By Ross Amin
September 9, 2017
One of the hardest things about being an Iranian within Iran or abroad is the knowing that you do not have a representative government of your own. In Iran, the regime pretends to speak for its people by calling itself a democracy and performing “elections.” However, anyone who understands Iran theocracy knows that these elections are not really democratic because all candidates have to first be approved by the regime’s unelected supreme leader. The person, Ali Khamenei, is known for his severe punishments and harsh interpretation of Islamic law. He oversees all aspects of Iranian regime and is responsible for approving or denying any potential candidate for positions of authority. That being said, for Iranians, their country is a dictatorship run by self appointed religious zealots than a democracy. Getting their voices heard inside Iran is therefore essentially impossible.
So what do Iranians do when their leaders express hateful views about other governments, infringe on the human rights of Iranian citizens, people abroad, and engage in wars that the Iranian people do not approve? They speak out against it as much as they are able, as they did in the 2009 post-election uprising.
Across Iran, demonstrations by laborers, women and the youth continue today, but are often suppressed quickly. With international community’s indulgence, the regime has thus far successfully suffocated an all out uprising. There seems little Iranians within Iran can do to make their voices heard amongst the corrupt and oppressive government.
The Iranian regime conducts itself without any consideration for the opinions of its people. Decades of this policy have resulted in a massive divide between what Iran regime is and what Iranians or Iran as a country actually represent. The oppressive, controversial, and violent regime has taken stances on human rights that resulted in Iran being the world’s leading per capita executioner of its citizens.
They detain dual nationals without just cause to use them as political pawns in their international dealings, they target and arrest citizens in their homes for having private gatherings, and their Islamic revolutionary guards (IRGC) serves as a “modesty police”, arresting women for dress choices considered inappropriate.
While Iranians must deal with such harsh treatment, Iranians abroad must deal with threats from those who group them as active participants in the repugnant acts of their oppressors. Iranians living outside Iran hence suffer the consequences of having as their country of origin, a country that espouses abysmal human rights record and history of terrorism. Hence Iranian people are targeted internationally and by the ruling regime.
On the other hand, the chatter about Iran becoming “more progressive” after Hassan Rouhani’s “re-election” as president and because of the nuclear deal with the U.S., is equally harmful for Iranians. In this environment, Iran’s ultra oppressive regime is astonishingly branded as progressive and granted international legitimacy. Such a paradigm in essence chokes democratic aspirations within Iran, putting the Iranian people in a difficult position, where their grievances against the regime are simply ignored. When Iran is touted as a pleasant tourist destination, or when Hassan Rouhani is named Time’s Person of the Year, it leads the Iranian people to feel that the international community does not take their rights seriously.
In reality, Iran is a complex country full of culture, history, and is full of people who have repeatedly rejected extremism in all its forms. This explains why over the past century, Iran has experienced 3 major secular uprisings.
Recently, Iran’s regime has supported Bashar Al-Assad in the Syrian civil war, and its military is responsible for violence against Sunnis in Iraq. These international acts of terror have been carried out without the consent of the Iranian people – once again affirming that Iranian regime’s ominous role on the world stage has nothing to do with the peaceful and tolerant majority of Iranians.
Whether Iran is being feared as a dangerous enemy or being considered a progressive global partner, Iranian regime behavior continues to have devastating consequences for the Iranian people. The Iranian people do not get to reap the benefits of a true democracy that responds to their concerns nor get the sympathy or understanding from the global community for their suffering.
Until the international community can properly treat the Iranians according to its deeds (a terrorist dictatorship that has stolen the control from its people), Iranians everywhere will unfortunately continue to dually suffer.