MEHR.ORG, A Word with Iranian Intellectuals Abroad
It is now 23 years since the Islamic Republic of Iran has been established in Iran and many Iranians inside and outside of Iran lost their lives opposing this theocratic regime. We all know Shahpour Bakhtiar, Ghasemloo, Forouhars and others who lost their lives in this struggle. The question for every Iranian intellectual is why there is no tangible result from all these efforts?!
Some of us say that the problem is the lack of unity of the opposition and we suggest different ways to overcome this issue. Some think the unity of opposition should be the unity of existing organizations as they are, and some others like myself think a democratization in these organizations as well as formation of new organizations with focus on the future is what is needed to enable us not only properly challenge the IRI but also to effectively manage the future democratic Iran. We have written on these views a lot and my purpose of this article is not to argue about those discussions.
Regardless of how the unity happens, basically people will do what they are doing today, but in a united organization, which hopefully will be more effective than the current activities. But if what the people are doing today is basically not that useful, then even if it is done in a united organization, it will still not be that effective.
As far as the Iranian opposition inside Iran and how they are working and getting into its details, I am not going to discuss it here. In this article, I just want to take a look at what Iranian intellectuals have been doing abroad in the last 23 years and see if they continue in the same way, whether they are of any significance in changing the situation of Iran and Iranians.
Yes, the Iranian intellectuals abroad are a large force both in view of their knowledge and education and in view of their social and financial position. So the question is why what they do is not making any impact?
Frankly the Iranian intellectuals abroad have discussed anything you can dream of in the last 23 years. Just a simple visit to the many many Iranian forums on the Internet can show one the time and efforts that are spent on how to take positions on this and that issue. If Khamenei coughs tomorrow, there are so many articles analyzing his cough and people taking the accurate positions on his cough. Are these of any significance?
The question is that compared to all these efforts on taking positions about various minute topics and even worrying whether 2000 years ago Achaemenian kings approved of polygamy or not, what has any real activity been abroad?
Well, there are basically two groups of active intellectuals abroad.
The first group are the IRI apologists. Those who support IRI (Islamic Republic of Iran) and they care about some discriminations against Iranians such as fingerprinting by the US government to gather support for IRI. In fact, they never criticize the IRI regime's hostage-taking, stoning, murder of dissidents, or fatwa against Salman Rushdie, the actions that *are* the real reason for all the discrimination against Iranians abroad. They are actually IRI lobbyists and they use issues such as fingerprinting of Iranians to find sympathy among the US congress for IRI. I do not really care to say much about these IRI apologists who keep the facade of caring about Iran and Iranians. Many of them are in business with IRI. They are doing what they want to achieve and their success in their goals is success for IRI.
The second group of intellectuals are those who oppose IRI and see that the discrimination against Iranians abroad is because of the actions of IRI regime. Actions such as hostage-taking, death fatwa against Rushdie, and killing of dissidents, etc. Now what has this group of intellectuals done about their goal to show the West that the fingerprinting and other such discriminations are actually helping IRI to gather support and also to show Iranians abroad that discrimination against them is because of IRI.
Well, the only serious organization that has done this kind of work is MEHR organization ( www.mehr.org ) founded by Dr. Mohammad Parvin which is based in the U.S. MEHR.ORG has been very active to create a voting block of Iranians to enable it to impact what happens to interests of Iranians in the U.S., and also to enable it to show the American public that the real victims of IRI theocracy are Iranians themselves, both in Iran and abroad, and that Iranians are the ones who are fighting this terrorist state for over 23 years, and that Americans should support Iranians in their struggle for democracy in Iran and against discrimination abroad..
Let's see what our intellectuals have done to help MEHR. How many people have supported MEHR financially? We Iranians are very careful for evaluating our politicians and leaders to be independent and not rely on any foreign power. Then shouldn't that mean that we should financially help our human rights and political organizations?
Have we participated in the activities of MEHR and created chapters for it in various parts of the world, in various colleges and communities, to create progressive voting blocks of Iranians in different countries of the world? Well, this is the only way that Iranians abroad can influence the foreign policies of various countries in relation to IRI. Otherwise, whenever these states see it to their benefit to have full relations with IRI, they will easily disregard human rights conditions in Iran. Yes, when Iranians do not have a voting block, we can be easily ignored, whether in relations to the discrimination against Iranians abroad or to pressure IRI on human rights issues.
So what MEHR is doing is actually to enable the Iranians abroad to be a force in the world to impact the situation of Iranians abroad against any discriminations as well as helping the cause of human rights inside Iran by clearly taking a stand against the IRI. Now how many of Iranian intellectuals spend time to help these activities of MEHR in their capacity?
Let me go back to taking positions on every minute thing and spending time to discuss how the negotiations of Yasser Arafat and Barak went when they talked. I would like to ask those same people who are so concerned about Israel and Palestine, what they have done for an organization like MEHR?
In the last few years many initiatives started by those who were not really doing any real activity like MEHR and they ended up doing some waste of time like they were doing individually before and finally those initiatives died. Seminars and conventions should be formed by those who are currently active like the MEHR organization and they can find better program and structure for a united organization that can cover wider forces and wider geographical areas.
The campaigns of MEHR are gathering
more and more momentum. I think the issue of discrimination against
Iranians is getting a bigger and bigger dimension and creating a voting block
is welcomed by the Iranians abroad and helping MEHR to create such a voting
block of Iranians in different countries can be the foundation from which
Iranians both inside and outside Iran can help the movement to replace IRI with
a democratic state inside Iran and to improve the status of Iranians abroad
against discriminations. .
Hoping for a strong voting block of
Iranians in different countries to oppose discriminations against Iranians
abroad and to work for a secular democratic republic in Iran.
Sam Ghandchi, Publisher
Oct 14, 2002
P.S. Please visit the website of MEHR at http://www.mehr.org