, it is my longstanding belief that so long as this regime remains in power, Iran will not reverse its course.
So what is the alternative to Iran’s clerical regime, and how would a new system uphold the indispensable principles of democracy and human rights? My vision of a future Iran is inseparable from these two interdependent ideals and principles.