Recently we heard the wise words of the son of the late Mohammad Reza Shah promoting a non-violent movement towards democracy. Such rhetoric makes sense to those who have been the victims of the Islamic regime’s fanaticism and violence, and who have lost every bit of faith in the Khatami government which promised more than it delivered.
However, let us not go backwards. The revolution in which thousands made sacrifices to end the monarchy was hijacked by the clergy. But Iranians, even those with a bit of nostalgia for the past, do not wish to turn the wheels back. Rather they wish to move forward in establishing a government by the people for the people.
Reza Pahlavi in various interviews, and recently in a book published in Persian, talks of the desires of the Iranian people. However, he does not state the reasons why we are all facing the present disaster. He considers mistakes and corruption within the Shah’s government as minimal.
If today the Islamic regime has created a society of fear, those in power prior to 1979 planted the seeds long before. If today we are facing a theocracy of the worst kind, yesterday we had a dictatorship run by a monarch.
We were given a monarchist calendar year by force. We were given the Rastakhiz Party by force. The Shah’s own ministers were forced to kiss his highness’s hands and feet. Freedom of speech and assembly were non-existent. Books had to go through government censorship before being published.
The Savak secret police and Evin prison were created and the torture of prisoners was common and opponents were executed. Close ties with Western governments were to the benefit of foreign corporations and not the Iranian people.
Celebrations marking 2,500 years of monarchy were staged at Persepolis with millions of dollars of the people’s money. A few deposed monarchs came and ate tons of caviar at those ludicrously lavish parties while many Iranians were hungry and most villages lacked water, electricity, and sanitation.
And the Pahlavi government’s literacy campaign created 75% illiteracy!
The Shah did not make just a few mistakes here and there, as Reza Pahlavi claims. The royal family and their close associates plundered the wealth of the country. Changes in Iranian society during the reign of the Pahlavi dynasty was cosmetic and unsubstantial.
Now if Reza Pahlavi is sincere in his hopes for Iran and the majority of Iranians, he must first come to terms with the past before we can believe him. He must practice what he preaches.
Unfortunately, most monarchists do not acknowledge past mistakes. And they are quick to blame nationalists and leftists for the emergence of the Islamic regime.
As a gesture of good will, Reza Pahlavi should spend the bulk of the money his family took from the people of Iran for the benefit of the impoverished masses of expatriate refugees and those who are selling their bodies and souls in order to escape from the evil of the Islamic regime.
If Reza Pahlavi is sincere, he should abandon the idea of being the “lawful heir to the throne”. He should abandon the idea of monarchy — even a constitutional monarchy that was never practiced by his father or grandfather.
The throne was overthrown! Reza Pahlavi must accept the reality of 1979 revolution, even though a dictatorship was replaced with a more repressive form of government.
Reza Pahlavi should be an ordinary citizen just like all of us and work side by side his fellow country men and women to establish a lawful and democratic government that respects the votes and representatives of the people, not one that bends under a monarch or a molla.