The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran has just released an opinion poll report of 35 of the most highly informed and well respected members of Iran’s civil society regarding an attack on Iran by the US and allies. Bottom line, there is unanimous agreement by these democracy advocates inside Iran that such an attack would devastate the fledgling Iranian civil society and greatly exacerbate the already abysmal human rights conditions in the country.
The polling interviews were conducted between January and June of 2011 and included well known Iranian human rights activists, and household names in writing, journalism poetry, filmmaking and other cultural leadership positions, in addition to lawyers, political opposition leaders and others with intellectual, artistic and political influence over the thinking of Iranians living inside Iran. The age range of the interviewees was 25-84.
Here are some highlights:
Tahmineh Milani, filmmaker:
“We must not forget that Iranians are nationalistic and will not give even one molecule of their soil to foreigners…I believe there is a probability that the Iranian government would use war to establish its own political power…The government can use the war as an excuse and delay people’s demands.”
Simin Behbehani, poet:
“Conditions for writers do not improve after a war. What a bad person would I need to be to wish a war, so that my [banned] books could be published. Even if I am buried under a ton of dirt and not even one line of my writings remain I would never agree to a war…”
Mohamad Ali Dadkhah, human rights lawyer:
“…Iranian society’s attitude towards anyone who would advocate war under the guise of human rights and democracy would be terribly negative.”
Mahmoud Dowlatabadi, author:
“…in the case of a potential war between Iran and the US, I believe the relations between the two countries will be ruined forever.”
Mohammad Ali Sepanlou, poet:
“…[even] assuming that the country’s rule changes, it will be followed by civil war…”
Payam D. prominent journalist (name withheld for safety reasons):
“…among Iran’s ruling strata, there is a group that is deeply and wholeheartedly open to the idea of military action against Iran. It is evident that welcoming military action does not stem from their wish for improvement in civil society or human rights…Rather, military action against Iran from their perspective provides the excuse of an external threat…using these excuses the government will prepare the grounds for the oppression of political opposition, human rights defenders, and civil society activists.”
Kambozia Partovi, filmmaker:
“I have thought a lot about your question of “What would I do if a war breaks out?”and I think it’s clear that I will defend, because I care about my country and my people.”
Finally, to press an important message for we in the diaspora, here’s author Natasha Amiri:
“I believe that we who live inside of Iran have a more accurate view of Iranian society…As a writer who hears outsiders’ criticism, I feel that their analysis is far from reality because they have no contact with the Iranian people.”
I may add that those in the diaspora that do have contact, have a smaller stake in the matter because they (and their children) live their lives under the laws and conditions of their host countries, always having the option of parachuting out.
For my part, I choose to listen to and follow our most informed intellects inside Iran. Listening to outside of Iran voices that even remotely, conditionally, indirectly, sadly with a sigh, angrily with a flag, passionately with calls for liberty, favor war with my country is like letting the casino blackjack dealer tell me whether to “hit” or “stand.” I may be stupid, but not that stupid.
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