portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article

human & civil rights

A Cry For Help From Tehran

Farideh Tehrani is a 27-year-old woman and a doctoral candidate in Tehran,Iran.
Everyday, my peers and I sit and talk. We want only one thing: Freedom. Basic human rights. The same thing those who fled Iran 20 years ago now enjoy in the suburbs of Los Angeles and Washington. Sometimes I check the Internet for news. At other times, my friends and I watch satellite television or listen to the short-wave radio broadcasts of the freed world.

We are constantly amazed, though, at how different our reality is from what some American journalists, academics, and opinion-makers portray it as. So often, we hear self-described Iran experts on CNN and reporters in America's leading newspapers explain away the dictatorship under which we suffer. We hear them talk about how young people and women still support President Khatami! No. We do not! Yes, Khatami did win elections, but those came absent any real competition. In 1997, he won the election only after his colleagues on the Guardian Council disqualified 234 other candidates. Is that a democracy? Listen to us: We no more want to be part of an Islamic Republic than did the Hungarians, Czechs, or Poles want to be part of a Communist dictatorship.

Understand we want freedom. I am still at the university, but many of my peers are in prison for nothing more than demanding freedom of speech, or waving a bloody shirt. We aspire to establish a democracy based on a modern, liberal, and, yes, the Western model of secularism.

Our reasons are quite simple and obvious: We do not follow the Arab or the Islamic model. Iranians, as a people, do not have problems with Western civilization. We are Muslims, but our sense of Iranian national identity dwarfs any religious identity we hold. We are proud heirs of a once-great civilization that brought forth the concept of tolerance and civility predating Islam. Iranians are comfortable with the simple fact that the West has the best-refined modern concepts of democracy, human rights, and individual opportunity.

To us, the Islamic revolution has failed. The system, in its entirely, is the problem; no Band-Aid reform will fix it. Iran's 23-year-old theocracy is as incapable of granting freedom and human rights as was the Soviet Union. No politician associated with the Islamic Republic is acceptable to us. There are no reformers in the clerical government. Our real reformers are among the 600,000 languishing in prison, or the hundreds of candidates who are disqualified in each election for believing in human rights or secularism. Do not sell out our freedom because of Khatami's meaningless double talk and irrelevant rhetoric. He is simply a smiling face of an ugly regime.

Secretary Colin Powell, Senators Arlen Specter and Chuck Hagel, please understand that Iranians are no less deserving of freedom and equality than are residents of Pennsylvania or Nebraska. You cannot fall for the so-called reformers who by design attempt to sway world opinion with promises, yet fail to deliver a single reform at home. Please understand that Iranians themselves have come to the conclusion that the only solution to our present dilemma is a Western-style democracy, complete with freedom of the press, secularism, equality between sexes, and respect for other religious and political beliefs.

Do not listen to the growing number of organizations like the American-Iranian Council [AIC]. The AIC and its sister groups are nothing more than circuitously funded lobby groups pushing the interest of the Islamic Republic. In America we hear money to campaigns go a long way. Shame, we say, if a few campaign dollars are able to divert the focus away from the issue of freedom and human rights for an entire people.

My peers in Tehran do not understand how the American media and certain policymakers repeatedly fall for the baseless half truths offered by such lobby groups. The streets of Tehran view Americans as good people, yet breathtakingly naive when it comes to their inability to see through the propaganda of the politicians and theocracy that oppress us.

Rather than attend their events or dine with their spokesmen, ask why AIC president, Mr. Hooshang Amirahmadi, has access to unlimited funds to hold lavish galas and conferences that only push policies surprisingly parallel to those of all-powerful Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. We want you to know that the AIC and its president in no way, shape, or form represent the Iranian people, especially the hundreds of thousands languishing in jail, nor the hungry, starved or the disenfranchised. The vast majorities of Iranians despise such groups and their leaders and view them as conscience-less business brokers for the unelected few whose days are numbered.

We also ask you: Please tune out the biased and shallow works of journalists who use their pens to editorialize rather than report news. The Los Angeles Times's Robin Wright often calls Khatami "the leading reformer in Iran." How is it that she has such open access to Iran, while her colleagues who report real and hard news are refused visas? Ms. Wright, why is it you have yet to write a single sentence critical of the abhorrent atrocities of the clerical regime? Where are you during our public executions, or the stoning of women that have doubled under Mr. Khatami? Where are your reports on the students languishing in prison, the girls detained, raped, and abused by the Islamic Republic's judges? You call Khatami a democrat yet you neglect his rejection and belittling of the very concept in the pages of Keyhan? Perhaps your Iran expertise does not include speaking Farsi? You quote his liberal speeches in Europe, yet are deafeningly silent about his televised speeches in Iran, declaring: "Those who abide by the Quran must mobilize to kill." To us as Iranians, that is unfathomable. Don't you realize that when we read your work, we ask what good is free press if it does not report the truth?

At this moment in our history, Iranians have limited means to voice our calls to the world beyond the rapidly crumbling walls of the clerical regime. We have a sense of urgency. Yet we feel left behind by the very champions of civil rights, human rights, and liberal reform who once dominated headlines. Don't abandon us now, not at this junction in our history.
Is this report authentic? 16.Oct.2002 03:02

skeptic

"Secretary Colin Powell, Senators Arlen Specter and Chuck Hagel, please understand that Iranians are no less deserving of freedom and equality than are residents of Pennsylvania or Nebraska. You cannot fall for the so-called reformers who by design attempt to sway world opinion with promises, yet fail to deliver a single reform at home. Please understand that Iranians themselves have come to the conclusion that the only solution to our present dilemma is a Western-style democracy, complete with freedom of the press, secularism, equality between sexes, and respect for other religious and political beliefs."

Is this report authentic? It almost sounds like a piece of CIA or Israeli Mossad fiction. I want to see the original article and its URL.

Wanting freedom and democracy is one thing. But begging Colin Powell, Arlen Specter, Chuck Hagel, or any other American fascist leader to be your saviours is either extremely naive or politically suicidal. The USA does not want TRUE democracy and freedom in Iran. After all, it was the USA which OVERTHREW the democratically elected president of Iran, Mossadegh, in 1958 for the crime of nationalizing Iran's oil industry. Worse yet, it was the USA which supported, sponsored, and supplied the bloody regime of the Shah of Iran and his infamous SAVAK police for over two decades.

Leave it to a Left Wing Terrorist Sympathizer 16.Oct.2002 05:01

Concerned Parent

.....to question this woman's credibility.


 http://www.nationalreview.com/comment/comment-tehrani101502.asp

In the Leftist's view, anyone who has ever suffered at the hands of a tyranny HAS to have been the victim of "evil American imperialists."

You wonder why your movement is suffering so greatly now. You wonder why you failed to stop the planning and imminent American liberation of Iraq.

You may still save yourself if you pray for America to liberate Iran.

remember the shah? anyone? 16.Oct.2002 07:47

this thing here

he was our guy in iran. we loved him. but his internal security forces killed and tortured anyone opposed to his rule. and guess what happened? that's right, the iranian people said, "this sucks, fuck the shah, anything is better than this guy," and so ayatollah khomeini stepped in and the rest is history.

america is more likely to bomb iran, and set up another westernized puppet dictatorship than it is to "liberate" iran. and all this will do is start the same cycle all over again.

so along comes 2002, and how does the "right" wing in america deal with iran? and what does president bush do? does he reach out to progessives and reformers in iran? does he try to help reformers in iran? no. he simply labels the entire nation of iran as one element of the "axis of evil". thereby alienating and confusing many who felt a growing friendship toward the west in general and america in particular. and as well, giving more fuel to the repressive fundamentalist islamic leadership in iran, who can say, "look they hate us, so we can hate them all over again!"

i think iran must figure out itself how it will resolve its future, must figure out itself how the progressives deal with the islamists. if america rides in on a high horse, and sets up a westernized puppet regime, the regime will be tainted forever in the eyes of many iranians. how can america help the reformers without tainting them? i don't have any answers. perhaps some iranian-americans could offer something to this debate...

Sorry for your kids 16.Oct.2002 09:51

My name

But, Concerned Parent, who will liberate the USA?????

NPRin' it homes 16.Oct.2002 18:42

speculat0r pointoinfinity@yahoo.com

'To us, the Islamic revolution has failed. The system, in its entirely, is the problem; no Band-Aid reform will fix it. Iran's 23-year-old theocracy is as incapable of granting freedom and human rights as was the Soviet Union. No politician associated with the Islamic Republic is acceptable to us. There are no reformers in the clerical government. Our real reformers are among the 600,000 languishing in prison, or the hundreds of candidates who are disqualified in each election for believing in human rights or secularism. Do not sell out our freedom because of Khatami's meaningless double talk and irrelevant rhetoric. He is simply a smiling face of an ugly regime.'

--to add to "this thing here"'s commentary--i've noticed a lot of NPRs post-9-11 "reporting" could be construed as an attempt to generate sympathy/empathy (or the pseudo variety of those that conservatives tend to react with) for the "poor people who don't have the good life that we have over here in the West". the strange thing is, such a construing can be worked by people on any and all sides of the relevant issues, liberals, conservatives, anybody.

the reaction of a person on one level depends on the type of information and manner in which it is presented. sometimes information is shared not just to simply inform; since information works to "tranform/guide" a persons thinking, it can be used to overtly do so--it doesn't even have to be mis/disinformation or lies. also, a person reacts relative to their beliefs and their 'nature', yada.

taking the 1st sentence in the quote, though this is a very generalized statement, a position is taken by the author that is very controversial--and all too vital to the understanding of why this thing was written anyway. it is a sort of thesis statement, one which could get a persons head chopped off by certain people who might be offended by it. (oh, ironically, i was flipping through the radio dial and i ran into, surprise, NPR where Salman Rushdie--author of the reportedly not too pro-Islamic "The Satanic Verses" (1988)--was being interviewed regarding his views on Islamic culture in the world with particular focus on Muslims in america. i'll just say that i personally believe "NPR" stands for Nazi Propaganda Radio. sorry for the lack of 'professionalism' in my commenting).

so if this supposed person supposedly feels this way, i guess they got good reasons and will present them.

"Understand we want freedom"..."Our reasons are quite simple and obvious: We do not follow the Arab or the Islamic model...We are Muslims, but our sense of Iranian national identity dwarfs any religious identity we hold. We are proud heirs of a once-great civilization...predating Islam."

--blah blah blah--there may be potential contradictions in this text. you'd have to talk to this person to get a better feel for what she means.

"Secretary Colin Powell, Senators Arlen Specter and Chuck Hagel, please understand that Iranians are no less deserving of freedom and equality than are residents of Pennsylvania or Nebraska."

--weren't these guys recently questioned for their questioning the need to go to war with Iraq? least that's what the oregonian told me the other morning.

"Do not listen to the growing number of organizations like the American-Iranian Council [AIC]."

--so they're *growing* in number? uh oh, *ALERT!ALERT! RAISE YOUR LEVEL OF "FEAR/LOATHING" BY A FACTOR OF 10! ALERT!ALERT!*

"Shame, we say, if a few campaign dollars are able to divert the focus away from the issue of freedom and human rights for an entire people."

--i say ALL "campaign dollars" around the world go toward such a diversionary tactic. the people of the world may not the rights having supposedly been granted to them by some dictatorial authority or the freedom to even complain about it if such is the case. if they can complain, the money has been used to manufacture the faerie dust used to cause others to go to sleep when such issues are raised (the commercials for the faerie dust run during the local news).

to paraphrase Puff Daddy a.k.a. P-Diddy, mo' money, m0' slavery.

"To us, the Islamic revolution has failed. The system, in its entirely"

--ew, is this a bit of 'authentication', hmm? :) whatever. maybe it was rush job; maybe spell checkers are hard to come by--or the wordprocessing programs are..or the machines to run them are..or the electricity to run the machines..or the wall sockets to convey the electricity...or the walls to route the wall sockets...maybe things are just hard to come by in Iran. looks like a job for good ol' Western democracy and freedom (laugh).

as for the entire system of Islam being a failure, tell that to the person who has adhered to the 'less harmful' tenets of Islam (though maybe they decided to change a few of them, you know, cuz they did seem a bit backwards, logically speaking of course), led a peaceful life and has been a "good" person overall. this person has failed along with the system, right?

on the topic of group think: notice how the people of Iran want something as a collective; "the people" allegedly see everything from the perspective of "us". i don't agree with any argument presented that endorses the need for some type of strictly defined social organization or system to absolutely be in place for the benefit of the people. they iranian people (and people everywhere really) just want to be free. when people are free, they tend to have a choice as to how they function in their environment, socially or otherwise (hm, just thought of some metaphysical arguments to ponder).

NOBODY NEEDS SOCIETY TO BE FREE, SOCIETY IS NOT FREEDOM UNLESS EVERYONE IS THINKING ACCORDINGLY WITH THE SOCIETY. YOU CAN NOT BE 'FREE' WITHIN A SOCIETY, YOU ARE A MEMBER OF THE SET OF "SOCIETY", NOT OF YOUR OWN SET--YOU ARE NOT YOUR OWN, YOU ARE BELONG TO SOCIETY. (IMO, please feel free to disagree)

i must say that i personally don't give a crap about politics; it truly is a grand waste of time, unless of course you're a self-centered, self-interested, egomaniacal human being who happens to have forgotten that they are just a small part of a great big universe and that they can't always get what they be politiking for...that they can't always get what they want.

it's interesting (to a point) to deconstruct such material, to wonder--is there a general "speech writer" for this stuff walking the halls of some underground bunker that is home to the SUPER SECRET US GOVERNMENT?..who knows :)

shit, i'm tired, my ass hurts AND i'm ranting (though others probably don't care about my ass).

imagine knowing whether this is propaganda. it either is or isn't. reading it and thinking about things dynamically and reacting 'accordingly' seems to be the best option to combat such potential efforts to mindfuck us(next to doing nothing at all and "Oming" life away).

(um, could/would there be an "agenda" of sorts with regards to world control/domination that involves the use of certain methods/tactics designed specifically for controlling the very thinking and emotional responsiveness of humans? just asking)

--------------------------------------
links
--------------------------------------
Salman Rushdie's Satanic Verses http://www.wsu.edu:8080/~brians/anglophone/satanic_verses/

LEAVE IT TO A RIGHT WING AMERICAN TERRORIST.. 16.Oct.2002 23:29

skeptic

To cite a National Review article and demand that it be accepted as anything more than horseshit.

Sorry, "concerned fascist" you are gonna have to do alot better than cite some Right wing rag like the National Review if you want to gain any credibility here.

The National Review is a Neocon mouthpiece which, among other things, called for "nuking Mecca" (Rich Lowery) and invading Muslim countries and converting them to Christianity (Ann Coulter). The National Review is pure unadulterated American fanaticism at its very pathetic past.

It may appeal to you whitebread fascists in Middle America who vote Republican and believe whatever Bill O'Reilly tells you to believe--but it won't cut ice with anybody else.
LEAVE IT TO A RIGHT WING AMERICAN TERRORIST..
LEAVE IT TO A RIGHT WING AMERICAN TERRORIST..