April 8, 2009
Golmorad Moradi's conference contribution entitled "Democratization, Good Government and Building a Civil Society"
For a PDF copy of the speech in English,please click here.
For a PDF copy of the speech in Persian, please click here.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is an honour for me to be here for this Conference and to speak to you at the European Parliament. I would therefore like first to thank the European Parliamentarians, Mr. Capato, Mr. Pannella and also Mr. Busdachin, General Secretary of UNPO (Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization) and head of the CNFI (Congress of Nationalities for a Federal Iran), for granting me this honor.
Having heard today about the system of Federalism and how it can be instituted in Iran, we would like to discuss the questions of democracy, legal government of a country with several nationalities, and the building of a civil society. Therefore, the focus of my speech is about Democratization in a country in which fundamental human rights are by no means assured and may not even be publically discussed.
Unfortunately, in a country like Iran, whose leader has called “the freest land of the world”, such rights do not exist at all. The rulers of this country (quite) utterly ignore the elementary rights of humans, as well as of national and religious minorities in Iran. Opposition of every kind (even the Islamic opposition) is absolutely not tolerated under this regime. We are constantly saddened to here that those who merely express legitimate claims and demand their rights in a Peaceful manner are liable to be arrested, imprisoned, tortured and even sentenced to death, for example by stoning, hanging and so on. Meanwhile, hardly anyone is in a position to defend or help them. The most recent examples are the execution of one Yarsani in Uremia last month, and arrest of 7 Baha’i’s leaders in Shiraz and accuse them to be spy for Israel , the persecutions of Jewish, Christian and other religious minorities and Islamic Sufi‐ community. It should be mentioned that another Yarsani (Ahl‐e Haqq) is expected to be executed soon! Only because he stands by his point of view and defends his beliefs.
I hope international pressure will be put on the Iranian regime to stop it executing this young man. About 173 members of 1200 arrested Sufi‐Gonabadi are still in Iranian Jails. The regime has ordered the destruction of the Sufi ‐ community’s houses in Qom, Isfahan and Berougerd. As a matter of fact, we did not want to talk today about this injustices of the Iranian regime, but it is necessary to face the realities in this country in order to understand democracy in our world. We should find a way to solve such problems via reason and dialogue. That means we should find a key to open the door leading to civil society, democracy, democratization and good government.
I have been asked to speak about these topics. I will do my best to do so and answer your questions if you have any. Let me begin by defining each concept separately. What are the democracy and democratization that are more spoken about than practiced? As far as I know, the word derives from Ancient Greek and it means the free people ruling their own territories or the self‐determination of different nationalities in one country.
The standard definition of democracy is as follows: “Democracy is a form of government in which power is held directly or indirectly by citizens under a free electoral system. As I mentioned, it is derived from the Greek δημοκρατία [dimokratia] “. "Popular government” which was coined from δήμος (dēmos), "people" and κράτος (kratos), "rule, strength". Nevertheless, democracy is an instrument which gives us an opportunity to elect and rule or govern our society in the way of equality. To practice the democracy correctly, we need to be free, politically educated and a certain level of general education throughout society. Otherwise, there is the danger of tyranny and dictatorship. Human beings are free and this freedom cannot be taken away from someone or given to someone as a gift. In the shelter of freedom we can be well‐educated and discover the world of our environment. This freedom is part of the nature of human beings and it is part of the property of mankind. But we as humans have to live together; therefore we are free up to the point where the freedom of others begins.
Now we have to go back to the meaning of democracy. This word can be interpreted in different ways. Everyone tries to impose an ideological meaning on it. Here I would like to point out some of these definitions and find out why the interpretations are so different. Some conservative politicians, who believe in a centralized government, say that democracy is the rule of the majority. They do not care if the rights of minorities are injured. This means the minorities have to accept of this kind of democracy, even if the rule of the majority is not suitable to them. For this Government of the majority, is also not important how they obtain their majority in elections? ((It is an important questions for us, though, is´nt it?)) In this context, Jamshid Safapour, a Persian national wrote an article, “Definition of Democracy, their Instrument and the practicing of it”, in Washington prism containing the following sentence: “Every Democratic Government has been elected by the Majority, but any Government of Majority is not a Democratic one”. Because a government may attain power via election by a majority, but it then does not pay any attention to the rights of minorities. Therefore, we cannot speak about democracy in such a country under such a government.
Most conservatives believe that every government of a majority is a democratic government. They simplify the matter, and their political propaganda tries to appeal to nationalism: be loyal to a great Iran with a strong centralized government supported by the majority, while the minorities must obey and accept. Such false ideas and ways of thinking are a feature of conservatism. This Iranian Conservative opposition – besides their political propaganda for a central government and an Iran of only one nation – tries to compare the Shah regime in the past with the Islamic regime of today. Of course, the society of Iran under the Mullahs politically, economically and culturally has, as we know, been destroyed over the last 30 years, and the normal people would prefer a bad regime to a much worse regime. This is something that the Conservatives want to exploit to come to power and build up a central government; if they succeed, surely it will create a new dictator, which they may even wish for. Sometimes we ask ourselves if there is any genuine democracy on our earth.
The answer is certainly yes, but there are still hundreds of problems to be solved in even the most democratic country in this world. Doubtlessly, it has happened in past and sometimes today that in the most democratic system the rights of some people in some cases have been infringed. But generally (in such a case), most human rights are respected. If there are some cases of people being wronged, they can have recourse to legal protections to fight for their rights and a reversal of the mistake. As we heard this morning and you, Ladies and Gentlemen, may know more about it, that for hundreds of years six different nationalities (Persian, Azeri, Kurds, Blotch, Turkmen and Arab) live in Iran: each of them with a separate language, different cultures, traditions and (even different) faiths.
In the recent history of Iran, two (2) main reasons meant that there was no place for democracy in this country of different nationalities. First of all, there were not enough chances and opportunity for the development of the consciousness of people to know or to be aware of their own rights. Therefore, they didn’t fight for their rights constantly. Second, because of this first reason, dictatorial thinking was able to conquer the ruling of the country. As result of this, all of nationalities in this country, even the majority of ruling nation, was under pressure and could not have any rights. Meanwhile, as we know and see, the world and human beings on this earth are continuing to develop, and fortunately no‐one can stop this process.
Therefore, one can say happily that reason and dialog have almost defeated force and violence. Now raises the question of how can we reach a real democracy in Iran, so that this country becomes a part of modern civil society? We can do this very simply if we as human beings try to be satisfied with our own rights and not more. Of course if we want to be better than others and think that we are better! And for example, try to bring other ethnic groups by force under our rule; so, we will never see the shelter of democracy in our country.
There are some leaders of a small group of opposition and the most rulers in Iran who try to propagate the view that each movement of nationality groups who use political struggle to achieve elementary rights for themselves are separatists who want to divide the country!! The representatives of such thinking do not want to try to understand that each human and nation should have their own rights. But they always talk about freedom and democracy without thinking that democracy without the equal rights for all nations does not work.
They try to define the meaning of the ethnological words incorrectly; only because they want to prove their own theory for a special purpose. Certainly, these distances us from the realities and we are still far away from democracy.
As I mentioned before, the simple definition of most Conservatives for democracy is that, democracy is the rule of the majority in one country. How this majority is reached is not too important and whether the rights of minorities are respected or not also do not matter; if they do not accept the mode of ruling of this majority, this is also not so important! We have to see that the only open way for us to be able to reach a free and a democratic society in Iran is the path of federalism and no other. Federalism as we heard would also function well if we respect equal rights for each individual in our society, otherwise we will return our country to dictatorship. According to the international standard definition of ethnics, nationalities and other words about society, I have to say that democracy and civil society (equal rights between the people and nations) cannot exist in Iran if all nationalities do not have equal rights.
By this, I mean economic, cultural, political and social equality. This would be quite natural, if Iran was like, for example, Greece, England and Italy, or another country containing only one nation. Democracy with a central government can then function perfectly. It is for me beyond doubt that democracy without federalism with several nationalities cannot function in Iran. If anybody tries to establish democracy in Iran without federalism, it will surely end in a dictatorship. Then, the rights of other nations would be disregarded.
This means that if one tries to establish a central government, one language, one culture, one tradition and one mode of education, this is sure to end in absolutism. Unfortunately some opposition to the Islamic regime follows the way of dictatorship and I believe all of the people of different nations show resistance to such as Idea.
In order to achieve the goal of the struggle for democracy and Federalism in Iran, the following policies should be adopted:
(1) To establish a genuine federal system in Iran with 6 Nations.
(2) To guarantee democratic rights, political equality, and self‐determination for all nationalities of Iran.
(3) To build a firm unity of all nationalities in the federal system based on the principles of equality and justice.
(4) To promote the development of all member states of Iranian Federalism.
(5) To abolish all types of totalitarianism in Iran.
(6) To establish internal peace through dialogue
Good Government: A democratic government exists when the majority of citizens in a free country have elected a government respecting the rights of every individual, and all national and religious minorities. A government is not legal or democratic only because it has been chosen by the majority. It is democratic if, as mentioned above, it respects all rights of others. There are several points that distinguish a democratic government.
Building a Civil Society: In daily discussion about civil society, each group or person gives a different definition of the term. One believes that the building of a civil society is the result of the function of good government, in which it realizes his program to protect freedom, provide free education for all and social security for the citizens and maintain peace in the area. Another believes that after we have learned to be a Democrat, it will be possible to create a civil society, which we can then educate the citizens and establish good government. This point which I believe on it, should be another discussion subject. Recently, the results of a conference about the role of civil society in transferring democracy to the Middle East were published in Washington Prism. In this conference, several participating American scientists were interviewed. Eva Blain, a lecturer at Hunting College New York, said that “clearness, patient, responsibility and avoidance of aggression and roughness are the compilers of civil society, in which they have decided a role of transfer this to a democratic society”. These can we obtain through schools and education. She believes that the process of civil society is the beginning of self‐ Determination, democratization and good government.
Democratization of Iran: Now what can we do that the undemocratic situation of Iran changes itself to a democratic system? I believe that the first step towards democratization is the building of civil society. Democratization is a process during which the leaders of the country, as I explained before, would learn the real meaning of democracy, unity and the Good Government take over the rule of the Country.
As Jamshid Safapour said in the above mentioned article: “Today we see that under the circumstances of dictatorship the thinking of learning democracy is stronger than before. The Voice of February Revolution of (1979) in Iran and the World transformations and changes brought the Iranian intellectuals so much experience that they realized they must learn to be a democrat and then try for the democratization of society. This is one hundred percent true, the Iranian intellectuals should be equipped with the weapon of democracy, and then they can bring democratic thinking to society. The modern world today created modern technology and we can obtain information through the Internet. I believe that the process of democratization has become much easier than before through modern technology.
I am very sorry to say that sometimes in some parts of the world which tyranny and Dictator rules, with the aim of realizing of democratization, one has to use physical force, as American Government has done and still does in some countries.
Unfortunately they have not achieved many positive results and if this process continues, they will get even more negative results, as we see in Afghanistan and Iraq.
It would be much better if in these countries the Military tried not to be brutal and rough towards normal People. Such behaviour and revenge leads to more hatred and hostility towards the foreigners in their countries. Mohammad Tahouri, a journalist of Washington Prism interviewed Dr. Ali Banuaziz , another university professor. In this interview, the emphasis was on the opinion and point of view of American experts, in which the American government propagated democracy against terrorism. He advised American leaders: “It might in the short time the attack of American Forces to these Countries brings prejudicial (injurious), but in long terms it would bring beneficial.” Here I have to mention that if brutality and aggression are applied for a good aim or goal, it brings certain hostility and hate against the aggressor.
I believe so long the Democratization is not full ended, the hostility against this aggressor remains. Professor Banuaziz continued that: “the wrong structure (in these countries), the historical background, the long term ruling of dictatorship and the cultural problems are the main obstacle (keeping back) of the democratization in the Middle East. Why, because the authorities of dictators are still in power and they use the religion as an instrument against the democracy”.
For this reason, dictatorship, Fanatic´s thinking and brutality are very, very dangerous factors against the development of democracy. The only way to settle down the problem is the extension of education in society.
Heidelberg, March 30th 2009