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6/6/06

An Open Letter to Campaign for Peace and Democracy

By Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich, Salt Lake City, Utah

 

To: Joanne Landy, Thomas Harrison, and Jennifer Scarlott, Co-Directors

      Campaign for Peace and Democracy

 

cc: Antiwar.com, Payvand.com

 

Having ignored my correspondence of 5/28/06, you leave yourselves open to criticism and your motives questionable with regards to your petition entitled “Iran: Neither U.S. Aggression nor Theocratic Repression” (http://www.cpdweb.org/ ). I am fully aware that several scholars and reputable individuals have written to you on the same topic to correct the erroneous statements in your petition, asking you to correct the misinformation which plays into the hands of the neo-conservatives who wish to make war on Iran, but you have chosen to dismiss them.  This begs the question why would individuals of your standing choose to misguide the public and select ‘gossip’ over fact?

 

You defiantly speak against the powers that wish to bring about modern day slavery.  Your abhorrence of war and aggression heightens your humanitarian endeavor.  Yet your confusing petition contradicts your intolerance of the US imperial violence; for the gossip-laden text, signed by so many ‘liberals’ and ‘leftists’, is the convincing argument needed that will have this White House take us to yet another war – this time based on lies, hatred, and to promote democracy from the onset, never mind the WMDs! 

 

Perhaps your intent is to draw attention to the US aggression and the grand strategy of neo-cons ‘regime change’, but by pinpointing every conceivable true, untrue, and exaggerated fault of the clerical regime in Iran, it will fuel the administration to go ahead with its aggressive plans.  In a climate where every person and NGO is under suspicion as a matter of US foreign policy—recall that it was the American Enterprise Institute and the State Department that are doling out funds to NGO’s and ‘pro-democracy’ groups to topple the regime—the Iranian government has become more oppressive for fear of being dismantled.  This is not an excuse, simply a reason.  

 

While the Western media portray the atrocities of life in Iran, they also reflect exaggerations and lies.  Let us not be forgetful of the fact that Iran has always been the victim of a caste system, one it denied and hid well from the world.  There is a crucial distinction, often missed by western media or western feminist commentators between women having to wear the full covering (chador) and a thin scarf.  Inarguably, many distinguished women of high socio-economical background freely adopt the chador, however, often, the chador is indicative of the ‘caste’ system in Iran based on social status and not religion.  Even during the Shah’s reign, the less affluent classes chose the chador not as a religious symbol, but simply because they were born into it.  This said, imposition of any head-covering is against free-will.  I am opposed to any head-covering being imposed.

 

More importantly, what is left unsaid is that while during the Shah’s regime the chador was a hindrance to a woman’s progress, in today’s Iran, we witness the same less privileged classes become far more educated with a chance to emerge out of their social status.  The chador is not an impediment to their future development.  Iranian women are one of the most unique in the Islamic world for their participation in every aspect of civil society from administration to sports, to armed forces.   It took decades for the women in this country to earn the right to vote, yet Iran boasts of 13 members of parliament.  It sent a female vice president to the world economic forum – Davos.  Her beauty did not match that of the stunning Angelina Jolie, but each to her own talents.   I wonder when the United States will have its first Vice President.  Let us recall how long it has been since it had its constitution?

 

You write of women “They cannot dress, work, travel..”, and yet in the very same paragraph you write “Women vote and sit in parliament, and there are significant numbers of women both in university and at the workplace.”  From your own statement one can see how very confusing the Western media can be to leave such contradictory impact on one.  I would have thought that as peace activists, you would check gossip before propagating it.   Iranian women are indeed major contributors to the workforce. 

 

Unlike Turkey, there is no honor killing in Iran as was stated in the petition.  There is difference between what happens in different social classes and what the government and the law endorses.  Women choose their own husbands, and again, those who do not are victims of their social status, not the Islamic rule.  This is a rule that is prevalent world over.  We are not consciously aware of it.  In the Western world, a woman who marries for money is as guilty, if not more so, for her choice is other than a spouse.  It was not the law of the land that dictated her action, yet her decision is protected by the law. 

 

During the Shah’s regime, women had to have their husband’s approval to travel.  How belittling, yet America supported this man with arms, no one thought women were deprived.  It was all glitter but where was the gold?   

 

I also understand that there is cause for concern regarding the brutally of hanging homosexuals.   Please bear in mind that in some cases the accused had raped under-aged boys.  Regardless, capital punishment is barbaric everywhere, both here and in Iran.  We are just as guilty executing low IQ victims in this country.  However, while there is a vicious act such as capital punishment, the Iranian government shows compassion by allowing, and paying for transsexuals who would benefit from andrology.   This degree of care, I believe, is only available in the city of San Francisco. 

 

As for exporting its anti-gay crusade to Iraq – I would check the facts, maybe you have the wrong country and the wrong person.  I believe this is something that you should take up with Rumsfeld and his gang of sadistic torturers.  Today, the Los Angeles Times is reporting the Pentagon has decided to make it official policy to ignore a key tenet of the Geneva Convention that explicitly bans "humiliating and degrading treatment” of detainees.  An insult to a prisoner’s manhood, it is reported, has been an effective means of extracting information.  Indeed, a country that is paranoid about having gays in the army, and recent exposure of  pictures from Abu-Gharib prison where a pyramid of naked men were marks of torture, is indicative that it is the United States that is “exporting its violent anti-gay crusade to Iraq”, as you call it, and not Iran.  Interesting choice of word though – ‘crusade’.

 

On that note, please remember that America lost the 2004 elections to George W. Bush based on a cultural divide, not on partisanship.  Those who were opposed to homosexuality and abortion put G.W. Bush in the White House.  Congress is debating whether banning gay marriage should become part of the American Constitution.  It is sad that these mindsets and issues should lead the world and yet you criticize other nations which, frankly speaking, are less advanced, on the same controversial topics. 

 

While no shred of evidence has been found that Iran is deviating from its nuclear energy program, you side with ‘suspicion and gossip’.   A signatory of the NPT is referred to the UN Security Council only if it has violated the NPT provisions. A nation can violate these provisions only if, (1) it has weaponized, and (2) if has helped another nation to weaponize. Neither is the case with Iran. Therefore, sending Iran's dossier to the United Nations Security Council is itself a violation of the NPT.  Iran has been found in breach of the Safeguard agreement. That only gets a discussion by the Board of Governors of the IAEA, and the breaching nation can only be censored.  The US has coaxed, coerced and bribed its way thus far, and plans to sanction and attack Iran.  Pray, don’t assist warmongers if you call yourselves peace activists.  

 

It is inconceivable that you should lend yourself to hearsay and not explore facts before repeating them.  Ahmadinejad did not call for the annihilation of Israel, as you incorrectly state.  His quote from Khomeini was mistranslated.  The translation of it is: "this regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time" just as the Shah's regime in Iran had vanished.  He had not suggested that Iran would be involved in bringing it about.”[i]

 

I admire and respect your wish to want to extend your love of democracy to Iran.  But I ask that you first define democracy – If you are so successful, as campaigners for peace and democracy, and US citizens, you owe it to those from whom you solicit signatures, to explain why it is that you do not demand democracy in this country.  Why not bring democracy to America before your attempt to fight for a nation you know only through neo-con gossip?  It is curious that we have closed-session Congress.

 

I understand the NEED to be free.  Iran will address those needs, or the people of Iran will.  But they must do this without being hindered, nor without being pushed.  It is the US government policies that need to be curbed in order to induce an atmosphere amenable to change from within Iran.  Criticism of the Islamic Republic at a time when the media is focused on it will only heighten the crisis.    Outside interference aborted Iran’s chances of democracy in 1953.  The same forces are preventing Iranians from an indigenous move.  More than any other country in the world, Kant’s “Perpetual Peace” is being translated and read in the Universities[ii], whereas in the United States it is Machiavelli’s “Prince”[iii] that has won by virtue of US foreign policy.

 

You have included the following in your finishing paragraph of your petition: “to educate public opinion, and to build organized opposition to aggression against Iran,” – As with democracy, I believe you should begin with educating yourselves.  You should also organize opposition to aggression with yourselves.  While it is true that Iran is a long way from democracy, and indeed there is much oppression in that country, take a hard, long look at the land of ‘Lady Liberty’.    Every day our freedoms are being curbed under the pretext of “War on Terror’ – Our personal liberties, such as partners, abortion, conversations, etc. are being decided upon by people we did not put in office.  I ask you, what democracy do you want to export to Iran that you yourselves are benefiting from?  Words are so terribly cheap.  I used over 1700 of them…..

 

About the author: Educated in Iran, England and France, she obtained her Bacherlor’s degree in International Relations from the University of Southern California (USC), Los Angeles.

Her research interests are U.S. Foreign Policy towards Iran and Iran’s nuclear program. 

Soraya continues to do extensive research on both subjects.  She has authored numerous articles on the current crisis.  She is a public speaker and radio commentator.

 

 



[iii] The end justifies the means attitude - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_ends_justify_the_means

... Payvand News - 6/6/06 ... --



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