Many faces of Human Right violation in Iran
And CNFI’s Solution
For a transition to Democracy and Federalism
Presented by Nasser Boladai in a meeting in the Swiss Parliaments on behalf of Congress of Nationalities for a Federal Iran on 4th June 2009
Iran is a multi-national country, with several other major nationalities in addition to the Persians; namely the Ahwazi Arabs, Azerbaijani, Baloch, Kurd and Turkmen. These nations constitute more than 50% of Iran's total population, yet they continue to experience cultural, social and political discrimination.
The Iranian centralized government has effectively denied the country's many religious minorities and nationalities their cultural, linguistic, social rights, religious freedom. Thereby creating a system in which non-Persians and non-Shiites are discriminated against. Ethnic and religious minorities, along with women, suffer marginalization and systematic discrimination, as successive governments have ensured their exclusion from power in the constitution.
The recent years have been witness to increased and extensive human rights violations in non dominant nationalities regions.
The suppression of none dominant nationalities in Iran are manifold. One of the grim faces of suppression is physical insecurity, which is manifested by the continued execution of members of none dominant nationalities particularly in Balochistan, Kurdistan and Ahwaz.
Suppression of the civil society and non governmental organizations is an integral policy of the current regime. One of its victim was Voice of Justice. Its leaders were arrested and two of them, Mr. Yaghob Mehrnihad and Abdul Nasser, were executed after imprisonment and torture. Some of the leaders are still in prison. One of the imprisoned is Mr. Ibrahim Mehrnihad, the younger brother of Mr. Yaghob Mehrnihad, who spent his eighteenth birthday in the prison. He has been sentenced to five years in prison for giving information to the media about his brother and other prisoners.
Another face of regime injustice is religious workers. Two religious workers were executed on the 9th of April 2008, in Balochistan. Hundreds of other religious activists have been arrested and are still in prison in Iran.
In the last two years two mosques and religious schools were destroyed and religious worker arrested. "Abu Hanifa Mosque," in Azimabad a suburb of the city of Zabol, was attacked and demolished on the 27th of August 2008 and its students and staff were arrested. On the 27th of October 2007, another mosque in the same district was attacked and destroyed by associates of the Revolutionary Guard in the Zabol area of Balochistan. The mosque was closed and its Imam, Hafez Mohammad Ali Shahbkhsh was arrested.
Members of Baha’i faith are particularly targeted, their basic human right are violated and they marked as traitor, blamed to have connection with foreign government hence are under constant persecution, by Iranian security forces.
To achieve a federal Iran the Congress of nationalities, while organizing itself internally, is also trying to build an alliance for a transition to democracy and secularism; and the creation of a federal system based on parity of constituent part.
Iran, as theocratic and patriarchal society, discriminates against women. Discrimination against women is institutionalized, and enshrined in the constitution. Women activists are harassed and imprisoned.
The current Iranian regime does not allowing workers to freely build unions, in order to struggle for their class and social rights. Workers leaders are harassed and some are in prison, most notably Mansor Usanloo, Ebrahim Madadi and Mahmood Salhi.
Beside these sections, there are other groups, most notably student movements and organizations, who are struggling to achieve their rights. In this political environment each group is struggling to achieve its aim without any systematic and tangible cooperation.
Their lack of unity has made the regime’s job, to suppress each group, easier without having to confront them. In turn, this has made progress towards a transition to democracy difficult.
Our solution calls for a systematic and intensive political dialogue to develop a common agenda; in order to build a broad based democratic opposition committed to democracy, federalism, the allowance for secularism, self determination, sovereignty, gender equality, as well as the freedom of religion and speech. Such a broad based opposition should make democracy, gender equality, secularism, republican federal system based on parity of constituent part as its ground values.
The Federal structure should put an end to all kind of discrimination against non-dominant nationalities. The commitment should accommodate nationalities right so that it can build their confidence that the new structure will end all discrimination them based on nationality and religion.
The majority of the political parties of non dominant nationalities have joined together to build the Congress of Nationality for a Federal Iran. It is the largest political entity in Iran. Some opposition groups among the Persian nationality have built several active organizations while other Persian groups have less active alliances; this indicates their different approaches and ideological differences.
All of these alliances will be ineffective if they do not find a common ground to unite. Building a broad based alliance is the biggest challenge for the liberal, democratic and social democratic forces in the opposition. Building this alliance is essential to give confidence to people to join to a popular and peaceful uprising against dictatorship and economical hardship that people are facing in Iran.
Although the various groups have different ideas on the scope of a federal system or how to adopt it to Iran’s particular situation, there are more similarities which make them natural allies against the current theocratic and absolutist regime in Iran. Each is committed to democracy, in the form of a liberal democratic system and some kind of federal structure, equality between genders and freedom of speech and religion.
The lack of culture of political discourse in Iran, in the absence of systematic dialog between different alliances, has caused suspicion among the groups regarding the ultimate aim of the other one. To overcome their suspicions and to build a viable democratic alliance, group representatives have to start a systematic dialogue in the form of conference with the joint resolution and a time frame to come to some understanding and a political framework which unites them in pursuit of a liberal democratic political system based on people sovereignty and self determination and a non-centralized power structure which accommodates non-dominate nationalities’ aspiration for shared sovereignty and self rule.
In conclusion, Iran as a multinational country, comprised of several nationalities, the democratic alliance should put the different nationalities on an equal footing. Together, they should decide upon the future of Iran and how to solve the chronic internal crisis brought about by successive dictatorships. To chart the future course of Iran and both encourage and strategize non-violent change towards a peaceful, stable and secure country and a democratic, secular civil society CNFI sees it as vital to strengthen relations among the various national and religious groups within Iran; to promote democracy, social justice, federalism, rule of law, human rights, equal rights for women and protection of the rights of all ethnic and religious minorities including Baha'is, Christians, Jews, and Sunnis.
Presented by Nasser Boladai
On behalf of Congress of Nationalities for a Federal Iran
At a meeting in the Swiss parliament 4th June 2009