WWho and what is the Islamic Regime's alternative?

Regarding the statement of 14 people in Iran


Mohammad Parvin

August 2, 2019


In response to my previous post on the statement of fourteen activists in Iran [1], one

of the activists abroad sent me an email and asked: 


"Suppose the Islamic Regime was overthrown tomorrow or next week or next month.

What is the Alternative really and who is it?"

I gave him a short answer and will try to address this very important question a little more in this writing.

The Islamic Regime will not be overthrown by itself even after another forty years. And, its overthrow by a military invasion and coup, etc., will never bring about democracy. 

This regime has been the best alternative for the interest-driven governments of the world. 

One of the main factors behind such a situation is and has been our lack of action, counting on only slogans, issuing petitions and statements. We have been unable to get involved in actions that could result in the empowerment of the Iranians and show the real and better alternative to the entire world.

Armed uprising and fighting cannot overthrow the Islamic regime, which has the most advanced weapons and will not abstain from killing thousands to save its regime. If the possibility of a successful armed uprising could be shown, I would have no problem with it personally. 

The far more rational solution is the battle of disobedience. I believe that the overthrow of the Islamic regime is possible only with the participation of millions of people in the battle of civil disobedience.

But the battle of disobedience is not shaped by the slogan. Political activists need to learn how to do it, and to organize and disseminate dissatisfied people inside Iran from the outset, and in the anonymous form at the beginning (not starting by issuing a statement with their names on it!).

As an observer of the fights in Iran, I have never tried and will try to tell the militants in Iran what to do. But with my knowledge of conditions inside Iran, I think that I should be allowed to share my thoughts with others. If we look at the struggles of the Iranian people, it demonstrates the fact that they are pursuing disobedience campaigns. The protests and disobedience of some of the Iranian women by saying no to the Islamic Regime and breaking the hijab law is an example of this campaign [2].

Freedom fighters in Iran have found that this bloody regime cannot be fought with cannons and tanks. They know that carrying on a covert armed struggle cannot attract unhappy people. As a force and movement that does not include the informed masses, it either doesn't have any chance for success, or even if happened to succeed under extremely exceptional circumstances, and the transfer of power was done, it wouldn't result in freedom and democracy.

Forces that come to power without the involvement of the informed masses, usually consider power only their own right because they have fought for it. Most of all, they usually believe that the people owe them and ask: " where you were at the time of our bloodshed." And with that logic, they will never dare to put themselves to the vote of the people.

The option of the disobedience fight to overthrow the Islamic regime is not picked out of fear or any humanistic concern. It doesn't have any similarity with the struggles within the regime's rules and laws and reforms movements.

The Islamic regime that owns our country will block any movement. We cannot just push it aside and pass by it!

The battle of disobedience that is aimed at the totality of the system of oppression, never reconcile and its only aim is to overthrow the Islamic regime. Its organizers consider their battle more serious than to give their suppressors their names at the beginning of this battle. We have to put aside relying on the statements and challenge each other on practical solutions. The battle of disobedience must first be first learned and then commented on.

Some progressive groups in Iran have adopted the method of disobedience by pursuing appropriate methods in accordance with the present conditions of our society. These groups although have not yet received the support of the dissatisfied but passive and indigenous populations and although may not be well equipped with theories and actions of disobedience struggle, have been able to make the regime somewhat shaky and unstable.

However, the Islamic regime has been able to control and prevent the expansion of these movements. It has done it by consistently suppressing social-political activists, exploiting interest-driven elements inside and outside Iran (active lobbyists), distorting fundamental issues, exploiting political burnout and repentance, promoting a reformist mindset, and finally the help of the Western countries.

We should be able to take these destructive tools out of the regime's hands.

Disobedience struggles will continue to be suppressed by the regime if it remains spontaneous and unorganized. The degree of the regime's brutality in dealing with disobedience struggles and the timing of its intensification depends on different conditions inside and outside the border. So, beyond all these discussions, the fundamental problem that must be resolved is how to organize the disobedience campaign.

In the MEHR group, we have learned a lot about the disobedience movement and the way it has been practiced in many places and countries, and we are still learning. No uprising and struggle can be repeated, but one can learn from them. For our part, we have shared with other activists what we have learned from the years of research and investigation of Professor Gene Sharp and others [3].

We have also shared this information with freedom fighters within Iran to the extent that our capabilities permitted us. 

But this was nothing that a small group of people with limited resources could do. We got in touch with activists outside Iran and asked them to form an organized movement to achieve this goal. Unfortunately, we didn't get anywhere and although very painful, we had to stop. The statement of the fourteen people made these pains more alive and I personally could not avoid raising my voice again!

The key point to keep in the mind is that the smart people in Iran are witnessing that they are not only facing this cruel regime but the entire world that is only seeking their own interests. A world that thinks that this regime will serve their interests in the present situation and therefore their only condition for the continuation of trade and economic tie to this regime is related to nuclear activities and interventions of the regime in the region. The human rights condition has always been a decorative pot on every negotiating table, but it has never been practically put beside the atomic conditions.

This is where one of the important roles we could and still can play overseas can be addressed. We can empower the freedom-seeking Iranians in their efforts by united and inclusive efforts around the demand of not giving recognition to the Islamic regime and form an opposition in the process.

This is not possible with begging and the plea to the humanitarian obligations of foreign statesmen. We must raise the issue of not giving recognition to the Islamic regime globally by seeking help from the people of our residence countries and participating in the political process to be able to become a determining and reckoning force among governments and politicians. Our efforts and demands should be concentrated at the beginning at the stop of human rights violation in Iran and as a first step release of all political prisoners and prisoners of conscience.

This also cannot be done easily. It needs a broad unity of action and a widespread organizing effort. To do this, Iranians must be prepared to participate in the political process of their residence countries. We should ask the people of the world who have been informed about the human rights abuses in Iran to use their voting power. Civil society organizations, trade unions, women's organizations, artists, etc. should be sought to impose on Western governments the requirement that the release of the political prisoners and prisoners of conscience be among the conditions for smart sanctions.

If tens of thousands of Iranians, with the help of the others, indicated above and behind the call for a cessation of human rights violations and the release of political prisoners by smart sanctions could change the fate of political elections here and there around the world, then it will start the competition among the political parties and their politicians to earn our votes by addressing our demands. This will have a very positive outcome for the opposition abroad. Our actions would become much more eye-catching if we could attract international organizations including human rights organizations to support our task.

The hollow slogan, "Political Prisoner Must Be Released", has not and will not achieve anything. This slogan should become practical and tangible in an effort to make the release of political prisoners a prerequisite for any relationship with the Islamic regime.

This effort may also fail to achieve its goal, but in its process may achieve other very important goals.

Our united effort all over the world around one defined goal will give us a distinct identity that we do not currently have. For the first time, the Iranians inside Iran observe that the majority of Iranians abroad are demanding something specific by mobilizing freedom-loving people all around the world. Something that encompasses their interests. And this is what will enable activists and organizers within Iran to become more effective in bringing the people into action. And this is a brilliant start to the expansion of disobedient struggles.

This is the safest and most natural way to create a viable opposition. This effort, in the process of forming itself, will find its leadership just like any other collective movement, and will give united and unified overseas efforts such an identity that they deserve to call themselves opposition.

The organizers of the disobedience movement in Iran will also gradually become more powerful in the light of the identification of an outside opposition that calls and acts for their rights to be acknowledged practically.  This will empower the organizers and accelerate their growth. They will also naturally find their own leadership in the process.

Leadership will emerge from within and through these efforts. An alternative that without any doubt is not an individual but rather a united organization that has been able to shape and advance disobedience movements and is therefore supported by the freedom fighters in Iran.

This alternative, in its widespread form, which is backed by Iranians inside and outside Iran and by freedom-loving people around the world, will eventually impose itself to the interest-driven foreign governments.

We should not sit down in the hope of such a day. To make it happen we must move from writing "statements" to action.




1- Passing by the Islamic Regime or Overthrowing it?

2- Iranian Women Fighting for Their Basic Rights

3- Disobedience

Mohammad Parvin, Ph.D., is a former faculty member of California Institute of Technology and an adjunct professor at the California State University, and Founding Director of the Mission for Establishment of Human Rights in Iran (MEHR)

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