Are We Still Waiting for United Nations?

Sam Ghandchi


Persian Version


I read somewhere that the saying "God helps those who help themselves", is not a biblical writing, which is commonly believed to be, and is from the pagan Greek mythology in a story in Aesop's Fables, where it is quoted as the words of Hercules to a Wagoner, when saying "The gods help them that help themselves".  The story goes as follows:


"A Wagoner was once driving a heavy load along a very muddy way. He came to a part of the road where the wheels sank half-way into the mire, and the more the horses pulled, the deeper sank the wheels.  So the Wagoner threw down his whip, and knelt down and prayed to Hercules the Strong. 'O Hercules, help me in this my hour of distress." But Hercules appeared to him, and said: 'Man, don't sprawl there. Get up and put your shoulder to the wheel. The gods help them that help themselves."*


Reading the above story, I thought of the many letters that I had sent to United Nations about the violations of human rights by Islamic Republic of Iran over the last 25 years, and wondered if this is all that we Iranians could do about this situation.  I remembered the first letter sent out for freedom of Saidi Sirjani from IRI prison, written by a group of Iranians that had just started an Internet-based human rights organization called IHRWG over ten years ago in 1994. 


And I remembered the first horrible update we had, a few days later, when we received the news of murder of Saidi-Sirjani by Islamic Republic of Iran.  Of course it took years before we found out the whole story of the murder, which was done by Saeed Emami team of IRI Intelligence Ministry, who slaughtered the Forouhars years later.


Today all Iranians have come to the conclusion that we need a referendum under the UN supervision, to end the Islamic Republic, and to establish a new Constitution for Iran, and many different individuals and groups have sent letters to Kofi Annan requesting that UN to take action, and organize such a referendum.


But, we are not hearing back from UN,  just like all these years that we sent letters about Saidi Sirjani and other victims of IRI.  Even the UN human rights commission has stopped condemning IRI in the cases of arrests of journalists and political activists, etc.  We all know about the case of Zahra Kazemi, the Canadian-Iranian journalist, and how she was murdered in Iran by an Islamic Republic judge, who is still on the job, torturing political prisoners in Iran.


Now I do not want to blame the United Nations.  True, that I do not think the current structure of UN is adequate to handle the world issues that such an organization has to handle, in a world where globalization is heading in all directions, but my point here is not about that topic.  Even similar situations of South Africa and Soviet Union and the role UN played in those cases, cannot be applied to Iran, and I do not blame UN for it.  Please let me explain more.


I think the issue is partly because of the way Iranian opposition to IRI has formed, for which I do not even blame ourselves, but the Iranian situation needs a novel solution rather than the way cases like South Africa were handled.  What do I mean?


Contrary to South African opposition, who asked for sanctions of South Africa, even when Mandela was freed, the majority of Iranian opposition and people do not like sanctions, and think it hurts the people, and does not affect the Islamic Republic of Iran.  Whether this perception is correct or not, the end result means that UN cannot levy anything that questions the right of IRI in ruling Iran.  Why?


How can we expect UN to call for a referendum to change regime in Iran, when we want them not even put a sanction on IRI.  It is true that in our minds, it may seem like not wanting sanctions on IRI, does not mean that we want IRI to stay in power, but this is not how such a stand is understood in international politics.


Let me note that by writing the above, I am not saying that we should call for sanctions on Iran and I have explained my view about sanctions in another article and do not need to repeat here.


Basically I believe *removing* US sanctions should *not* be unconditional and should be *conditioned* on human rights.  But conditions for asking to levy sanctions is different from conditions to remove existing sanctions. I do *not* think calling for sanctions in the current mindset of Iranians and Iranian movement in this regard, is an appropriate action, and my writing of the above is *not* to recommend such action.


My point is that I do not think the way South Africa developed, or Soviet Union, or even Cambodia can be extended to Iran, and in the current status of the situation, where even the U.S. is seeking cooperation of IRI to fight the Wahhabi Sunni opponents, in Iraq and elsewhere in the Arab world, unfortunately I doubt it, if we could expect much from the West to help with the referendum for regime change in Iran. 


Therefore, I think we need to change the situation which I explain below.


The Iranian opposition does not seek attack of IRI by any adversary state.  Also when we are not even asking UN to boycott IRI, we cannot expect them to help to remove IRI.  So we cannot hope for UN in this condition to set up a fund to help the Iranian opposition.


Nonetheless we need to take an active role in organizing the people for referendum, and since the Iraq or Afghan model of attacking the current state of Iran is rejected by us, and also because the South African model of UN sanctions and and Soviet model of Western boycotts are also rejected by us, we ourselves need to set up a fund to help ourselves.  Of course, once we have enough strength, we can seek help from UN and others in our terms, but surely not in the current situation we cannot expect much from them.


I think the Iranian opposition should form a group of ten to twenty people who are trusted by the people to head an Iranian Fund for Referendum and Regime Change and the fund should collect money from individuals and corporate entities, Iranian and non-Iranian, to help the various entities that are active in organizing the movement for referendum in Iran and abroad.  The same way we were able to form funds reactively for Earthquake victims, we should be proactive  for the new development of Iran and make a fund to finance the change regime in Iran to what we want.


Currently there are many individuals, groups, and journals that are actively working on various projects to organize the referendum for regime change in Iran and most of them are on the borderline of dropping out because they do not have the financial means to continue, and they do not want to get support from foreign entities and there is no UN fund to help Iranian opposition and secular forces do not have income sources like khoms va zakAt (i.e. Islamic taxes that are used by Islamists).


I think once we create the above fund and get busy professionally organizing the movement for the referendum, then we can expect the UN and other international bodies to respond to the rightful aspirations of Iranians and Iranian pro-democracy activists for organizing the referendum to change the regime in Iran. 


Otherwise, I do not think our letters to Kofi Annan will make a dent in the status quo of UN-IRI relations, especially when even the U.S., under Bush,  is easing sanctions on IRI, and is lifting sanctions on Libya.


Hoping for a Futurist,  Federal, Democratic, and Secular Republic in Iran,


Sam Ghandchi, Editor/Publisher


April 21, 2004








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