This letter is written by a well known film maker and human rights activist Ms. Lila Ghobady. Although it is about the hunger strike of Akbar Ganji I strongly believe it has much wider implications and deals with the so called "reform" movement and it's history. It's well worth reading.
An Open Letter to Noam Chomsky
Please think twice before going on a hunger strike!
Dear Mr. Chomsky,
As a human rights activist and a filmmaker who has made films documenting human rights violations of the oppressive Islamic dictatorship in Iran, I implore you to reconsider your support for, and participation in, the hunger strike which lead to support of Mousavi and the Reformist in Iran. Joining the hunger strike basically means supporting one part of an Iranian murderous regime against the other part. The so-called reformers are not committed to the human rights slogans they espouse. Instead, they are committed to obtaining for themselves the spoils of power that the hardliners now enjoy. Their goal is only limited to removing the Khamenei/Ahmdainejad band and installing the Rafsanjani mafia band in their stead.
The fact is that Rafsanjani/Mousavi and all other leaders of today’s so called reformist movement are yesterday’s killers. They are not fit to lead. Rather, they must first be brought to justice and go on trial for their involvement in the killing, torture and disappearance of thousands of innocent Iranian citizens who wanted nothing more than freedom and their basic civil rights. The imprisonment of reformists, such as Ganji, over the last few years and recent imprisonment of Hajarian does not lend any credibility to their movement. These detainments simply reflect a corrupt power struggle within a corrupt regime and have nothing to do for the fight for democracy. Hardliners and reformists are two sides of the same coin. They are like foxes in the henhouse, fighting over who will get to steal the eggs and eat the hens. It is ridiculous to suggest that either of them have the interests of Iranian citizens at heart.
The power struggle following the recent presidential [s]election has only one goal, to prevent and control a real grass-roots democratic movement by not letting it develop and by dissipating its energy in the illusion of reform. It is hard for Westerners, who take their freedoms for granted, to understand that the current reformist movement is a conspiracy in service of continued oppression; a tool of the Islamist regime designed to protect itself from a hungry and oppressed Iranian people, who might otherwise be able to develop a real reform movement that would replace the current corrupt regime.
Those who have planned the hunger strike at the UN have the blood of Iranians on their hands. They have been part of the current regime for years, including Ganji and Sazgara. Their only desire is to regain power for themselves, by deposing the Khamenei/Ahmdainejad thugs and replacing them with the Rafsanjani/Mousavi mafia. The hunger strike has nothing to do with the Iranian people’s fight for freedom. Rafsanjani, his family, and his mouthpiece Mousavi are inseparable from the appalling human rights abuses and economic corruption that stain Iran’s recent history. What were people like Ganji doing during the 80s to protect Iranian political prisoners? They controlled Iranian prisons and it would not have made sense for them to go on a hunger strike to protect prisoners while torturing prisoners as part of their day job!
We may live in an allegedly “reformist” era, but nothing has changed. Today people like Ganji still exist only to serve themselves and not the tortured and abused Iranian people.
Mr. Chomsky, before attending the hunger strike, please do your research. Don’t just take my word about the backgrounds of Mr. Ganji and his followers and their role in keeping the murderous Islamic regime in power and in killing thousands of innocent people over last 30 years – do your research. You might respond “yes, but people change”. To this I would say, “perhaps, but that is rarely the case with murderers, torturers and rapists”. Indeed, reformists in Iran do change tactics and they do give lip service to secularism and democracy. But they do these things without belief or conviction; they do it to increase their chances of obtaining and maintaining power. Of all people, you should know what crocodile tears are. Take Mr. Ganji as an example and read his manifesto where he still has claimed that Ayatollah Khomeini as his Imam (Ideal leader)! Yes Khomeini; a man known above all else for extremist despotism and murder.
In 1979, the Iranian people supported the revolution against the Shah dictatorship. Supporters of the revolution later hoped that an Islamist government would usher in respect for basic civil and democratic rights along with independence from foreign influences within Iran.
As history has proven, their hope that Islam and religion leaders could answer their cry for freedom, independence and basic rights was a disastrous illusion. When Ayatollah Khomeini obtained power, Iranians were cruelly deceived. A part of Iranian society tried to claim back their stolen revolution, in 1981, there was an uprising against the new self-proclaimed Islamic regime Thousands of students, political activists and ordinary Iranians demonstrated in the streets and chanted: “Down with Khomeini!”
What was their reward for claiming back what was rightfully theirs? The demonstrations were savagely put down. Thousands were massacred by the Revolutionary Guard and the Islamic regime militia, jailed, tortured in the most horrific ways. In one of Iran’s darkest summer of 1998 those who were jailed were executed on Khomeini’s direct order even though most had been jailed for years and were required by law to be freed after their terms had been served.
These thousands of Iran’s best sons and daughters where are they now? They lie forgotten in mostly unknown, mass graves.
Today’s “Reformists”: Mr. Ganji, and Hajarian were at the top of the Islamic regime and headed up the secret police in Iran. They worked hard to maintain the new Islamic dictatorship that gave them so much power, and their hard work, massacring and torturing their own people, succeeded in securing for them the power they wanted.
In the West, most people have never heard about the 1981 uprising and subsequent crackdown because news rarely made it out of Iran to the mainstream media, except through horror stories recounted by the millions of refugees who had managed to escape the murderous prison that Iran had become.
Even while they called the Iranian Islamic dictatorship a threat the world, Western governments supported the new regime because it was exactly what they needed to control the Iranian people and to have access to Iran’s oil wealth. It was a deal with the devil: Western governments supported the regime by supplying it with weapons and other means of oppression. In return, the Islamic regime ensured Western access to Iranian resources. Real democracy in Iran would not have served Western governments nearly so well. A free, secular society would put the West at risk of losing easy access to one of the largest supplies of oil in the world. In 1954, Americans supported a coup to prevent democracy in Iran from taking root. What is different now? A puppet, Islamic regime that guarantees access to Iranian resources is what Western governments wanted. It is what they continue to want.
No Western government has ever supported a true democratic uprising in Iran. They simply closed their eyes to human rights concerns, purchased the oil, sold the weapons and enjoyed the ride. Western leftists and intellectuals have been equally blind and complicit in human rights violations in Iran. They supported Khomeini’s regime simplistically, because they had the illusion it was anti-Imperialist!
Despite all that, over the last 30 years, many Iranians continued to fight against the Islamic regime and basic human rights, while the regime fought to prevent real change through a people’s movement that could have developed organically from within. After the regime had killed or suppressed all real opposition inside and outside Iran, it created a false opposition movement from within to create the impression that there was a real political discourse within the country, as a means to keep itself in power. Iranians suffered and continue to suffer enormously. In a country of great wealth, 70 percent of the people live in poverty while those at the top of the corrupt regime enjoy great riches that they deposit in European banks while creating alliances with European governments who support their agenda of exploitation.
As the power struggles within Iran continued, the so-called reformist Khatami came to power as president of Iran in 1997. Mohammad Khatami became the favourite of the Western media, because he spoke beautifully about freedom of speech, civil rights and dialogue between cultures. But in 1999 there was a crackdown on a student uprising; the same students who voted for him. Many were killed, many disappeared, and many were tortured. Artists, authors and intellectuals disappeared and were found “mysteriously” murdered. The smooth-talking president Khatami, whom westerners loved, never tried to stop the violence and never showed sympathy to his supporters. Instead, he openly avowed that his responsibility was to respect the wishes of the supreme Islamic leader, Ayotollah Khamenehi, and to protect the security of the Islamic regime.
To get a sense of who Khatami the “reformist” really is, consider this: the Monster, Mohammad Lajevardi, who was in control of Evin prison was personally responsible for raping many teenage girls who were imprisoned in 1980. These rapes were carried out one night before their execution. Why? Because Islamic myth has it that virgins go to heaven. To prevent these innocent young women from going to heaven, Iranian religious leaders authorized the rapes! This man who carried out the rapes was eventually shot dead. Khatami (the “reformist”) publicly mourned the death of this monster rapist, whom he described as a “brave son of the revolution”!
Today’s so-called “reformists” are part of the Islamic regime who had better deals with Western companies and who wanted to profit from the capitalist/liberal system, in opposition to the hardliners, who wanted to be in charge themselves and to maintain their power game in the region and throughout the world. But this entire power struggle between two corrupted sides of the same regime has nothing to do with the majority of hungry and oppressed Iranian people fight for freedom from the whole corrupted system of oppression inside Iran which is the Islamic regime.
Western supporters of the reformist movement deliberately refuse to acknowledge that the Islamic regime itself brought Khatami to power to create the illusion of change, in order to prevent real reform. But Khatami’s record is proof of who he really is. After eight years as president of Iran, there was no improvement at all in the civil rights and economic freedoms of Iranian citizens. The only success of Khatami’s presidency was to sabotage the grass roots movement for change and to keep the oppressive Islamic dictatorship in power for another 12 years.
Over last few weeks, we have seen another uprising of Iranian citizens. For whom that supported the bad that is Mousavi’s party against what they perceived to be a worse option – the current hard-line dictatorship headed by Ahmedinejad, [s]election day proved to be nothing more than a power struggle between hardliners and reformists, with the reformists seeking to get back in power to re-gain control of the country’s resources, especially for the Rafsanjani mafia family. The reformists’ agenda was supported by western governments and media, who, deliberately or through ignorance, misrepresented the reformists as supporters of an uprising toward real democracy and real change. However, Rafsanjani/Mousavi and their so called Reformist movement have no credibility as democrats and defenders of the Iranian people.
The fact is that both Western governments and the Iranian regime do not want real change, because it would jeopardize their cozy economic arrangements that serve their interests at the expense of the Iranian people. They are frightened that they might lose their ability to control Iran’s resources for their own benefit if a real movement for democracy and civil rights gains control of the country.
Reformist leaders make sure that western governments have every reason to support them. Recently released documents and information prove that the CIA and most European secret services supported the so-called reformist movement in one way or another. In fact bringing news out to mainstream media and capturing the world’s attention with evidence of the brutality of the Islamic regime for the first time in 30 years was part of their agenda to support the so-called reformists, and put them back in power, because they would be more western-friendly than the hardliners and that has nothing to do with the ongoing human rights violation in Iran, which was deliberately ignored by western governments/media over the past 30 years and specifically during 1981 and 1999 people and student uprising.
As a well-known, independent thinker and promoter of human rights, your participation will effectively lend credence and legitimacy to those, such as Rafsanjani/Mousavi, who have participated directly in the arrest, torture, murder and disappearance of thousands of brave freedom loving Iranian and human rights activists over last 30 years.
I would have thought that of all people, you would support true independence for Iranians and freedom from continued western economic imperialism in the Middle East. I had always thought you would take the side of the people against puppet regimes, and that you would have recognized that the reformist movement in Iran is just a different mask on the same puppet.
Mr. Chomsky, I hope you will take some time to look clearly at the reality in Iran, a reality that is far more complex than what the western media reports. I hope you will learn to recognize that those reformists who shout about democracy and human rights do so for their own purposes and to ensure continued support from the international community they have duped. Verify for yourself the dark, bloody history of today’s reformist leaders and their link to the economic imperialism of American foreign policy in Iran.
Mr. Chomsky, please consider the fact that the current reformist movement began from the middle class urban city populations. It was not supported by a majority of Iranians, and especially by workers. By comparison, the 1979 revolution and the 1981 uprising were grass roots movements for freedom and independence. Why? Even though the Iranian people are fed up with the corrupt Islamic dictatorship, they know that the so-called reformist movement is in fact part of the current regime, inseparable from it. Workers, teachers and the poorest in society know that no matter who leads an Islamic government presided over by religious leaders, their country will be governed by the most corrupt and dangerous economic mafia in the Middle East, backed up by corrupt foreign policies of its western allies.
As one who has lived in Iran and seen the suffering that today so called “reformists” (formers hardliners) inflict on the Iranian people, I implore you;
Please support the poor, hungry people with no international voice who make up 70% of the population of Iran instead of taking part in a hunger strike, organized by well fed, rich, criminal and corrupt supporters of one part of the same regime, who are the real cause of poverty, hunger, brutality and human rights violations in my motherland.
Please support Iranian people independent fight for a free, secular independent democratic Iran and do not support those who would kill and oppress us.
Lila Ghobady is an exiled Iranian writer-journalist and filmmaker. She has been involved with human rights since working as a journalist in Iran at the age of 17 and continued her work in Canada when she arrived as a refugee in 2002. She worked as a Producer and Associate Director of internationally-praised underground films alongside fellow exiled filmmaker Moslem Mansouri before leaving Iran. As a journalist, she received the title of BlogHer of the Week for her Review piece on Slumdog Millionaire in March 2009. Lila received her Master’s Degree in Women’s Studies from Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. For more information, please read her blog at: www.banoufilm.blogspot.com. Lila can be contacted by e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org.