Iran Human RightsA revolution gone wrong?

A revolution gone wrong?

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Khaleej Times (UAE) editorial: IRAN needs change. This is a long recognised fact and even those in the establishment do agree that the country needs to change and change soon. But when those who led the Islamic Revolution in 1979 from the front give the clarion call for reform pointing out the revolution has gone wrong, it really is bad news for Iran’s rulers. Khaleej Times (UAE) editorial

IRAN needs change. This is a long recognised fact and even those in the establishment do agree that the country needs to change and change soon. But when those who led the Islamic Revolution in 1979 from the front give the clarion call for reform pointing out the revolution has gone wrong, it really is bad news for Iran’s rulers.

Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri and Grand Ayatollah Yusef Saanei, both close followers of the father of Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Khomeini, have expressed grave concern over the fact the regime has failed to deliver on the promises of fundamental rights and freedom made by the avante garde of Iranian Revolution.

What should be the cause of concern to the Islamists is the deep anguish and utter frustration in the complaint of the two religious leaders, immensely respected in Iran and elsewhere for their intellectual contribution. Montazeri’s stature, in fact, is almost equal to that of the late Khomeni. No wonder he was once seen as Khomeni’s successor.

Why are these men unhappy and angry, then? They are disillusioned with the way the revolution has gone awry. The Islamists, when they took over, promised a new dawn of Islamic democracy based on justice, liberty and human rights seeking to usher in the golden era of Islamic renaissance everywhere. Their revolutionary message inspired and electrified the whole of Muslim world from Morocco to Malaysia. However, as has happened with many revolutions in the past, Iran’s revolutionaries — bogged down by their infighting and allure of power — soon lost sight of their goal. External factors like a crippling war imposed by Saddam’s Iraq and international isolation also played their role. As a result, the revolution went off the track to lose its direction forever. Today there is nothing revolutionary about Iran. In fact, the Islamic republic is little different from other autocratic regimes in Muslim world in its approach to political accountability, democracy and, people’s liberties.

Is there no hope for Iran, then? The answer is in negative as long as the present set of leaders — unwilling to change and isolated from the rest of the world as they are — continue to rule the country. As Montazeri and Saanei have pointed out, even a democratic exercise is not likely to make a difference to Iran. A leader like Khatami, who began on an ambitious note to reform the country, hasn’t been able to do much despite his popular mandate because of the stranglehold of hardliners over power. The June 17 presidential poll is likely to be merely yet another election. A real and positive change can come to Iran only when its people resolve and act — just as they have done in the past — to change things for the better. Only the Iranian have the power to change their tomorrow.

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