Compelled by the inalienable right of the people to institute their government and replace it when it fails to serve its constituents in the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness, millions of Iranians representing the entire spectrum of society are demanding change from the repressive theocracy to an open secular democracy.
More than three decades of rule by the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) has not only failed to advance the security and well-being of the people, it has ensnared the nation in a stifling theocracy where the rights of the governed are routinely violated for the benefit of the governing.
The revolution of 1979 that brought down Mohammad Reza Shah’s dictatorship in the hope of instituting a democratic government was quickly usurped by a religious autocracy.
Endemic to autocracies is the subjugation of the interests of the people to that of the state and the IRI has been no exception. In order to maintain its hold on the nation, the IRI has employed suppressive measures, some of which are briefly listed here:
* The IRI has replaced every protective provision of the Universal Charter of the Declaration of Human Rights with theocratic fiats of the state which govern all aspects of the citizens’ private and public life.
* The IRI has abandoned the administration of justice in accordance with the due process of law practiced in civilized societies and has adopted the discriminatory laws of Sharia. The sacrosanct assumption of innocence is discarded. Arbitrary arrests, long detentions without formal charges, the administration of all forms of physical and psychological torture, and summary execution of political dissenters and religious minorities have became the standard behavior of the system.
* All forms of freedoms, mankind’s precious legacy, were either taken away or severely restricted. Freedom of assembly, of the press, and association were taken away from the people and became the exclusive prerogatives of the state.
* Journalists and writers of all subjects were forced to serve the state or face merciless punishment. Numerous journalists, writers and thinkers were imprisoned; some languished for decades and some met an early death.
* The religious and ethnic diverse groups of the nation, which has been a great source of its strength and cherished heritage throughout the ages, were severely repressed in an attempt to force the populace into a monolithic religious mold advocated by the state. Religious minorities such as Baha’is, Jews, Christians and others found themselves persecuted in a variety of ways in their own homeland. Some abandoned their livelihood, homes and relatives to flee to the four corners of the globe in search of religious freedom and safety. In Iran many ended up as prisoners of conscience, some were forced to recant their beliefs, and a number were executed and buried secretly in unmarked graves.
* Women, who during ancient times were honored as equals to men, were reduced to the rank of second-class citizens. Their family rights became severely constricted. Their access to occupations such as judgeships was denied, in line with the theocracy’s belief that women are incapable of rendering sound verdicts, and allowed only a token presence in high-ranking government positions.
Forward: Secular Green Movement of Iran
Delving extensively on the misdeeds of the IRI diverts us from focusing attention on the most promising development that calls upon both Iranians and the entire membership of the human family for change. The Secular Green Movement of Iran (SGMI), birthed by tens of millions of liberty-loving, long-suffering Iranians, is squarely based on our ancient triad of Good Thoughts, Good Speech, and Good Deeds.
The guiding principles and objective of the SGMI, although presently focused on Iran, can serve as a universal template for every people in our common planet home. Close examination of the SGMI’s proclamation reveals an enthralling vision:
* Fundamental to effective change is the replacement of the old faulty and destructive beliefs with universally emancipating principles and behavior. Prejudice of all forms has been the scourge of humanity forever. Prejudice of gender, ethnicity, religious beliefs and more has tied humanity to separate chains and has prevented it from living as the true family that it is and from reaping the full benefits of its potentialities on earth. It is with firm belief in complete and unconditional equality for all people, irrespective of any and all considerations, that the SGMI summons the entirety of the human family for a new beginning.
* Some 2,500 years ago, a farsighted and benevolent king, Cyrus the Great, issued an historic proclamation to the varied peoples of his vast empire. He granted every people their rights to dignity, independence, beliefs and their way of life. The trailblazing king, considered as the first author of the Charter of Human Rights, showed the justice as well as the feasibility of diverse peoples living peacefully with one another to the benefit of all.
* Pivotal to the emancipation of the people, their well-being, and prosperity, is the enshrining of liberty as the birthright of every individual, group, and nation. Without freedom of thought, belief, and conduct within the bounds of the law, both the individual and the collective will be stifled resulting in a human enterprise unworthy of the name. The SGMI is unalterably committed to freedom in all its forms. It is freedom that energizes the flourishing of mankind’s best ideas and achievements in all spheres of life. It is freedom that sets humanity apart from other species that are captives of their nature.
* Indispensable to the exercise of freedom and protection of the rights of all people to choose their government is the complete separation of religion and state. The merits of this principle are self-evident. Religion and civil governance are two separate realms and intrusion by one into the other is fraught with great harm. Hence, iron-clad provisions are needed to keep the two domains apart.
* Iran is home to a religiously and ethnically diverse people and each and every one is an equal shareholder of the homeland. Guaranteeing equality to all its citizens, therefore, demands no less than full adherence to the principle of unity in diversity, a unity of purpose that draws from the strength and uniqueness of its constituents.
* Fruition of mankind’s perennial dreams is not possible without permanently renouncing wars and the development of its cataclysmic instruments. The SGMI renounces violence of all kinds, be they execution of minors for alleged crimes, stoning of sexual offenders and killing people for commitment of victimless crimes, genocidal campaigns against groups, or aggressing against other nations.
* The non-violent position of the SGMI transcends its pragmatic value. It is inspired by the longstanding Iranian belief in the organic oneness of humanity as expressed by the classic Persian poem—“Bani adam azaye yek paykarand; ke as adamiyat ze yek joharand; cho ozvi be dard aavarad roozegaar; degar ozvhaara namaanad gharaar. In English, “the children of Adam are members of one body; their creation is of the same essence; when a member suffers; other members have no peace.”
* Transition from the present failed Islamic regime to a secular democracy is the central objective of the SGMI. In pursuance of this objective, a Constitutional Assembly, elected by the entirety of eligible Iranian voters under the supervision of international monitors could be the means to usher in the new system of governance. The SGMI, without reserving any special privilege for itself, would gladly serve as a sponsor and a clearinghouse for any and all preliminary consultations and actions that are needed to implement the transition.
* Vital to the success of the effort is the abandonment of old suspicions, parochial thinking, and scheming for special privileges for any individuals or groups. Goodwill and work for the common good is required of all. This new beginning is a paradigm shift from the destructive ways of the past. There is much to be gained by all when justice and equity are not exclusive to the few. Justice in all its forms, as is the case with freedom, must be the guiding principle of the new Iran, recalling the warning of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
* This is the dawn of a new day for our homeland, Iran. Over three decades of darkness has reached its inevitable end. People on the mountaintops are clearly discerning the rays of the new sun that inevitably will chase away the gloom of darkness. And these witnesses make up the Secular Green Movement of Iran which, with open arms, welcomes every Iranian into one unified, free democratic nation. It is time to celebrate the new day by enlisting all of us in the work of ushering in the light of freedom and insuring that never again will it be replaced by the darkness of oppression. The SGMI is calling upon all Iranians, whether at home or abroad, as well as all individuals and nations to join in ushering in the new day and to contribute whatever they can to make it a truly magnificent change of fortune for Iran as well as for the entire home of humanity, the global village earth.
FamilySecurityMatters.org Contributing Editor Amil Imani is an Iranian-born American citizen and a pro-democracy activist residing in the United States of America. Imani is a columnist, literary translator, novelist and essayist who has been writing and speaking out for the struggling people of his native land, Iran.