Just as the former USSR’s self-preserving reforms failed both in introducing genuine reforms and, ultimately, in preserving the communist regime, the Islamic theocracy’s attempts at reform are following a similar doomed path. The regime has totally failed to deliver on its promises made by Mr. Khatami in 1997.
These reforms were drawn in early 1995 in The Bureau of Strategic Studies affiliated to the Islamic Ministry of Information. Their purpose was, as stated at the time by one of the regime's reformists named Mr. Abbas Abdi (before he himself became a victim of the theocracy), "to defuse a wide scale revolution in the future.”
History had indicated these attempts at self-preserving reforms are destined to fail, as was pointed out by our organization since inception. Now, after 24 years of theocratic tyranny and 7 years of sham reforms, disillusionment and feelings of having been used and duped have engulfed the Iranian nation. The people are out in the streets asking for an end to theocracy in its totality and entirety, irrespective of which faction is in power.
Although it is a welcome sign that a number of members of the Islamic Majlis signed a letter to Mr. Khamenei demanding a genuinely free press and elections, we believe this is a further evidence of disillusionment engulfing every facet of the theocracy. The time has come for the regime's so-called reformist faction and especially the MPs in Majlis to live up to their promises and resign, en masse, and join all the liberty loving Iranian people in demanding a national referendum.
No longer can we be swayed by mere eloquent speeches; we need to see concrete results. We urge the reformists and MPs to join the inevitable triumph of democracy by joining the people in demanding a national referendum monitored by the UN.
Since inception, our goal at "Student Movement Coordination Committee for Democracy in Iran" (SMCCDI) has always been to promote human rights, democracy and free markets in Iran. We believe these principals not only will lead to a higher quality of life for the Iranian people, but also will help promote the cause of peace in the Middle East and throughout the world.
Specifically, our objective at the "Student Movement Coordination Committee for Democracy in Iran" (SMCCDI) is to help create an environment for all Iranians regardless of ethnicity, religion, ideology or gender to be able to pursue their dreams to their god given talents and determination - based on the ideals of peace, democracy and free markets. By being free to pursue their dreams, the Iranian people will once again realize our country’s historical greatness, and contribute to the world’s peace and prosperity.
We believe the history of mankind is marked by a progressive political and economic liberal trend. As each century has unfolded, respect for the rights of individuals has increased, as has their right to a better living standard. Today, more people live under some form of democracy and/or free markets than ever before. Unfortunately, our country, along with some others, has been left out of this progressive evolution because we have failed to embrace the underlying ideals behind this evolution.
History has, undoubtedly, shown human rights, democracy and free markets to be the most fair and efficient means for humanity to realize its potential. Theocracy, just like communism and fascism, belongs in the ash heap of history. Ultimately, no repressive, intolerant regime or ideology can withstand the spread of these ideals. Iran’s theocracy is no exception. Our triumph is absolutely, positively and undeniably inevitable.
Our confidence in the inevitable victory of these three principals derives not from our naivety, idealism or dislike of the theocracy, but rather from these ideals’ innate ability in bringing out the best of humanity. They are simply a more productive and fair way of governing a society.
Virtually every major technological, scientific, medical, etc… discovery has come from democratic countries. This, of course, is no coincidence. These advancements are made possible because democracies guarantee their citizens certain rights under the law and have the relevant institutions to protect these rights. That is also why their living standards are so much higher than ours.
We need similar rights and institutions in Iran.
These three ideals enable individuals to pursue their dreams far more effectively than any other ideology. And it is this pursuit of dreams that is the original inspiration of every great accomplishment mankind has ever known, such as electricity, telephone, flight, computer, space exploration, etc…
Consider America, for example. Its economic wealth and technological military prowess are nothing but a byproduct of its real strength: the ideals set forth in its Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Bill of Rights.
Because of these ideals an immigrant like Mr. Andy Grove, fleeing intolerance and persecution in his homeland, can come to America and help build one of the world’s largest and most successful technology companies – Intel – and in the process make America technologically more advanced, militarily more powerful and economically wealthier. Here we see a direct connection between human rights, democracy and free markets and a nation’s prosperity and military prowess. There are hundreds of thousands of other foreign-born computer programmers, engineers, scientists, professors, doctors and business executives, including thousands of Iranian origin, who also are vital in maintaining America’s technological superiority.
The more people are empowered to pursue their dreams, the greater, wealthier and more powerful a country can become.
In addition to the objectives listed below, our most paramount goal is the establishment of human rights as the primary principal governing the Iranian government and society. (Please see the SMCCDI's Declaration).
The Separation of Religion and State:
History has shown the mixture of religion and politics is a deadly combination, regardless of epoch, society or the religion involved. We are not blaming Islam as some of us are devout Muslims, but rather simply the mixture of religion and politics.
We seek the separation of religion and state and the establishment of a secular government.
The Separation of Powers:
The Islamic republic has clearly demonstrated the undesirability of unrestricted, unaccountable power. Power centralized in the hands of one or a few and without accountability or checks and balances is a recipe for dictatorship.
As such, the executive, judiciary and legislative branches of the government need to be independent of each other in order to check and balance each other’s powers.
A Decentralized Government:
The overbearing hand of the central government needs to be strictly regulated. More political and economic authority needs to reside with the local, city and regional provinces. Without compromising Iran’s territorial integrity, the elected local authorities should be given more rights to settle their own affairs.
A decentralized system is best suited for our country, as the Iranian people have been living together as one people for almost 3 thousand years. They are not newly formed states trying to form a federation or a union.
The central government in Tehran has the exclusive authority to maintain a standing army, conduct foreign policy, regulate the nation’s financial markets, and to ensure the proper functioning of the welfare system.
Maintaining Our Territorial Integrity:
The territorial integrity of our country needs to be maintained.
What unites us Iranians is more than a particular religion or langue; it is our love and devotion to our country and our pride in its contributions to human civilization. Contributions that were made by all its ethnic groups. Turkish Safavids are as important to our history as Persian Achaemenians or Sasanians.
All ethnic groups in Iran are Iranian citizens and together they all form an inseparable mosaic that has endured for almost 3,000 years with a common history.
In addition, no parcel of our international borders, provinces, territories, islands, water ways, and underground or undersea resource rights, as it existed prior to 1979, can be split or changed in favor of another nation’s sovereignty.
Free Markets & WTO:
Why have we failed to become a rich, industrialized country, despite our abundant natural resources? Maybe the answer is self-evident. As a nation, we have focused too much on tapping what lays underneath the ground, rather than in the minds and hearts of our people. The quest for oil has led to foreign manipulation and interference. Even worse, oil has functioned as an easy and independent source of income for the governmental authorities, making them indifferent and insensitive to the economic plight of the people.
Creation of wealth from natural resources relies on political connections and, hence, is far more likely to lead to corruption than when a society has no other option but to organize the creative resources of its people. The latter requires an appropriate legal framework and institutions, whereas the former mostly relies on who one knows.
That is why other countries rich in natural resources have also fallen into the same trap. Not one member of OPEC has a viable non-petroleum based economy. In much the same way, Argentina, boasting so many natural resources, today has almost the same income per capita as it did 100 years ago. Conversely, countries that prospered such as Taiwan, South Korea and Hong Kong did so without being "blessed" with abundant natural resources.
Realizing that they had nothing to offer the world but the skills of their people, these countries focused on low-end, labor-intensive industries for exports to create jobs for their people (since they had no domestic market per say to sell to). They, subsequently, moved up the food chain and increasingly engaged in more sophisticated industries. Jobs were their first and foremost priority. Similarly, creating jobs should be our country’s number one economic policy. We have much to learn form the dynamic economies of these three countries.
The foundation of their economic miracle was based on an appropriate legal framework. With the theocracy’s arbitrary decision making, compounded by its corrupt and inefficient bureaucracy, no wonder entrepreneurs have no incentives to take risks and create jobs for the people. Its so-called foundations have a monopoly on a number of vital industries and are not accountable to public in any form. There is no transparency. To encourage private investment in the economy, we must first protect the rights of both the investors and workers against the overbearing hand of the government.
Private property must be protected to provide the right set of incentives for risk taking in order to create jobs for the people. Central to this objective is international trade. We need to engage the world economy and join the World Trade Organization.
Cooperation with the International Community:
We seek peace with our neighbors, in our region and around the globe. Short of the presence of clear and imminent danger to the Iranian people or vital national security, we do not believe the use of force is a viable option in addressing international disputes. We do not condone terrorism in any shape or form – whether state or organization sponsored. The ends never justify the means for either side. We do not believe in destabilizing or interfering with the domestic affairs of our neighbors. We do not seek to export any ideologies to them.
We will continue our non-violent, peaceful resistance against Iran’s theocracy with or without the free world’s assistance. However, we think supporting our peaceful, democratic movement would serve the interests of all peace loving people. We are not naïve or idealistic as to think countries follow any policy but their self-interest. We are clearly aware of the realpolitic nature of international diplomacy. After all, America supported Saddam Hussein in the Iran-Iraq war and only reluctantly acknowledged his use of chemical weapons against our soldiers.
Nonetheless, the Iranian people and the free world’s interests are one – the elimination of Iran’s theocracy and the establishment of a genuinely democratic regime. The most effective way the outside world can help the democratic movement in Iran is by publicizing the Iranian people’s grievances and their yearning and struggles for freedom. The world’s media needs to focus on our peaceful resistance to establish basic human rights. TV coverage, not bullets and tanks, will end Iran’s theocracy and bring democracy and tolerance to the Middle East.
The free world’s policies toward Iran should not be dictated by its concerns over nuclear inspections, support for terrorism or the undermining of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. This is a very shortsighted policy. Rather, it should focus on helping us establish our rights in Iran. Democracies do not fight each other; they resolve their differences peacefully. In a democratic Iran, the people may even elect not to pursue nuclear weapons at all, like the South African people did after apartheid was defeated.
Developing nuclear weapons places a considerable financial burden on Iran’s weak economy. If the Iranian people feel secure enough, they may choose to divert those funds that would otherwise go to develop nuclear weapons for health and education. The Iranian people may decide to follow the path of nuclear weapons free prosperity like Japan and Germany, rather than nuclear poverty like North Korea or Pakistan
Second, history reveals that containing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction may be a futile effort. The West may be able to slow this process, but may not be able to stop it, especially if a nation is willing and determined. More and more countries either have developed nuclear weapons or have the knowledge to do so. The West will be much safer if a nuclear-armed Iran had a peaceful and democratic government responsible and accountable to its people, rather than a theocracy with a history of terrorist activities.
Third, a democratic Iran would showcase the utter failure of Islamic fundamentalism as a political and economic ideology to the larger Islamic world. By watching interviews with Iranian students, Arab, Pakistani and Turkish students would not be deceived as easily by the false promises of Islamic fundamentalism with its intolerant ideology that encourages terrorism. Our stories and experiences could be of considerable help to all the secular and democratic groups in Iraq.
Finally, in much the same way that Iran's Islamic revolution galvanized the fundamentalists across the Islamic world over 24 years ago, our successful embrace of democracy will embolden democracy-seeking moderates across the region and help to reconcile the differences that exist between the Islamic world and the West.
We urge the European nations to cease engaging the theocracy and, thereby, prolonging its collapse and bestowing it with the appearance of international legitimacy. Your financial transactions are being consummated at the expense of the Iranian peoples’ liberty and financial opportunity. Do not invest in a regime whose collapse is inevitable. Invest in the people of Iran and democracy. In any case, a democratic Iran plugged into the international marketplace will offer you far more financial opportunities through fair and equitable trade and investments than the theocracy ever did or could.
Achieveing Our Goals:
We intend to achieve our objectives by helping organize a coalition of forces who share a common belief in a secular government, nonviolent resistance, respect for human rights, democracy and free markets:
Increase of Nonviolent & Civil Disobeidance Resistance:
We categorically and wholeheartedly reject violence! Even if provoked, we will not condone violence of any kind whatsoever. No more bloodshed. No more "the ends justify the means." The vicious cycle of hatred and revenge killings that has plagued our country must be brought to an end.
We must refrain form vilifying and dehumanizing our opponents, no matter what brutal tactics they may resort to. Democracy is not built on top of skeletons, rather on tolerance and inclusion. We must not shout “Death to Khamenai” or throw cocktail Malotofs. Such tactics only provide an excuse for the regime to resort to brutal tactics.
Too many times in our history, the victors tried to eradicate the memory of the vanquished or paint them in a negative light, such as the Sasanians did with the destruction of the palaces and cultural artifacts of the Parthians. It is the loss of all Iranian people that today we do not have more artifacts from the Parthians’ over 400 years reign.
Let us think about how the future generations will judge us. History is on the side of nonviolence. A study of the countries that have successfully evolved from dictatorships into democracies in the past 30 years indicates that non-violence is the prudent path.
For example, the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, peacefully gave up power in Mexico to a democratically elected government in 2000, after twelve years of political liberalization under the PRI leadership itself - starting with the election of Carlos Salinas in 1988. Salinas’ initial reforms were intended to preserve the PRI’s power, not to bring democracy to the Mexican people. It was the spread of disillusionment among the highest echelons of power within the PRI leadership itself that led to these reforms.
However, as in most other instances, reforms led to demand for further reforms. Embarking upon the path of self-preserving reforms is a slippery slope that has caused the disintegration of every dictatorship that has set on that course. Semi-democracies, for the most part, are unstable and unsustainable; they must eventually lead to fully-fledged democracies or degenerate back into complete dictatorships.
With the exception of China that regressed backward after the bloody crackdown on our Chinese colleagues in the "Tian'an Men Square" in 1989, and abandoned all its political reforms and focused exclusively on economic initiatives, virtually all other countries set on the path of self-preserving reforms evolved into democracies. South Africa abandoned its vile, racist regime and joined the democratic camp without bloodshed through the initial reforms of white Presidents P.W. Botha and F.W. de Klerk. And, most important, Mikhail Gorbachev’s perestroika was the liberalization initiative that led to the collapse of the communist bloc without armed conflict. There are a number of other examples, such as: Greece, Portugal, Spain, Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, Chile, Nicaragua, South Korea, Taiwan and a number of Eastern European countries. Democracy was seldom attained through a bloody revolution or military coup d'état.
The Need for a Provisional Government:
As the theocracy is losing its legitimacy by the day, the vast majority of its once core constituency have and, increasingly, will discover the futility of supporting this doomed regime. They are realizing the triumph of democracy is inevitable. Furthermore, such groups have no wish to shed the blood of their innocent, peaceful countrymen, whose only whish is freedom and opportunity.
We say to such groups: you do not have to fear the inevitable. To help bring about a peaceful transition to democracy, we look to the South African model as a guide. Mr. Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu helped save thousands of lives and expedited the demise of apartheid by their tolerance and compassion.
Similarly, we favor the creation of a National Commission for Reconciliation. In return for your complete cooperation and transparency to help uncover the truth, crimes committed for the past 24 years, illegal economic transactions and concessions, etc… all with the intention of preventing the reoccurrence of such atrocities, we believe giving amnesty to the members of the theocracy.
There should be no trials or punishments for those who participate in National Commission for Reconciliation. Overlooking and forgiving the crimes of certain individuals is a price well worth paying to ensure a peaceful transition to democracy. Creating a democratic society is much more important for the interests of our people, than obtaining justice, even if justice could be achieved. Our children will appreciate our wisdom and ability to restrain our naked hatred and thirst for revenge.
We urge such groups to immediately cease your support for the theocracy and join all freedom-loving Iranians in demanding a referendum. Coordinate your activities with the secular opposition groups to help bring about an orderly and peaceful transitional government to oversee a national referendum monitored by the UN. Don’t delay.
Don’t let the unrest get further radicalized and spiral out of control, turning into a bloody revolution and causing countless unnecessary deaths, including possibly your own.
UN Monitored National Referendum:
We believe that the vast majority of the Iranian people have become utterly disillusioned by both the conservatives and the failure of the so-called reformers. The Iranian people now demand a radical change and no more simple, aesthetic changes within the current regime.
We seek a national referendum to judge the legitimacy of this regime. We believe the separation of religion and state is most paramount and, as such, advocate for a secular government, but, of course, we will respect the will of the Iranian people whatever their choice may be, even if that is an Islamic Republic. The Iranian people can only determine their own future.
To ensure the legitimacy of this referendum, it needs to be monitored by the UN and other relevant international organizations.
Regardless of the type of constitution, form of government, or political parties, the rights set forth in the declaration of human rights are independent of and supercede the authority of the government and political parties. The temptation to lever the strings of the state to favor the incumbent groups must be curtailed. The government’s authority and legitimacy is based upon its recognition of, respect for and abidance by these individual rights. The government forfeits its authority and is no longer considered legitimate if it infringes upon these rights. These rights are non-negotiable.
In summary, our goal at SMCCDI is to help create an environment for all Iranians regardless of ethnicity, religion, ideology or gender to be able to pursue their dreams to their god given talents and determination - based on the ideals of human rights, democracy and free markets. It was no accident that during one of the greatest periods in our history – the reigns of Cyrus and Darius the Great – we also had an exceptionally tolerant civilization, certainly compared to what the rest of the world had at the time.
By being free to pursue their dreams, the Iranian people will once again realize our country’s historical greatness, and contribute to the world’s peace and prosperity.
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