Following the publication of Mohandes Abbas Amirentezam’s letter to the UN Secretary-General, there were many reactions to his letter. In the following essay, Mohandes Amirentezam provides his responses to these criticisms and critiques.
I would like to invite our readers to add their names to the petition bellow if they so desire:
For the Persian text, please click:
Human Rights, Both Strategy and Tactic The publication of my letter of July 12, 2008 to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, has once again brought up the long-standing discussion of “What is to be Done.” It is of great pleasure that this letter has received the attention of my compatriots and has helped promote constructive dialog among Iranians. I express my utmost gratitude to our friends for their criticisms, critiques, suggestions, and corrections. Some friends presented the criticism that the Secretary-General of the UN lacks the power to convince, coax, or compel the Iranian government to accept respecting human rights. Other friends have criticized that the Secretary-General does not have the time to read the letter. Still others have expressed the criticism that writing to the Secretary-General was not an appropriate tactic.
I respect the position of those who argued that the Secretary-General lacks the power to implement human rights around the world. I believe that in a non-violent civil movement the main burden is on the shoulders of the people of the country. However, it is necessary to utilize all existing potentialities both for tactical purposes as well as for assisting pre-conditions of the movement and hastening this movement. Although structurally, the Secretary-General does not have great amounts of power to implement international conventions, nevertheless he is present in the meetings of the General Assembly and the Security Council as well as can gain the attention of the Security Council on matters related to international peace and security. The Secretary-General has access to the leaders of various countries and their representatives at the UN and can work towards international peace and security. The Secretary-General could benefit from any innovative suggestion in these matters. The Secretary-General makes many official and unofficial trips to various countries and acts as arbiter in many disputes. For example, the establishment of Friends of Burma and putting pressure on the military junta there constitute positive and constructive actions of the Secretary-General of the UN.
The primary objective of my plea to the Secretary-General, was the utilization of an international potentiality to show the significance of respecting the standards and norms of human rights standards in Iran. As mentioned in the letter, with utilizing the Secretary-General, I was also addressing the international public opinion, aware consciences, civil society institutions, and the leaders around the globe. Moreover, under the pretext of this letter, I hoped to activate my compatriots around the world and move our friends. For this purpose, I utilized the Secretary-General to connect my compatriots’ capabilities and creative actions.
The success of this effort is dependent on the cooperation and work of my compatriots. If our dear compatriots under a civil movement in their capabilities and creative actions in addition to sending thousands of letters, e-mails, and faxes to the Secretary-General, would also organize groups in support of human rights and active protest against their violations, certainly we could get heart-warming results.
Friends, I do not believe in miracles in this process. With all my being, I believe that the price for creating change and establishing popular sovereignty, democracy, and peace in our country, has to be borne by the Iranian people. When any Iranian avoids taking responsibility and does not contribute to this struggle, he or she is slowing the process of reaching democracy and makes the work of others harder. No nation has been able to overcome their problems and obstacles without shouldering the necessary hardships and costs. We should complement each other and encourage each other in these civil society movements. We should strengthen civil society institutions and struggle to reduce the costs of opposition activities in Iran and be willing to contribute our shares.
One of the criticisms that was correctly expressed was that I did not coordinate with other political movements inside Iran. While I accept this criticism and will try to remedy it, it bears mentioning that in my previous experiences, especially in regards to the invitations for the establishment of the Iranian National Congress, we held numerous meetings and I personally sought out many prominent opposition personalities, experiences which indicate that there are many obstacles on the path of group work in Iran and it does not correspond with the desires of many individuals. However, to the extent possible, I held discussions. Also considering that there is a consensus on supporting human rights, my impression was that there would be no serious objections to this effort. I have always supported communiques issued by others although they had not sought my opinion prior to issuing them. I have always supported all the creative methods that genuinely defended human rights. Having said this and without any excuses, we have to admit that group work has not become part of our political culture and we have long way to go to acquire it.
Another criticism was on my position on preventing war and sanctions. On the war, it is very clear. The costs of war, even a limited war, are so heavy and destructive, that ought to be condemned under any circumstances. I am ready to remain a prisoner under this system and not witness the destruction of Iran and the annihilation of my compatriots in a war. Under whatever conditions war occurs, it would have a negative impact on the process of establishing democracy and popular sovereignty, and would drag us back many years. Those who wishfully think that a war would weaken the ruling political power, and could create appropriate conditions for the establishment of popular sovereignty are irresponsible individuals. They are indifferent towards the right to life of the Iranian people and unfortunately want Iran only for their own ambitious dreams. The Iranian people have touched the tragedy of war with their skins and flesh, and one should never put them on the path of paying such a high cost again. Once for all we have to shout no more war and no more warmongering.
A look at the experience of the prolonged and comprehensive sanctions on Iraq shows that the innocent people including children and senior citizens are among the first victims of sanctions. And government leaders are the last to be affected by sanctions. The leaders of the Baathi regime in Iraq until the very last days before the toppling of the regime were busy accumulating wealth and were enjoying opulent lives. The heavy sanctions of the UN, seriously harmed the infrastructures of Iraqi economy and caused hardships for the people and caused physical and mental harm to the people. But the sanctions did not cause any serious change on the way the government violently treated the people, and human rights continued to be violated in the most terrible manners. That violence still takes victims from the Iraqi people. I am of the belief that the implementation of any sanctions on the economy and the daily lives of the people, will impact their employment and their prosperity and is a violation of human rights.
War and sanctions, will link the future of the country to international events, and will limit the role of the people in determining their destiny.
War and sanctions, are instruments in response to the security worries of the international community against the current government, which with the resolution of the problem of the nuclear dossier and strengthening of economic relations between 5+1 countries with Iran, the real problems of the Iranian people which are the gross violations of human rights and the establishment of popular sovereignty and democracy, will either be forgotten or will become insignificant.
Therefore, the Iranian people in their struggle to gain democracy and popular sovereignty have to have their own policies independent of the politics of the powerful government that are in conflict with the Islamic Republic of Iran.
The future of the Iranian people could be created with persistence and spread of non-violent civil struggles. The Iranian people should put pressure on the Islamic Republic of Iran in a gradual manner, and ought to utilize the capacities of the global community including the United Nations for the benefit of the Iranian people. In the process of social struggles, the balance of power will eventually change for the benefit of the Iranian people, and in this process the national objective for the achievement of popular sovereignty will become a reality.
Therefore, placing human rights in Iran as the primary issue is both tactic and strategy.
Those who are in close contact with the problems of the Iranian people are aware of the issue and no one is so naive and simplistic to think that the Secretary-General could solve this problem in the absence of the persistent struggles of the Iranian people. To utilize capabilities, even small ones, is a very logical one for the Iranian society in its popular, continuous and serious struggles. If the Iranian people, based on their national capacities and their historical experiences, force the regime to accept international human rights standards, they have achieved a great achievement. Utilizing the capabilities of the international community, including international public opinion, is a wise and thoughtful move. But the degree of this success is completely dependent upon the degree of the struggles of the Iranian people. The international capabilities and public opinion, could only provide more opportunities for the people. However, in comparison with the determination and energy of the people, the international factor does not constitute the determining factor. Reflecting the perspectives and communications of the people to the Secretary-General, international institutions, and non-governmental organizations, would help the popular movement. It is natural that in pushing forward national objectives utilizing parties, civil society institutions, and well-organized groups could succeed better.
The attacks by agents and thugs of the Islamic regime on any citizen should be regarded as violations of the rights of all citizens, and should cause the protest by all political movement and all those who struggle for freedom. The victims of human rights, regardless of their political, social, ideological and gender, ought to be defended by all Iranians.
Some friends have criticized my lack of organizational affiliation to political organizations in Iran, and have implicitly regarded this to be in concert with the monarchist movements. And they have not hidden their disappointment in this matter. The fact of the matter is that “half-baked” and “self-centered” democracy is worse than any dictatorship. The logic of democracy is based on collective wisdom and respect for the rights and perspectives of those in the minority. Based on personal choice, I regard secular republic form of government to be the most appropriate form for Iran and support it. However, following the logic of democracy, I do not relegate to myself the right to ignore the choice of the people and call my own choice the choice of the people. And in the name of defending my own personal choice, ignore the right of the people to determine their own destiny.
One of the main pillars of democracy is political pluralism. Due to its political, cultural and historical situation, Iran, more than any other country in the region, is in need of strengthening peaceful coexistence among various political and cultural preferences. Using constructive activities, it is our duty to the Iranian people to assist them in implementing their self-determination, and to raise their political knowledge as well as to respect the vote of the people.
In my proposal for referendum, I declared that if the Iranian people within the framework of free, fair, and democratic elections, chose the system of clerical rule, I will accept the vote of the people, and continue my civil struggles for the establishment of a democratic republic. Based on the same logic, I believe that the supporters of constitutional monarchy have the same rights as those of all others including to be present in Iran’s political scene as long as they, in theory and in actual practice, accept principles and basics of democracy, the right of the people to determine their own destiny, progress, justice, and territorial integrity of Iran. Abridgment of the political activities of citizens is an emergency matter that can only be justified within the framework of the rule of law created democratically and to the extent that it would express a national consensus, and even this abridgment could only be justified temporarily.
As a regular citizen, and in the name of defending democracy and human rights, I will defend, with all my being, all the citizens of Iran regardless of their religious, cultural, and political preferences; and will be willing to pay any cost to defend the rights of those with whom I politically disagree. In order to institutionalize the democratic rules of the game, I do not regard paying any price as too heavy. Even if any Iranian citizen would support constitutional monarchy, monarchy, socialist republic or any other form of political system, on the condition that it would not be in contradiction to the basics and standards of human rights, I will defend their civil and political rights with all my life and fortune.
Prolonged dictatorship has caused serious harm to our social and political culture. To get rid of these harmful effects on our culture, and take steps towards democracy and human rights, we have a long, hard path ahead of us with many ups and downs. No one can consider oneself as the center and criterion of right. Without any further ado, we have to begin the practice of democracy.
We need to be patient and not wish for instantaneous, magical, and immediate changes. And to accept the rights of the people in making decisions and judging.
We should not, under terrible economic and political conditions and the rule of the present regime, consider the implementation of foreign pressures on the Islamic regime as a quick solution.
National problems demand our national solutions. We should strengthen our self confidence and depend on ourselves. And based on defense of human rights, take steps towards unity.
And it is the people, who based on basics of democracy, and in fair procedures, and within the standards of human rights, have the right to render their judgments on all the parties, groups, and the various political activists for their actions and their behaviors.
In my opinion, the dominant discourse at the present juncture ought to concentrate on the right to determine one’s destiny, democracy, and democracy’s necessities and ramifications.
In my opinion, all political movements, regardless of what form and legal-political superstructure they defend for the future government, should articulate their perspectives and preferences in terms of content and specifics of democracy, right to determine their destiny, justice and development, civil liberties, political, economic, social and cultural programs. To discuss their views of freedom, independence, rule of law, security, model for development of the rights of minorities. Democracy is an historical experience which forms in the process of social struggles and based on respect for cooperation among individuals and institutions.
Problems of our society include the losing hope and becoming passive. Lack of action has give rise to various political movements becoming isolated; and this has given rise to making unwarranted and false accusations and spreading rumors. And in order to explain one’s own lack of action, many instead undermine the actions and initiatives of others. Ideas and initiatives become constructive when individuals and movements are willing to pay their share in the civil and political activities. Distance from the actual scene of struggle, strengthens illusions and furthers divides those who are struggling. When I compare capacities, capabilities, and opportunities with achievements, I feel very worried about the destiny of the future generation.
In order to overcome this worry, we have to overcome short-sightedness, illusions, and divisiveness, and utilize all our capacities for the defense of human rights and prevent their violations, and persistently struggle in one national movement.
I do not believe in the internal transformation of the system [from dictatorship to democracy]. But choosing correct tactics with low costs needs expertness and needs to be chosen and implemented without sloganeering and illusions. If all the political movements and personalities could reach an agreement and unity of action around implementation of human rights, then the next steps in the non-violent and civil struggles for the establishment of popular sovereignty and democracy could be taken.
It is our national duty to defend Iran and Iranians.With hope for the liberation of Iran
Abbas AmirentezamTehranOctober 8, 2008
 Having said this, I support the implementation of those sanctions that target the officials of the regime and its entirety, and do not endanger this and the future generation. However, I not am certain that such sanctions could be constructed on technical grounds.
|Recently by Masoud Kazemzadeh||Comments||Date|
|Great News for the PMOI, and Terrible News for the Terrorist Regime|
|Sep 22, 2012|
|On the Lawsuit “Trita Parsi and NIAC v. Hassan Daieoleslam.”|
|Sep 15, 2012|
|For Ali P: Khomeini, the Shah, and Sanjabi|
|Aug 09, 2012|
|نسرین ستوده: زندانی روز||Dec 04|
|Saeed Malekpour: Prisoner of the day||Lawyer says death sentence suspended||Dec 03|
|Majid Tavakoli: Prisoner of the day||Iterview with mother||Dec 02|
|احسان نراقی: جامعه شناس و نویسنده ۱۳۰۵-۱۳۹۱||Dec 02|
|Nasrin Sotoudeh: Prisoner of the day||46 days on hunger strike||Dec 01|
|Nasrin Sotoudeh: Graffiti||In Barcelona||Nov 30|
|گوهر عشقی: مادر ستار بهشتی||Nov 30|
|Abdollah Momeni: Prisoner of the day||Activist denied leave and family visits for 1.5 years||Nov 30|
|محمد کلالی: یکی از حمله کنندگان به سفارت ایران در برلین||Nov 29|
|Habibollah Golparipour: Prisoner of the day||Kurdish Activist on Death Row||Nov 28|