Self-immolation not for freedom, bur for a leader
By Babak Mazarei
June 30, 2003
I am a fourth year political science student at Carleton
motivation for writing this article was the relationship I had
brother of one of those who burnt themselves at a recent Mojahedin
In other words, I am not affiliated with any political organization
therefore lack what Iranians all to often refer to as an "agenda".
I wrote a brief piece on the unconditional right
of the Mojahedin to express
themselves. I, however, do not believe that self-immolation is
means of protest. Therefore, it is only logical to write a piece
explains my reasons for holding this view, in light of the Mojahedin's
extensive use of self-immolation and the resulting death of a young
had so much more to live for.
The quasi-terrorism engaged in by
late is a testament to their ideological bankruptcy and the hypocrisy
their pro-human rights stance. I was very much angered and disheartened
I learned of the news of Neda
Hassani's death, if not for the
act of human degradation sheds, then certainly for the loss of
A fact of common knowledge and indeed a basic
axiom of the sciences is the
necessity to adapt in order to survive. Particularly in Iran,
20th century was a time of extreme political turbulence,
and social progress.
Considering the circumstances in modern day
draw the fallacious conclusion that progress is all too
wrong a word to
describe the result of a century of struggle and sacrifice.
matter of such importance begs a more detailed analysis.
Recent protests in Iran have proven the viciousness
of a decadent regime. Students, yes students, those guardians of
human progress and knowledge, the
flagbearers of truth and reason have been the victims of a series
unrelenting attacks by nefarious religious zealots.
Under the pretext
Islamic "mandate from Heaven" ansar-e-Hezbollah, pasdaran,
have committed the worst acts of human treachury without the slightest
fear of being held accountable. In this context, under today's
brutal circumstances, one witnesses the genuine progress that a
political consciousness has endowed on the very fabric of Iranian
Since 1979, the political machinery in Iran has
been monopolized by greedy
individuals who are byproducts of an obsolete ideology that aimed
achieving political power from its inception. Iran's experience
political Islam has produced a general view that is shared by
majority of Iranians today.
This view demands a separation of
religion followed by an immediate practice of secular democracy.
perspective in itself is progressive. However, what further
indicates progress is the actions and more importantly, the inactions
are adopting in their determined pursuit for secular democracy.
After living in a state of bondage for two decades,
it would not have been
surprising if Iranian civilians resorted to terrorism as a means
facilitating political change. So progressive and prudent are
Iran's students and civilians, however, that they have chosen a
path of peaceful change. Granted there have been moments of confrontation
between authorities and protestors. The goal here is not to undermine
brutality of the authorities, but rather to commend the composure
Whereas planned terrorism as a means of retribution
been employed by students, they instead chose to arm themselves
then and now. Slogans calling for secularism, democracy, and
of the ruling establishment. In other parts of the developing
world, terrorism against a repressive regime by a hopeles populace
too often; but the desired outcomes when employing these tactics
illusions, not real progress.
Having established the truth that Iranians living
in Iran are averting from
terrorism and violence altogether, we must address the actions
of the exiled
opposition. By and large, the Iranian left have not resorted
historically, and certainly not presently. The liberal democratic
opposition averts from violence in theory and in practice.
the People's Mojahedin. The record of this organization is marred
of violence both historically, and most recently, the materialization
protest-suicide in the form of self-immolation. In the 1970's the
assassinated US military personnel, supported the nonsensical siege
American embassy, and in 1990 under the operation name
Bahman" in February 2000 attacked Iranian military sites and
buildings. These acts of violence have only detracted from the
of the exiled opposition movement. The very simple, but nonetheless
rule of conduct "two wrongs do not make a right" comes
recently the Mojahedin have resorted to self-immolation. What
about these latest acts of non-sensical violence is the purpose
they are being committed. It is not in pursuit of freedom for
Mojaheds are now immolating themselves, but rather in protest
at the incarceration of select members of their leadership.
proves that People's Mojahedin are not a flexible, open organization,
rather a dogmatic entity with little hope for survival,
let alone a
legitimate political claim in Iran. How sad it is that Iranians
have been supressed by a rotten clergy for twenty four years
and have not
resorted to suicide-protest, but an exiled political group
self-immolation after a brief encounter with unjustified repression.
It is not the desire of the writer to discredit
the historical role of the
Mojahedin. History has witnessed much bloodshed of Mojahedin
forces in the
struggle for freedom. However, the latest actions of the independent
Mojahedin members and the organization's historical inclination
violence do not deserve merit, but constructive criticism.
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