Rights, Politics, and Reality

Mrs. Ebadi’s human rights office was raided on December 21, and thanks to “US and European Pressure” it was re-opened on December 24.  Iranian people had nothing to do with it! 

Human rights office to re-open after US and European pressure”

When the office was sealed, Mrs. Ebadi said:

"Obviously such a move does not have a positive message for other rights activists in Iran, but my colleagues and I will fulfill our duties under any circumstances,"

I do not intend to be sarcastic, but if you apply the same political mindset to this news, it would read:

"Obviously such a move does not have a positive message for other rights activists in Iran, but my colleagues and I will welcome US and EU support under any circumstances,"

The question to ask is why the office of an Iranian Rights Activist is so important to US and EU to pressure Iran?

Let’s forget about the U.S. raiding an office in Iraq and arresting Iranian diplomats that did not bring about European pressure.  Let’s forget about many ordinary Iranians who were granted a visa for a class reunion, but when arrived in San Francisco, were sent to county jail.  Let’s forget about the U.S. raiding any place that is deemed suspicious –here in the U.S. or anywhere in the world through its paid agents— with or without a warrant.  Let’s just forget about these and many others where human rights apparently do not apply!  But just think about many ordinary Iranians who face capital punishment that is proper in my view, but is condemned by the very “human rights” Mrs. Ebadi claims to defend.  Where is the U.S. and European pressure to stop them?  But her office is reopened in just 3 short inconvenient days!

I have had heated discussions on this issue with readers of our group, some of which I was not given the permission to publish, but I do thank them all for their input.  While siding with people, entities, and governments or opposing them is the norm; such predisposition is neither intelligent nor productive no matter how educated the parties are.  We simply cannot judge issues depending on biased mindset that is complicated for the fact that two equally qualified and unbiased individuals may express two entirely different opinions on the same issue.

Having said that, here is my humble opinion of what might have happened.  IRI was somehow tipped leading to suspect some unusual activities at Mrs. Ebadi’s office.  So a raid was ordered, then her office was sealed.  Apparently nothing of significance was found or whatever it was contributed to some kind of a deal in the background between the US, EU and IRI.  Then Mrs. Ebadi was granted the permit to reopen her office.  And all Human Rights Activists are relieved, if not rejoiced waiting for the next pretext to fill the most colorful balloon of the so called Human Rights mantra with hot air.  No offence to true believers of humanitarian activities; ordinary --no name-- citizens as well as celebrities like Ezatollah Entezami, Parviz Parastooi, and many others who take the hard road of reaching out the families of a murder case for consolation and securing a pardon without propaganda.  That is how you bring people to a higher level of civil and cultural understanding, not by cheap propaganda and empty political statements.

Yes, NGOs like the ones Mrs. Ebadi operates do indeed engage in true charity and non-profit activities, but they must be closely scrutinized.  It is what the U.S. or any other country does routinely because they do know how easily such operations can serve as a cover up for activities harmful to the security of the nation.  This threat is multiplied for any country facing existential threat whether it is Iran or any other country in a hostile environment; but it is different for world powers.  

What we need to be cognizant of is rather obvious.  No spy would set up an office for an outright spying activity!  It is always and without exception covered with some form of legitimate activity.  The problem is not the right of the government to maintain security and stability.  It is the double standard played by world powers in which Israel is free to distort Iran’s statement for a pretext of discrediting a great nation for imperialistic agenda, but deny Iran’s right to defend itself.

Having discussed this issue with knowledgeable individuals, I took their words on face value in order NOT to turn our discussions into a futile bickering.  But I do not share the same views; i.e. what I understand from IRI constitution is entirely different than what Dr. Tohidi implied.  Administrative requirements, i.e. a permit for demonstration does not violate the constitutional right for socio-political gatherings.  This is a normal practice all over the world. 

Furthermore, a social or political gathering is different than a political, NGO, or any other business office.  So, I do not see a violation of the constitution when IRI required a permit for operating an office.  And yes, some permits are not granted for even minor problems.  Nonetheless, had Mrs. Ebadi made it an issue, it would have been used against IRI. 

But why do I keep going back and forth favoring such unfair propaganda against IRI?  First off, I would never do it in favor of a foreign country for our inalienable rights, i.e. the right to knowledge, science, peaceful nuclear energy, etc.  Then on internal issues, IRI faces two genuine opposing forces both of which are extreme.  One calls for total adherence to canonic law (Feqh) and the other is an idealistic version of secularism.  In my view neither one is practical.  However, what is applicable here is the fact that these two currents create a unique opportunity for a practical and moderate government on one hand and a battle field for power hungry groups on the other.  Given the unfortunate reality of special interests within and without, I would always favor a government under pressure to defend its actions. 

In other words, as long as the internal affair of the country is not subject to exploitation by foreign interests, the government is guilty until proven innocent!  That is the only way to curb its tremendous power no matter whether checks and balances do exist in the system or not.  Yet the government must also be recognized, and applauded on merit.  By the same token, political opposition could not be given a free ride.  Let them work hard to make a point.  They should NOT be exempt from the consequences of their own activities.  They should be treated like business people who suffer losses as much as they make gains.  People should feel sick and tired of any monotone voice for/against the government or its opposition no matter how relevant it maybe.  Issues and only issues must be discussed and debated.

In other words, we are to question an apparent violation of civil rights NOT to jump on the band wagon of political opposition to condemn the government without a fair trial.  Even criminal offenders are not automatically condemned when they are caught red handed.  And yes, new government officials cannot be condemned for the acts of their predecessors.  So let’s stop the childish condemnation of the government as a whole just because some of its officials violated human rights or its own constitution in the past.  By the same token, government cannot be trusted without verified checks and balances. 

Such a political view includes public satire mocking high public officials, and yes, its political opposition.  However, people who ridicule public figures –from either side-- could NOT be given the benefit of a doubt on their intentions.  Especially, when they move to a twilight zone where reality and entertainment are confused.  Yes, they do become power centers by propaganda to serve domestic and foreign special interests; intended or not.  Furthermore, there is a fundamental difference between third world countries and world powers.  We live in a time that even the free world is not as free as it used to be. 

We simply cannot afford mimic and copycat mantra in disguise of free speech to harm public confidence in government integrity as a whole on one hand and deny bona fide dissent on the other.  If I am to choose between bad and worst, I would definitely choose a controlled media by the government NOT by big corporations.

Let’s learn from the civil rights movement in America.  They kept pressing issues, and they still do.  They never fought for a regime change or to replace the constitution.  They sought legislative and executive orders and amendment to constitution, if necessary.  Yet, the rule of law is not enough either.  Blacks had no constitutional rights to begin with.  They were regarded as properties of their masters.  Civil rights activists were LEGALLY imprisoned. 

While people love making exception in favor of their idols against their perceived devils --that is why idols rise to power, and mostly change to devils!--, professional pirates eye public wealth for their private gains.  Nothing could be more revealing than the monumental financial crisis in the U.S. that had the domino effect all over the world. 

While you and I are talking human rights, they empty our retirement accounts legally!  Not only people’s representatives so outrageously hand over public funds to the ultra rich in disguise of greater good, but also crooks keep conspiring unbelievable schemes to hijack anything and everything.  I do not intend to subdue human rights in anyway, but I do want to call attention to devious intrigues where legitimate discussions divert public attention from intended crimes. 

As an analogy, it is like two individuals fight each other at a corner of the store.  When everyone’s attention is diverted to them, a shoplifter rubs the store!  Obviously, as long as the loss to the store owner is concerned it does not make any difference whether the two individuals conspired with the shoplifter or they had nothing to do with each other.  The loss is ultimately absorbed by the community in higher prices!  

However, that is not the end of the story because it must make a difference to the community as a whole.  All the branches of the government are supposed to protect its well being that includes taking into account incidental shoplifting.  But when the store is public, the manager, and the shoplifter, can and do conspire to rub the store.  They can take advantage of a real fight between two unsuspected individuals OR may hire professionals to show a phony fight, etc.  It can and does become more complicated when big guys do it to make little guys run out of business!  How do they fool the public?  Easy; they make the conspiracy theory complacent.  Concerned intelligentsia talk about it, but no one takes them seriously!

Now let’s rephrase the original question.  What was the reason for US and EU pressure?  


Mohamad Purqurian

December 27, 2008