The conference “Human rights in Iran - how can we support the freedom movement from Europe?” attracted many guests to Brussels and achieved serious results. There were six speakers on the panel of the Brussels conference and more than 60 guests who liked to discuss and engage for Human Rights in Iran. Both facts were a welcome sign that the conference was needed and staged a necessity of time. Not only exiled Iranians were present but several people from Belgium, The Netherlands, France and Germany helped to achieve some conclusions.
The frame of the conference consisted of three main steps:
1. Trying to define the ruling system in Iran, in order to be able to understand, why the Human Rights situation is utmost alarming.
2. Description of the Human Rights violations in Iran through authentic reports.
3. Putting up proposals how European citizens can support the civil society in Iran.
The speakers in the panel Emile Franck from Amnesty International, Belgium condemned the state of human rights in Iran since the last elections and pointed out that his Organisation constantly bemoaned the violations of human rights in Iran before as well.
Dirk Tieleman, who is an experienced journalist in service of Belgian TV and travelled in the same plane that brought 1979 Ayatollah Khomeini from Paris to Teheran, reported about what he considered as changes in the Iranian society since the revolution. He stressed that many people had learned to read and write and infrastructure had improved. While filming in Iran he had different encounters with some friendly and some fierce watchdogs from the Iranian Ministry for Culture. Tieleman is convinced that the state system would collapse the day there would be no more money left to pay the poor people. The Iranian state has a widespread subsidiary practice for its followers. Some participants confronted him later with statistics of massive drug addicts and unemployed to show that little real improvement has been achieved, but agreed with him there should be no military intervention from the Western powers in Iran.
Ebrahim Nabavi is an Iranian journalist and satirist, who lives in Belgium and assigns himself to the green movement. He publishes for Roozonline and Gooya, which are Iranian Online-Media. Nabavi discribed the green movement as a strong popular movement for civil rights, freedom and democracy in Iran. He indicated, that the subject of the human rights never had a high rank on the political agenda, but became more important through the work of the green movement. He claimed to be proud about the fact that this green movement had managed to bring hundreds of Thousands to the streets who demonstrated peaceful. His main statement: "We want you to help us to secure freedom, human rights and democracy which are not only necessities for the people of Iran but are also a great concern for the whole world....We want to ask you not to sacrifice the issue of human rights for any political or economic game and until now, the governments of the EU and the US have approached the issue of human rights in a rational way. But this is not enough, as the regime in Iran spreads its lies in the world; we need you to listen to the voice of the regime's opposition and to become aware of the situation of human rights in Iran and its continuous violation." Therefore the audience applauded.
Nasser Fakhteh originates from Iran, he lives in The Netherlands where he is an author. He told about his Odyssee when he fled from Iran, just how nowadays many Iranians, especially young journalists, experience. Fakhteh described his personal experiences about growing up in a surrounding that would have liked to control every detail of his life. He was put into prison for investigating too curiously in the field of Philosophy and background informations. His sentence was lifelong, but as he was not 18 years old yet, he was released after a few years for formal reasons of the regime wanting to keep a clean face in front of the world. It did help a lot when BBC investigated and reported about prisons in Iran in his time in jail. The awareness of the foreign countries towards the state of the prisoners in Iran gave him a lot of relieve and hope and courage. Furtheron Fakhteh pointed out that the usage of modern media like twitter and e-mail is subject to many mistakes and misunderstandings, if the content is not being thoroughly checked and passed over to others. The regime in Iran is specialized in distributing lies and starting distracting campaigns. Fakhteh appealed for a clear mind dealing with news from Iran.
He called the freedom movement of Iran a social movement with deep roots. He proposed to start a committee in support of refugees from Iran.
The fifth speaker was Prof. Dr. Firouzeh Nahavandi who structured her speech in three parts and stressed that she would speak from a scholars point of view. She described in the first step Iran as the hardest regime in the world. More and more death sentences would receive a religious cause. She talked about the client-politics inside the country and mentioned that there are still incredibly poor people who sell their children because they cannot provide them with food. She reminded of the numerous Iranian women who struggle for more rights of women. In a second step she characterized the green movement as a sponatanously formed movement which MirHosain Mousawi and Mehdi Karoubi had joined without really being their leaders. In her view the green movement has achieved that people in the world talk about what is going on in Iran and people in the whole world saw the true face of the persons in power. She felt it important to really clear how everybody talking about democracy would define this term and if democracy would be possible in a religious system. She did not provide an own interpretation during the conference, though. She finished with her third step in which she demanded a separation of religion and politics and delivered an appeal to the European states to stick to its own values and not to place economic interests before their own values. Professor Nahavandi suggested to european media and politicians to give Iranian dissidents more room to express their thoughts and experiences.
The row of speakers was completed by Dr. Mostafa Azmayesh, who is an Islamologue and religious scientist. On the one hand he pointed out that Iranians could participate in a referendum in 1979 but could only choose between continuing with the shah and a new constitution, whereas Ayatollah Khomeini added the principle of Velayat-e-faghi after the referendum to the new constitution. In so far the calls of the Iranians for a new referendum in Dr. Azmayesh’s opinion are legitimate and one has to trust to the maturity of Iranians that they would bring the system of Velayat-e-faghi to an end. On the other hand he elobarted that there was a cold coup d’état in Iran by a sect that has a messianic ideology and that was named by Azmayesh as the Armaggedonist sect that has come to power in Iran. Officially they would support the system of Velayat-e-faghi behind Khameneii but secretely they install a military dictatorship with clearly fascist features. The essence of the ideology of the Armaggedonist sect according to Dr. Azmayesh is messianic, only true and epansionist. The so called Hojiatieh society stands behind this movement. Other terms for this radical sect are Mahdiists, Mesbahists or the term found by Azmayesh, Armaggedonists. One the powerbrokers and most influential figure in the background is Mesbah Yazdi, who names himself an Ayatollah but represents such radical views on Islam that all pious Muslims regard him as unworthy. Mesbah Yazdi is director of various religious institutes in Qom and receives vast amounts of money from the government. He supports president Ahmadinedjad fully. The chief ideologue of a group that controls the revoltutionary guards called Hadjane Seasineh Sepah, is a man called Dr. Hassan Abassi. He educates the cadre that shall provide the return of the awaited Messiah Al-Mahdi. Normally the Shiite wait for the appearance of the Hidden Imam. Abassi has fulfilled a change of paradigm and has turned the nature of waiting from passive to becoming very active. Abassi holds that the Hidden Imam waits for his believers to create the circumstances under which he can reappear. This switch of paradigm is the incitement for a world revolution, a legitimation for the export of unrest, chaos, disarray, conceivement and bloodshed to Europe and the rest of the world. Therefore Dr. Azmayesh reasoned in the conference is engagement of European citizens and politicians for people and their rights in Iran in the same time an engagement for the rights and the freedom of our children in Europe.
In this spirit all participants felt united and agreed that the conference might only be a start and the newly found coalitions must continue with further actions. One of the participants claimed for a greater involvement of student groups and offered to be an intermediary.
Conclusions In the end there were several ideas about the support of the freedom movement in Iran on the table:
1. Europe! Stick to the values you have proclaimed yourself. Don’t put economical interests before human rights in Iran.
2. Citizens of Europe! Inform youselves about the nature of the political forces that have taken over Iran. It makes you aware of what people in Iran are fighting against.
3. Citizens of Europe! Inform yourselves about the events in Iran, demand from the press more insight in the human rights situation and the violations of simple citizens rights.
4. European countries! Support the representatives of opposition groups building up their own media instead of creating more and more administrative barriers. You don’t even need to invest money in that.
5. Citizens of Europe! Please help to shelter the refugees from Iran from the persecutions of their regime. Support Nasser Fakhteh to build a Committee in support of these refugees.
6. Military! Keep your fingers out of the game. When the human rights situation will find more attention and the freedom movement in Iran will be fully backed from the West, it will deal by itself with the regime inside the country.
7. Community of the entire world! Insist on the creation of an independent international commission that surveys the human rights inside of Iran, similar to the commission that surveys the nuclear case.
The conference was finalized with a recitation by Nasser Fakhteh of a poem composed by him about Neda Agha-Soltan, the young woman who was shot dead in the streets and who grew to a symbol of the resistance of the Iranians confronting their regime.
Helmut N. Gabel, mehriran.de