Saturday, August 9, 2008

Unlimited and Eternal Power

However you see or understand democracy, it starts from the roots, and like a tree grows strongly when its roots have penetrated in the soil holding firmly to the earth. In a religious society like Iran, with a long history of despotism and colonial domination you need to work patiently and continuously to ensure that democracy takes root. The Constitution of the Islamic Republic today provides ground for this discourse in Iranian society, but that alone does not suffice, particularly taking into consideration the conflicting interpretations and the obstacles facing the realization of democratic values.

As an NGO , the Center for Peace and Environment endeavored to play its share in this domain by convening a workshop on the role of environmental NGOs in promoting awareness and changing lifestyles in Iranian villages. We had invited four NGOs and experts to provide their success stories for the media and other NGO members. Education for protection of endangered species such as the cheetah, sustainable agricultural methods that would decrease pesticide and chemical fertilizer use, environmental education experiences for women's cooperatives in 30 villages throughout Iran and a project on enabling rural women to develop their potentials for sustainable resource management were discussed. Most of these projects had commenced during my tenure at the Department of the Environment and they had developed experiences worth sharing. I thanked them at the end and we gave them each an artwork of calligraphy from the Holy Quran.

On Thursday, I attended the annual congress of the Organization of the Mujjahedin of the Revolution. They are one of the major political parties in the reformist camp. All leaders and prominent members of the reform movement were present. Mr. Salamati read the Party's statement and then Dr.Hajjarian was given the floor to present his views. The audience gave him a lengthy standing ovation. After being attacked by a radical group in 1998, he now uses a walker and has difficulty in speaking. He went to the podium and announced that his speech would be read by another person.

He spoke about the necessity of containing and limiting the extent of power in any political structure. There is a tendency inherent in political power, to seek unlimited authority and to reign for an eternity. Democratic processes are in place to limit and control power and through efficient means of oversight and regulation to ensure accountability and transparency. He compared uncontrolled power to a high voltage current that can burn homes and neighbourhoods if not properly controlled to lower voltages appropriate for home appliances. He mentioned the regulatory mechanisms enshrined in the Constitution of the Islamic Republic which are not fully practiced. His speech was as usual very clear and to the point. I however, have certain doubts whether the timing of this discourse, which targets the power and leadership structures , is appropriate. We are nearing the very sensitive months before Presidential elections and the reformists should take necessary precautions.

3 comments:

Holly said...

fkruniiyParis, 8 Aug. (IPS) In a revival of the worse Stalinian methods of suppressing dissidents, the official news agency of the Islamic Republic of Iran IRNA claimed that the daughter of Mrs. Shirin Ebadi, the outspoken Iranian lawyer, human rights campaigner and winner of the prestigious Nobel Peace in 2003 has converted to Baha’ism, a fate outlawed in Iran and considered as a “seditious sect”.

What is your take on this?

kathy said...

your country is in need of a real change of direction, i.e., a new supreme leader! don't worry so much about the presidential elections, your Dr. Hajjarian was probably saying that because he was looking at the big picture! what could Khatami really do as a president for 8 years? not much! he needs to become the supreme leader if he wants to affect real reforms in the IRI. your Assembly of Experts needs to bring up the question of supreme leadership in the constitution, and revise the wisdom of its lifetime nature, it has to be changed to a 20 year or a 25 year term as opposed to a lifetime term! a country's direction needs to change course and get a fresh perspective in its leadership at least every quarter-century, this is what the founding fathers of the Islamic revolution (Motahhari, Beheshti, Bazargan, Taleghani, ...) had in mind when they put "velayat-e faghih" on top of the entire democratic system of Iran's new republic, they could not have possibly meant for it to become a theocracy! if they did, then condolences to all your revolutionary veterans and the families of all those martyrs of 1979 (17 Shahrivar), the blood of those "shaheeds" have been spilled for absolutely NOTHING!!!! "heyhat menna zellah"!!!!

Anonymous said...

@ Holly: Your reductionist view is not going top help anybody.

"In the revival of Stalinian methods"? What is this? A piece of objective "news" or a propaganda press release?

& if that's the standard we have to judge people with, what do you think should be our judgment of the leader of free world, Unites States of America?

What should we call those who started a war on pure lies, those who lied to their own congress, their own people? what should we make of the fact that those people could GET AWAY with what they'd done? what is democratic about the fact that those who started a war which resulted in the killing of more than a million Iraqis & a few thousand Americans & has ruined American economy, are walking free & not even threatened with a simple worthless impeachment?

Now is that Stalinian, or not?

Sorry for the long comment, but the literature we use is very important in the way we see & therefore act in the world; we should be careful.

As for Shirin Ebadi; she's fine. more than two weeks has passed & everybody has forgot about that.

I'm not defending those who did it, but Irna is just one news agency among many Iranian agencies.

It's run by Government, not the whole system of Islamic Republic.

Remember? Iran's a democracy. The other two third of the government, the parliament & judiciary have nothing to do with that. It's important to note that since now, both the parliament & the judiciary are the biggest critics are the government.