Yesterday, the world made history as I made my way through my last moments of slumber; proliferating social media were sentiments of “A win for diplomacy” and “nuclear non-proliferation”. Democracy, on the other hand, remains the elephant in the room. I was filled with excitement as I conceived of a country with better means to
Yesterday, the world made history as I made my way through my last moments of slumber; proliferating social media were sentiments of “A win for diplomacy” and “nuclear non-proliferation”. Democracy, on the other hand, remains the elephant in the room.
I was filled with excitement as I conceived of a country with better means to feed a struggling population under the sanctions regime; I was approached with a sense of hope, that perhaps now the media and people would focus on, visit and learn about the rich cultural and historical heritage of a country, which is otherwise way too often made synonymous to a desert, or made out to be an extension of “the Arab world”.
I watched Obama state that the international community had accomplished what animosity hadn’t in decades – to reach a deal with Islamic Republic of Iran on it’s nuclear program. Yesterday the president ratified a partnership with a country that since its Islamic revolution of 1979 and the Iranian Hostage Crisis, had been in a cold war in its own respect with the rest of the international community; a crusade of anti-western values had come to an end and so had the witch-hunt for Iran’s nuclear capabilities.
A moment of hesitation consumes me as I reach for my phone to share my thoughts with my father, who once fled this very country. Excitement is replaced with doubt as I think of the stories of his time in prison; hope is replaced with fury as I am reminded how many fellow Iranians had been taken for no crime but the crime of voicing their concerns by peaceful and legitimate means. I think of the countless incidents of injustice spoken about with ever-present fear: 30,000 executed for political activism in 1988; Bahais persecuted to this day for their faith; freedom of speech literally prohibited as a means of managing “harmful discourse” to the general public in 1985; an average of two people executed every day for allegations including drug crime (between 2007-2012, 1663 were executed); and finally the nonsensical, seasonal and arbitrary annual dress-code crackdown. Yesterday the president ratified a partnership with a country that to this day leads a horror-regime.
I’m hesitant, not because I fear that Iran won’t follow up on their end of the bargain; not because I don’t truly believe that a relief from the economic chokehold that has taken to do to the Iranian people and economy what it has done to our Greek brothers and sisters will alleviate the general pressure from upon the shoulders of hard-working, deprived people;
I am hesitant not because I in any way oppose nuclear non-proliferation – I do not believe that the question of Iran calls for military measures (as is otherwise the solution par excellence in the middle east).
I am made hesitant because I fear that we are forgetting the Iranian people. With the Defenders of Human Rights Centre shut down in Iran, little is achieved to relieve a people taken hostage by their own state. We preach democracy, and treat Iran re-entering the international community as if it were a feat – a testament – to its will for democracy, to its will for liberty, to its will for upholding and protecting the basic rights of its citizens. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
I mean to issue a word of warning by not celebrating the nuclear-deal. Negotiating with the Islamic Republic has left the regime with a greater foothold in the country than ever before. It is not inconceivable that 30 years of dictatorship will have been granted yet another 30 years, by the virtue of acquiring the false façade of saviours of its people, having achieved a relief of the harsh sanctions regime imposed upon it. A nuclear-deal facilitating a government’s continued oppression of its people is one that simply isn’t good enough.
The question of whether the US and the international community should have allowed more pressure to be built and not pursued a nuclear deal is one that is of little meaning in the grand scheme of things: a nuclear deal guarantees the security of the world and must be pursued at all costs. Similarly, I have every bit of sympathy that alleviating the economic situation in Iran through the deal will mean getting to an acceptable standard across the country, as banks re-open, currencies are exchanged, goods are traded and oil is sold.
I fear however that people are being fooled, and I fear that their hunger leaves an understandable desperation for relief in the face of the realization that this horror-regime is there to stay. Is there a solution then? I have not written this article with the belief that I have found a solution, nor to suggest that there even is one. Perhaps we could all allow ourselves to be consumed by a bit of light by hoping that the partnership will allow for discourse, a pinch of assimilation and bargaining power, to accustom the Islamic Republic to a more moderate entity over the long run. Certainly however, the deal is no catalyst for democracy or liberty; one could be so audacious to say that it is a death sentence to the principles themselves. As an Iranian, I am not celebrating the nuclear-deal; I refuse to forget the Iranian people.