In Defense of Prince Reza Pahlavi
For over thirty years, I have written many critics of monarchy for Iran, and I do not need to repeat any of that, to elaborate my position, that monarchy is *not* a future for Iran, and only a republic, and more specifically, a democratic federal republic, is the solution for Iran's prosperity.
Before the fall of the Shah's regime, I opposed the Shah's regime's dictatorship both in the Confederation of Iranian Students abroad, and afterwards when living in Iran, and I have written on several occasions about the atrocities of Savak, when I was interrogated by them, and have also noted about the many people who suffered under the Shah's dictatorship, or lost their lives in the hands of Shah's executioners:
What I would like to write here is the reality of the opposition to the IRI (Islamic Republic of Iran). The reality of fighting the atrocities of this regime and its Vevak. The reality of struggle for democracy and human rights in the last 23 years.
The reality is that Prince Reza Pahlavi, although has not fully condemned the dictatorship of the Shah's politics and Shah's regime, and has not fully supported secularism, nonetheless, he has strongly condemned the lack of democracy and violations of human rights in Iran, which was the main reason for the fall of Shah's regime.
In contrast, lack of modernism and promoting backwardness, defended by many opposition groups, under different flags of independence, Islam , workers demands, or mostazafin's desires, was the reason for their support of Islamic Republic, and most of those forces, have not fully condemned their reactionary political stands of the past.
Moreover the IRI collaborators still continue to justify their reactionary political stands by attacking Prince Reza Pahlavi. The question is who has been acting more progressively in the last 23 years? Let's look at the IRI collaborators who have been lobbying for IRI in the U.S. to share in the blood money of IRI and compare their actions with Prince Reza Pahlavi. Which one has been on the side of the Iranian people for democracy, progress, and justice and which one has been supporting fascism, backwardness, and injustice of the kind of IRI. If Prince Reza Pahlavi has understood that dictatorship of the past monarchy should be superseded with democracy, have the so-called melli-mazhabis understood that the backward Islamism should be replaced with secularism, or they are still continuing on their collaboration with IRI, to block the progress of Iran to full secularism and democracy, and to receive their share of blood money from IRI.
When was the last time the leaders of Nehzat-e Azadi criticized themselves for the mixing of religion and state. They criticize the monarchists to cover up their own lack of any progress after 23 years of suffering of Iranian people with this mixing of religion and politics, which started with them, and they are still the IRI collaborators justifying the Vevak torture of IRI, under the banner of so-called independence, and they think the people are stupid to see their critic of monarchy is *not* because of wanting more democracy, but it is because they want more interference of religion in politics than what the monarchists have in their constitution. In short their opposition to Prince Reza Pahlavi is a *reactionary* opposition, and not a progressive one, wanting more democracy, progress, and secularism in Iran. I have already written enough about the independence rhetoric of the IRI apologists and collaborators and do not need to repeat what I have already written:
The question now is what has the Prince Reza Pahlavi done in the last 23 years in support of democracy and human rights, which was the main shortcoming of Shah's regime, and what have the IRI collaborators done in support of modernizing Iran and opposing the retrogression of Iran in the last 23 years.
Prince Reza Pahlavi has been doing a great work to promote democracy and human rights in Iran, by talking to the press and various international organizations abroad. I have not seen anybody else to have done as much contacts with the press and let's not belittle his efforts by saying that he has money, etc. He could have used his money and done a lot of other things, that would have nothing to do with politics. Or even in political work, he could have spent his money to promote the past monarchy and not bother about the issues of democracy and human rights in Iran and could have attacked the IRI from the angle of inappropriateness of republic for Iran. But he has *not* done that. Although I wish he would drop monarchy altogether, yet he has not really spent all his energy promoting the monarchy. In fact, in all fairness, I would say that he has spoken for all those who are under torture and execution in Iran, and not just the monarchists who have been under IRI attacks. I hope all his efforts and all the sacrifices of pro-democracy activists inside and outside Iran, for over a century, to culminate in a real secular republic, which is the only way for Iran to stay truthful to the ideals of democracy and human rights. Prince Reza Pahlavi seems to me to have an honest interest in human rights and democracy and I have written the following open letter to him a long time ago:
We should not go backwards after almost a quarter century of sacrifices in battling the Islamic fascism in Iran. It would be the worst day of our lives if like the new government of Afghanestan, we see the successor of Islamic Republic, to make Shari'a the basis of our judicial system, and again the clergy to become the judges of our people, in our land, and this means any compromise with the so-called melli-mazhabis' reactionary views, is to compromise on Iran's future, which needs nothing short of full secularism, which means the complete separation of state and religion. Moreover all these IRI collaborators should be condemned as the reactionary forces and not be called progressive while Prince Reza Pahlavi is addressed outside the progressive forces. Prince Reza Pahlavi is a lot more progressive than all these melli-mazhabis who hold the most reactionary views in the opposition of IRI, and want to bring down the expectations of Iranians to a modified version of IRI.
What have these IRI collaborators done in the last 23 years? Have they said anything to the senators they are in contact with, protesting Khomeini's death threat to Salman Rushdie? Have they said anything to the world press about the slaughter of Bakhtiar, Ghasemloo, Foruhars, Mokhtari? Have they condemned the stonings that are done in Iran and have they raised the issue with the senators they meet everyday to pressure IRI to stop these barbaric practices? Have they talked to UN and other international organizations about the IRI's torture and arrest of journalists and the closing of newspapers in Iran? Then they have the nerves to put down Prince Reza Pahlavi, who regardless of his shortcoming of not announcing the end of monarchy and not fully condemning the atrocities of Shah's regime, has in the last 23 years, spoken for human rights and democracy, and not for obscurantism and dictatorship, which these IRI collaborators have defended to share in the IRI blood money.
I believe for Prince Reza Pahlavi to be fully truthful to his call for human rights and democracy, it is not enough just to condemn the atrocities under the Shah (even though he has not fully done that either). He should call the end of the system of monarchy for Iran, which is nothing but the prospect for another era of dictatorship, and he should participate in formulation of a new constitution for a democratic republic from now, and work with others to make sure all the necessary checks and balances are predicted in the future constitution, and in doing so, I am sure the dictatorial forces will fly away from his surroundings, and will look for another king.
I think the Iranian democratic forces should not wait for the fall of IRI to start working on the new constitution and should be proactive about it. I believe Prince Reza Pahlavi supporting such an effort is the best he can do to help achieving the real unity of Iranians based on the possibilities of the future and not glory of the past. The unity of Iranians around Islamism or Monarchism belongs to the pre-industrial life of Iran and ever since mashrootiat, the advanced forces of Iran called for the unity of Iranians around democracy, civil society, and law and other possibilities of the future and not the glory of the past:
I think Prince Reza Pahlavi is in a similar situation as Ahmad Shah. Ahmad Shah *was* democratic-minded and also independence-minded, when in Switzerland, although contrary to prince Reza Pahlavi, he alienated himself from the UK. I think it is good that Prince Reza Pahlavi has kept a good working relations with U.S. and the West. I think it is great that he is talking to the press, UN, US Congress and the international organizations about democracy and human rights in Iran. His support of democracy for Iran will impact any future government of Iran, whether he'd be part of it or not. However, I think he should be outspoken about the atrocities of the past Pahlavi monarchy, as I have noted before, which many like myself had suffered under the heinous past monarchy.
As I wrote before, Ahmad Shah should have done the same about Qajar, and particularly about Mohammad Ali Shah's dictatorship. He should have been the first to criticize the anti-secularism of having Shi'a as the official religion of Iran as well as the veto of 5 mojteheds in Iran's 1906 Constitution. He should have been the first to condemn the despotism and bombardment of Iran's parliament (betoop bastan-e majles) by his father, Mohammad Ali Shah, which was a very fresh memory for the democrats of Iran in the early 1900s. Ahmad Shah should have been the first one to condemn the bombing of majles and despotism of his father Mohammad Ali Shah, if he wanted to get the support of the democratic-minded Iranians, and the same goes for Prince Reza Pahlavi. That does not mean condemning his father as a father, which is a personal relationship, but it means condemning the despotism of his father's politics and regime.
The Iranian pro-Democracy movement is growing everyday and although the regime killed the leaders of this movement such as Bakhtiar, Ghasemloo, Foruhars, MokhtAri and others, new leaders have since emerged, people like Simin Behbahani, Heshmat Tabarzadi, and many others. The formation of new democratic groups and organizations in the Eastern Block, and other parts of the world, has been the way to establish a democratic state, and not trying to make a coalition of some age-old groups such as the Monarchists, National-Islamists, Communists, and the like. Democratic groups need to focus on plans and actions to form the seeds of civil law and assembly, which is secular, democratic, and future_oriented, and not based on a monarchy, or any other obsolete forms of state. When such groups take over the state or participate in the state, their structure and plans, platforms and programs, will impact and form the future state structure. The common denominator of the obsolete political groupings is *not* going to end up in a new democratic structure.
I think anyone interested in the future of Iran should look at these models, but the first step is to support democracy, human rights, modernism, and secularism for Iran and Prince Reza Pahlavi has taken that step whereas the IRI collaborators who think of themselves as more "progressive" than him, have a long way to go, if ever. They should stop collaborating with IRI and that means giving up on the blood money they are sharing with IRI, before they can even be considered as part of the opposition. Next is that their reactionary views of anti-secularism are against the interests of Iran and Iranians and must be fought with, and no progressive plans for Iran should make any compromise with the reactionary anti-secular views of these IRI collaborators.
Here is the FRAMEWORK I recently proposed for unity. I think working on such a framework is the way to organize an independent democratic and progressive organization to provide the political leadership for Iran, to achieve a democratic and progressive system, and not just give sacrifices to restore a dictatorial system, which we discarded 23 years ago, with a lot of sacrifices at that time:
I believe Prince Reza Pahlavi has done a lot of great work and the attacks of IRI collaborators on him are not because they oppose monarchy's dictatorship, or that they want more democracy than the monarchists, but the reason for their attacks is that they do *not* even want to see modernism, secularism, democracy, and human rights in Iran, which Prince Reza Pahlavi is speaking for, and that the IRI collaborators' main opposition to him is not because Prince Reza Pahlavi is not secular enough or has not condemned the past dictatorship enough, but it is because he is more secular than they like and they prefer IRI anti-secularism to any secular leader heading the Iranian state. Moreover, their attacks on Prince Reza Pahlavi is because he wants modernism and they want retrogression, it is because Prince Reza Pahlavi calls for human rights whereas they do not condemn the Islamist positions of stoning and murder of heretics, and the Qessas laws. In short, as far as the issue of democracy is concerned, the IRI collaborators are more similar to the past monarchy than Prince Reza Pahlavi.
Hoping for a Secular, Democratic, Federal, and Future_Oriented Republic of Iran.
Sam Ghandchi, Publisher
May 11, 2002