How effective have Iranians outside Iran been in
changing the government
Iran since the revolution? Why or why not?
Iranian oppositions have not been so successful in
their effort to make positive changes in Iran. They
have been widely divided and mostly concerned about
their own parties or groups "interest" and have not
been able to attract people to take part in the
political process and form an organized opposition.
once mainly composed of militant students,
financially supported by their parents, formed one
of the most powerful students organizations called
"Iranian Students Confederation", that had the
ability to mobilize young people and bring together
a wide range of political spectrum to oppose Shah.
But, the bitter experience of the last two defeated
revolutions in Iran, combined with the universal
pessimism of the post cold war, has created a
non-political environment in which the politics is
not a major concern for the young Iranian and even
American youth in general. Many of the two million
Iranians leaving in the US are financially well off
and don't have any intention of returning to Iran.
So the Iranian opposition is mainly composed of some
part time volunteers who although very anxious, do
not have the adequate financial resources to put up
a real and efficient fight. Obviously a weak
opposition does not have a popular base in Iran and
as such does not play a significant role in Iranian
In recent years,
the Iranian opposition has become much more
realistic and trying to appreciates its potential
and explores its opportunities. Our own
organization, Mehr Foundation, was formed based on
the pressing need to come out of the Iranian circle
and find sympathizers among freedom loving American
people. We have also concentrated our effort on
addressing the human rights issues in its most
general way so that these concepts become
institutionalized regardless of our ideological
belief or forms of government or our economical
Iranian have done very little to directly inform the
world community and obtain their support. Our
activities in exposing the Islamic Republic of Iran
have been mainly limited to contacting the head of
the governments, Human Rights organizations or the
Iranian circles. In the process, we have neglected
our most powerful ally, the freedom loving community
of the world. Islamic republic of Iran has done
exactly the opposite. While engaging in terrorist
activities inside and outside Iran, the IRI has
tried very hard in recent years, to hide its ugly
face by taking parts in various seminars ranging
from women affairs to child care and trying to
portray itself as the champion of civil society and
the dialog between civilization.
We need the support
of the people of the world to force the IRI to
observe the Human rights in Iran by pressuring their
Governments and demanding that:
The relations with the IRI
must be contingent upon the complete stop of human
right violations certified by the Human Rights
Organizations and the UN Commission on HR.
Provide support and help for
bringing to justice those who committed crimes
against humanity in Iran through the existing
avenues such as International Criminal Court and
Convention against Torture.
Our symposium in
May 20th was the first step towards such
a policy and we see some very promising signs that
it will be supported by other Iranian activists and
Why are radio stations, TV stations, and other
groups reaching out in greater numbers now, as
opposed to 10, 15 or 20 years ago? (for example, the
radio show KRSI broadcasts to Iran, or NITV)
The Radio and TV
stations in the USA are formed to serve different
purposes. Some of those newly formed are purely
commercials and are even trying to de-politicize the
Iranian community and in a way are diverting
people's attention from the Islamic Regime abuses
and make people even more passive in that sense.
Some have kept a balance and in addition to
advancing their own interests, have also given a
voice to other views. Overall, it has been a good
development and has encouraged people to participate
in political and social debates.
When did you come here? Did you plan to go back when
you first came, and
first came to the USA in 1977. I thought that was
for good. But when the political turmoil in Iran
started I naturally got involved.
I had a good position at USC and two months
away from getting my Green Card when the 1979
revolution occurred. I left everything and went back
My second forced
departure was in November 1982 after three amazing
years during which all hopes for democracy in Iran
were vanished. I went underground because of my
political activities in general and especially my
open political activities in Aria Mehr University of
Technology in Tehran, and forced to come to exile
again. We formed the Independent Centers of
Professors in Aria Mehr University that soon
became a model and we managed to establish similar
Centers with identical goals
in other Universities all over the country.
We staged a wide spread strike to oppose the closure
of the universities under the name of "Cultural
Revolution" To break the strike, they forbid us from
into the University. But the strike went on.
The Mojahedin uprising and the following policy of
ultimate terror of the regime eventually broke our
resistance. Some of our colleagues were arrested and
executed some imprisoned and
some managed to leave the country. I was one
of those lucky ones.
Did I think of
returning to Iran? Yes I did. Do I still think of
it? Yes I do.
What kind of government would you like to see in
Iran? Would you move
if it existed?
I know that my
ideal form of government does not have an immediate
chance in Iran. So my goals are very long term.
Right now, I have a very limited expectation of the
government that would replace the IR. I would like
to see a government coming out of a free election in
which all parties, group, and people regardless of
their political or religious affiliation can
participate. As indicated in my last talk in
Kannon-e Sokhan, during Q&A, I would like to see a
government that will allow me to oppose its policies
and advocate my ideas without fear of persecution,
imprisonment, torture and execution.
Of course, this is far from a
real "free election".
Just as an example, the economical hardship
and illitracy do not even allow a large number of
Iranian to participate in any political process
including elections. In a society that has not
practiced democracy for centuries because of the
tyronical rulers, it will take more than a change
government to bring about democracy. It needs a
change of culture.
Would I go back? I
have become a little wiser now. I will somehow test
the ground and then, yes, I will move back!
What bothers you most about the current regime? (Are
pro-Islamic revolution or something else?)
about the current regime bothers me. They have
ruined a country that has
all the necessary background
and potential to be a modern one. They have forced
their backward ideology to a nation that does not
comply with it and as result they have tried to
eliminate all oppositions. Their barbaric rules and
ideas are not compatible with the universally
accepted human rights concepts. And regardless of
how their most dedicated reformers try to interpret
their religious belief, they regard the human rights
only as long as it does not violate the Islamic
Islamic regime has
shown us once again that how destructive, the
interference of religion and state could be. Having
governed based on the Islamic laws, they have tried
in the last 21 years to interfere in every aspect of
people's life and try to shape it to their liking.
They have imprisoned, tortured, and killed thousands
and thousands and have not succeeded.
Under the pressure,
mainly economical, one of the regime's faction has
come to the realization that it is not possible to
survive like this and is trying to make some changes
to save the system. They want to portray a
democratic face while making minimum changes, to
calm down the people and meanwhile satisfy the
conditions of the Western governments to obtain
their support. What will be sacrificed here will be
the human rights of millions who want a secular
I am obviously not
a pro Shah or a pro Islamic. There were days that
you would say you were left, right, socialist,
communist or …. and you would define yourself.
Nowadays the meaning of all these terms have
drastically changed. So, I don't like to be
identified just with a not well-understood term. I
would like to be judged by what I do. But if you
insist, I would regard myself as a humanist who
believe in social justice and democracy in all its
political, social, and economical forms.