Sunday, March 06, 2005

565 Iranian Dissidents: Incompetent Rulers Driving the Nation to the Abyss

Safa Haeri, Iran Press Service:
In an unprecedented open letter to the ruling clerical leaders, more than five hundred Iranian scholars, intellectuals, journalists, students, artists and politicians have denounced the “incompetence” of the present clerical-led leadership and warned that only bowing to the principles of a real democracy can save the country and nation from total collapse.

Observers say this is the first time that so many dissidents of all categories have joined in writing such a letter, produced on the occasion of the forthcoming presidential elections, due next June.

This is a very interesting event that for sure, would open more the sad and unhealthy political atmosphere that the present establishment has deliberately created”, commented Mr. Qasem Sho’leh Sa’di, a veteran political dissident.

The signatories, most of them well known activists, have dressed a black picture of the regime’s achievements in the past 25 years, reaching the conclusion that the record of the “appointed and selected officials” in charge of the nation is “negative” in all political, economic, cultural and social fields “to the point that the nation’s independence, unity, coexistence and future are in serious danger. read more

The less critical points of the letter have been published in some of the few remaining Iranian independent media, including “Sharq” newspaper on Thursday.

We, the signatories of this letter, have reached the conclusion that the appointed and selected leadership, impotent and incapable of discerning and defending the nation’s interests and unable to solve domestic problems, has not the authority, credibility and competence of governing the country, the petition accuses.

Based on some official statistics, the signatories also hints at the “critical conditions and situation” of the nation, particularly in political, economic, cultural and social fields to conclude that the establishment has been “both incapable and impotent” in the defining, recognising and defending” Iran’s national interests in face of threats coming from outside.

Not only the officials in charge have failed to protect the nation’s interests, they also failed to solve Iranian people’s basic problems and difficulties. This is enough to prove their incompetence in leading the country, the signatories said, adding that the low participation of voters in the city council and Majles elections shows that the people have no desire of going to the polls in the coming presidential race.

The Office for the Consolidation of Unity (OCU), the Iranian students largest organisation, the Popular Front, the Iranian People Party (IPP) of the late Dariush Forouhar, the Iranian National Party (INP), some nationalist-religious movements as well as hundreds of well-known personalities have signed the petition.

It is interesting that not only there are some bazaris and businessmen among the signatories, but all of them have indicated their addresses as well, Mr. Sho’leh Sa’di noted, adding that the demands formulated by the petition is in the following of the reform project.

He was referring to the proposal, advanced by several dissidents both republicans and monarchists, for a referendum to be organised under the auspices of international observers allowing the Iranian people to freely chose their desired regime.

Pointing to the records of President Khatami’s eight years presidency, the signatories insist that under present circumstances and political system, the next president, “even if elected with a huge popular vote and backed by an elected parliament, would not be more than a figurehead, or a coordinator for the unelected organs”.

Considering the incompetence and weakness of the leadership in the one hand and the people’s apathy and unwillingness to go to the polls, as seen from the last city council and the seventh Majles elections on the other, the tangible fact is that under such conditions and circumstances, one can not walk towards a real democracy, the rule of the law, the separation of the three powers, the power of the people and a genuine republic”, the authors said.

They were referring to outgoing President Mohammad Khatami who, despite landslide votes in 1997 and 2001 elections, was not able to implement any of the limited political, social and cultural reforms he had promised to the Iranian people.

Under present Iranian political system, all powers are concentrated in the hands of a cleric who, as an absolute leader representing the God on earth, not only stands above all laws and has the final word on every issue, being religious, political, social, cultural, economical, military or international, but also has direct control on all three Judicial, Legislative and Executive branches of the regime as well as the public media, armed forces, police and security services.

This is the first time in the past 25 years that so many Iranians of different political schools joins hands in signing a petition based on clear cut principles of the Universal Charter of Human Rights, defence of democracy and freedoms, the Charter of the United Nations and the laws of the republic”, observed Mr. Ali Keshtgar, an Iranian dissident living in Paris.

The signatories are of the view that the only sure way out of the present dramatic and dangerous situation is that an elected leadership bows to the will of the people for both governing the nation and its international relations and like other advanced nations of the world, place the interests of the nation and the people on the respect and obey the principles of the Universal Charter of Human Rights, the Charter of the United Nations”, the petition insists.

The publication of the petition shows that the rulers have failed in their attempt at discouraging the people by propagating the wrong image that the dissidents and activists have deserted the political arena”, said Mr. Keshtgar, adding that the letter shows that contrary to the ruler’s expectations, the Iranian, more than ever before, are determined to go ahead with their long struggle for freedom and democracy”.
The courage of these 500 individuals proves that the Iranian people have leaders ready to take on the hard decisions needed to lead their nation into real democracy and freedom. We must support their efforts.