Please find below the text of my speech at the Iran Democratic Transition Conference in Washington DC as well as the video of my speech.
The Islamic Regime Constitution: Reform v. Regime Change
Hello Everyone. It is a great pleasure to be here today and to speak to you about a topic that is very important to me, Regime Change in Iran.
The theme of this conference is a democratic transition in Iran and a hot topic, not only in this conference, but generally in the Iranian Diaspora is the question of reform versus Regime change.
I have been major advocate of complete and total Regime change in Iran, because I don’t believe a dictatorship regime that has been involved in the systematic oppression of its people for the past 31 years is worthy or capable of reform.
When discussing the issue of reform versus Regime change the most important piece of law we have to look at is the Islamic Regime’s constitution. Is there any possibility of reforming the current constitution in order to make it compatible with fundamental concepts such as human rights, democracy and secularism?
The permeable of the Islamic Regime Constitution states: “The Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran sets forth the cultural, social, political and economic institutions of the people of Iran, based on Islamic principles and rules and reflecting the fundamental desires of the Islamic people.”
From the onset the Constitution defines itself as “Islamic” as it relates to the “Islamic People.” When the very basic root of the constitution is based on Islam it leaves no room for the concept of secularism, and the separation of religion from state. An Islamic constitution, even with reforms can never become secular, because the root of it is based in religion. The constitution also does not take into consideration the “non-Islamic” people, the Jews, Christians, Zorostarians, Bahai’s, Agnostic and Atheists who also live in the Iranian society and must be given the same rights and consideration regardless of their religious beliefs.
Women in the Constitution:
Women who make up about 50% of the Iranian population are given one dominant role in the constitution: Motherhood. The goal of the Islamic Regime for the past 31 years has been segregating women in the work force, schools and universities, public transportation, sports arenas and even at the beach, trying very hard to remove them from the society and put them back in the home as mothers and homemakers.
Fortunately the Regime has not been successful because Iranian women have fought back, tooth and nail, often risking their freedom and even their lives in order to claim the rights which are rightfully theirs. More than 50% of university students in Iran are women; women are active in the work force, sports, cinema, literature, art and even politics.
Today women are in the front lines of the protests against the Regime, fighting side by side with men, fighting with everything they have for a society where they can enjoy the same rights, freedoms and responsibilities as men in the society. In order for that to happen we need a constitution that is based on rule of law rather than on religion.
There is also the judiciary and the mass communication which are also based in Islam, which I will not get into today.
Leaving the constitution aside for a moment the past 13 years in Iran has been a clear indicator that the Islamic Regime is not capable of reform. This became especially clear during the presidency of Mohammad Khatami, the so called reformist president whose biggest accomplishment was adding another 8 years to the life of the Islamic Regime, which had weakened significantly in the mid to late 90’s. Iran has experienced a reformist president for two terms, two bloody terms where student dissidents were arrested, tortured, executed or murdered in prisons. The presidency of the so called reformist Khatami also marks some of the worst human rights violations committed by the Islamic Regime in the past 31 years.
Fast forwarding to the 2009 [s]elections (I call it a selection not because Ahmadinejad won, but because of the selection process of the candidates and the way they are handpicked by the Supreme Leader and the Guardian Council). Mousavi and Karoubi the so called reformist candidates were handpicked by the “Supreme Leader” and the guardian council from among 400+ candidates. They were picked not because they were in anyway a threat, but because they were an integrated part of the Islamic Regime, and still are.
Most recently when brave Iranians took to the streets with the slogan of “independence, freedom, Iranian Republic” Mr. Mousavi came out and said the peoples slogan must be “Islamic Republic, not one word more and not one word less”. Mousavi is a supporter of the Islamic Regime and all the atrocities committed by the Regime. He has shown over and over in the past year and a half that he stands with the Regime and against the people.
The important question now is how do we achieve Regime Change in Iran? One thing is for certain, human rights is not enough. Human rights work can only take us so far, while we may be able to save one person from execution the Regime will go ahead and kill two more just to make a point. There are thousands of nameless and faceless political prisoners in Iran whom we will never be able to help, because we don’t know who they are. If we want to create real change and help protect the rights of all political prisoners, all ethnic and religious minorities and the Iranian people as a whole we must also focus on Regime change.
It is not a secret that even the Regime itself has created human rights activists and organizations for the sole purpose of instilling terror and fear in the heart of the Iranian people. These organizations receive very detailed information about torture, rape and execution of political prisoners from mysterious sources, they “smuggle out” videos of torture and rape from prisons for the sole purpose of making people afraid, to show them what will happen if they dare oppose the Regime.
These groups make contacts with activists in Iran and expose these activists to the Regime, so that they are arrested, tortured and thought a lesson not to oppose the Regime.
While it is important to be the voice of the voiceless the best and the most effective way to do it is by focusing on Regime change rather than solely on human rights.
We also need the help of the international community, not by way of military intervention, but by open support for the pro-democracy movement and by pushing for smart sanctions, in particular oil sanctions against the Islamic Regime.
Being an Iranian/Canadian I need to point out that the current Canadian Government has been extremely supportive of the Iranian people’s pro-democracy movement in Iran, by condemning human rights violations committed by the Islamic Regime on a regular basis, and by being one of the only governments that is pushing and supporting smart sanctions, especially oil and gas sanctions against the Regime.
I urge other governments to follow in the same path.
The video of my speech. Unfortunately the quality is not very good.