Baran or the Foundation for Prosperity, Progress and Freedom of Iran was established in 2005 as a non-governmental organization by former President Khatami. The Foundation aims to compile and document the experiences of two rounds of reformist government in Iran. The gains, losses and lessons learnt need to be objectively analysed and understood as a worthwhile experience of governance in the Islamic Republic.
Some observers believe that the reform period has been one of the most successful era that Iran has experienced during the past century, in terms of achievements in economic growth, sustainable development, social and political advances and much more. They believe that this successful term of governance in the Islamic Republic is worth studying in depth. Baran has begun a series of sessions on the principles and and basic precepts of the reform movement in Iran. The theoretical basics of reform discourse and the understanding that Khatami is expected to provide in this respect is discussed in each round.
In each session President Khatami presents his perspectives and then questions are put forward from the audience. The third session in these series was held tonight. Hundreds had attended and Khatami spoke clearly about certain features of the Constitution which are not properly upheld and which need to be precisely implemented. No power structure is left without oversight and regulation according to the Constitution, he said and even the Leader is held accountable for his actions based on certain articles of the Constitution.
Khatami mentioned that one of the best memories of his two terms as President was the moment when in 2004 students in Tehran University harshly criticized him following the speech he delivered. We have a long history of despotism, colonialism, tyranny and imperialism in Iran, he noted and now after the Revolution we are only learning to implement democracy , freedom and authentic religious values. The fact that a student could criticise the power structure and directly address the President without any fear of retribution was a great leap forward, and I felt proud he said.
I think what Khatami mentioned is an important experience for power structures in both developing and industrial societies. Freedom in the true meaning of the word is not limited to individual freedoms, lifestyle , and enjoyment but it is the freedom to choose for one's destiny, to question governing policies, to move upstream against the mainstream current. Very few governments in today's world can tolerate those standards . Democracy is a very common and regularly used term that has apparently lost its true meaning in many societies, both Eastern and Western.