Thursday, 4 February 2010

Campaign Iran, with Ansari, German and Fathollah-Nejad

Campaign Iran held another event titled 'Iran: What Lies Ahead? The Movement, Sanctions and the West' on Wednesday 3 February, 2010, at Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church in London.

The turn out was less than their
SOAS event last year; yet it was just as flared and firey, with more speeches coming from members of the audience than the panelists. Unfortunately the majority of the hecklers, and the Panelists, with the exception of Professor Ali Ansari, presented black and white arguments on the situation in Iran. They focused more on the problems with sanctions, and how the international community should not, nor have the right to, interfere in Iran's affairs.

Lindsey German, droned on repetitively on how evil the USA is, and how one must do everything in their power to boycott imperialist governments. Some may argue that she could have a point; however, she digressed many times from Iran - the focus of the event. A number of members of the audience could be heard objecting that she was exploiting the problem in Iran in order to further her own agenda of waving the stick at the West. German argued emotionally and without substantiated content that the international community has no right to get involved in any country's affairs; she further expressed her resentment of the existence of the international community. However, she ignorantly argued that the Germans had supported Hitler not because they agreed with him but because they were united in standing against the bombings of the 'international commuity'!

There are two obvious flaws in German's arguments: Firstly, if the international community has no right to intervene, then Hitler would not have been stopped, he would not have been defeated, and we could have been living in a Nazi-Europe with no Jews or non-Aryans because he would have slaughtered every last one. Thank goodness the international community did intervene! Secondly, how much more ignorant can one be in maintaining that the Germans supported Hitler simply because they were being bombed by outside forces?

Mr Ali Fathollah-Nejad presented the history of Iran spanning from at least the start of the twentieth century. He held some valid points in illustrating how Iran had succumbed to the influence, if not the dictates, of the British government throughout the eras. However, his support for the non-involvement of the international community, and no sanctions in any form present a black and white argument, limited by absolutes. He focused too much on sanctions that had crippled the Iranian nations since the last twenty years; yet he failed to address the fact that during such sanctions, the Iranian people protested against their government. He failed to address that the current threat of international action is purely over the nuclear issue, when it should be for a higher cause - the violations of international human rights law.

Professor Ali Ansari presented an eloquent, coherent and robust account on the propaganda injected into the world by the treacherous IRI authorities, such as the bogus claims that the votes were electronic, when in fact they were not; that the three million protestors were a bunch of northern Tehran 'rich kids', to which Professor Ansari expressed that either Iran inhabits an incredible abundance of wealthy people for there to be three million of them in one section of its city, or that they were not all rich and middle class. He further expressed that there are no classes or divisions in Iran other than the distinction between those who are in power and those who are oppressed. The good Professor highlighted that the government in Iran are far from religious, given that many Muslims are protesting against the government for breaching codes of conduct and practice in Islam, and that they are idolators and inciting idolatry by hypocritically attacking the Shah for being worshipped by his people pre-1979 revolution, and yet the IRI have made some sort of unquestionable holy figure out of the current 'Supreme Leader', Ali-Khamenei!

Question and answers was the next round, which set off enough fireworks to evoke the envy of Guy Fawkes. I was first to present my question, in which I provided a mini speech in building up to the question in mind. I addressed the Panel's arguments that there should be no foreign interference, nor sanctions in Iran with the following argument:

I agreed, to a degree, that no state should meddle with another state's sovereignty. However, there are international laws that have been legislated to protect and promote the basic human rights of men, women and children. When such laws are persistently violated over the last thirty years, it is evident that written letters of condemnation from the United Nations does not serve to deter the IRI authorities from perpetrating further violations of human rights. In domestic law, when one commits a crime, they are answerable to it and the state's penal code metes out the necessary punishment/action in an attempt to serve justice. The same can and should be applied to broken international human rights laws. It is the duty of the international community - which, for Ms German's information, does not consist only of USA and Britain, but countries across the world, from 'West' to East - to enforce the laws it helped legislate to protect the people in every state.

It is not sufficient to say one 'supports' freedom and human rights in Iran, words are empty without effective follow-through. When one looks to impose sanctions, it should be sanctions that specifically target the authorities, such as freezing their millions held in foreign banks, or imposing travel bans and other measures of coercive diplomacy. Furthermore, on the note of sanctions, the international community can endorse indirect strategies in pressuring the IRI, such as endorsing coercive diplomacy measures against China and Russia, for providing the IRI with anti-protest tanks and brutal interrogation technique tutorials, respectively. This would serve to act as constructive measures against the IRI and other 'wannabe' international human rights law criminals.

The problem at present is that Iran will not bow down easily to international threats over the nuclear issue, given that many Iranians as well as the government officials can robustly argue that it is the nation's right to have nuclear energy, given other countries have it. What would distinguish the freedom-seeking people of Iran from their criminal government, and equip the people with morale would be to impose threats of coercive diplomacy for violations of human rights laws. This will have the effect of rightfully prioritizing human rights above nuclear/political issues, rendering the pressure justified and inescapable by offending governments. This would, then, send out an unequivocal message to countries that human rights violations will not be tolerated. I asked Professor Ansari, for the benefit of the panel and audience, whether he felt that the international community had a role and duty to 'intervene' on such grounds.

After collecting a list of questions from the audience, and having a few people present speeches of hate or condemnation against the 'West' and arguing that the "CIA doctored the middle-class rich kids' protests to stir unrest in the region", rather than present any type of questions, the panel commenced answering.

In addressing my question, Professor Ansari agreed with my points, adding that human rights should be protected by whatever means necessary. In addressing the earlier hecklers' accusation that to advocate any form of sanction is war-mongering, he presented the audience with a stark reality to contrast against their meditations: 'we argue against sanctions or tough action by the international community; however, what should/would we do if there is a massacre next week during the revolution's anniversary when more people take to the streets to further protest against their oppressive and brutal government? Sanctions targeting the government(s) or tough action by the international community would be a 'must', as no form of sanction or action could be worse than the constant slaughter, rape and violation of human rights of the people endured for decades.

In complaint, it must be expressed that the organizers of the event took every opportunity to express their own views without honouring the rules of 'question and answers' that they imposed on the members of the audience. They discouraged people from heckling their points or giving speeches instead of questions, yet, without consent from the panel or the audience they interjected their statements in-between people being told to "put a sock in it" for heckling.

Nevertheless, my gratitude extends to the organizers of such an event, Mr Dominic Kavakeb and his team, 'Campaign Iran', for providing such an opportunity to engage in heated debate and the exchange of information and ideas. I encourage all to attend any of such events, even if hosted by groups whose mandate is not agreeable with, given that the best way to contribute to a positive change is through discourse and education.


  1. Mehrtash, I could not address this any better than your so called "Mini Speech"
    The problem we are facing in Iran, is that all the major economies and industries of scale either completely or mainly is controlled and owned by the state, and main employer is the government so to speak is a total socialist country without the name.
    So it is hard to target sanctions at the government without hurting the common people.
    But as you have demonstrated in your argument in order to stop the evil machinery of the Nazi's some major damage was done to the country and so many innocent lives of children were lost. I hope that without arriving to those limits we could get rid of human rights abuses and atrocities in Iran.
    I think you are on the right track by suggesting and recommending the types of sanctions that you propose either on Iran or Russia and China for supplying Iran the means.
    I would like to see that all the Iranian Ambassadors and chief consulates to be sent back to Iran, and every embassy to be reduced in staff and all the ambassadors of the free nations to be called from Iran in addition to what you recommended.

  2. sovereignty is a made up concept, human suffering is not

  3. I wonder what they would say about the Vietnamese who invaded Cambodia and stopped Pol Pot. At the end of the day these are not the issue with Campaign Iran and I am not sure why you are thanking this Kavakabian rich spoiled SWP member. Th eissue is here is a bunch of self hating arm chair revolutionary rich kids who have never been in a revolution trying to lecture us on what we should do.

    Also did they have Press TV like last time?

  4. Thank you Mr Mobasseri; your arguments on the global closure of Iranian embassies and transfer of staff is an interesting one, and worth entertaining.

    Wise words, Cynical Child.

    Azarmehr - Press TV were not present, nor were any known cameras.

  5. Mehrtash jan had I known you were there I would have said hi or something, I was also present at this meeting. Typical CASMII tbh.