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Liberal Iranian
Liberal as in Liberty and Freedom. Iranian as in Cyrus and Ferdowsi.
Friday, October 05, 2007
Hypocrisy and Human Rights
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Akbar Ganji, the Iranian dissident who spent 6 years in jail and more than 2 months on hunger strike, has written a letter to the UN Secretary General, endorsed by more than 300 intellectuals. In it, he appeals for the human rights in Iran. But he also uses the opening half of the letter to criticize America's policy in the region, writing for instance:
The Bush Administration, for its part, by approving a fund for democracy assistance in Iran, which has in fact being largely spent on official institutions and media affiliated with the US government, has made it easy for the Iranian regime to describe its opponents as mercenaries of the US and to crush them with impunity. At the same time, even speaking about "the possibility" of a military attack on Iran makes things extremely difficult for human rights and pro-democracy activists in Iran.
A Reuters correspondent, Alistair Lyon, informs us that similar opinions are shared by other activitst in the region. We read that
"(U.S.) money is not going to help the democratization process here," said Ebrahim Yazdi, Iran's first post-revolution foreign minister and leader of the banned Freedom Movement.
and that
"The United States has lost a lot of its credibility on human rights because of Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and renditions," said Nadim Houry of the U.S.-based Human Rights Watch group.

But are these true? Has America lost its credibility with Mr. Yazdi or Mr. Ganji? That question supposes that these people once believed the US was a credible force of good and now they don't. But did they? In reality, the answer is no! These same people, long before "Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and renditions," indeed long before George Bush Sr. and Jr. were ever in power, were hostile to the US. Mr. Ganji joined at a young age in a revolution whose mantra was "we crush the US!" and took more than a decade to go through a change of heart about its worth. Mr. Yazdi is a subtler type: while he and his cohorts in the Freedom Movement decry political repressions in Iran, they were happy to take power in the revolution that ousted their once close friend and last Prime Minister of the Shah, Shapour Bakhtiar of the National Front (a true believer in freedom), and that eventually assassinated him in exile in Paris. They are simply failed politicians after regaining their lost power.

Old habits are hard to kick.

Perhaps it is easy and convenient to blame our shortcomings on outside powers and expect them to be saints who uphold our rights and act for our freedoms even more steadfastly than we do ourselves. But the fact of the matter is that Iranian (and other Mideast) activists have consistently made far more serious mistakes and are far more responsible for their conditions than any outside power. The constant blaming of the US, whether to distance themselves from the West for domestic reasons or to please their idelogical prejudices, is just another one of those mistakes.

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