EYEWITNESS REPORT FROM IRAN
"Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered, yet we
have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the
more glorious the triumph."
Thomas Paine - Pamphleteer (A.D. 1737-1809)
Editor's Note: In January of 1995, Focus on Iran
published the eyewitness accounts of an Iranian who had earned
his Ph.D. in Sociology and Political Science and, was returning
to his country after 14 years of living in Europe. Now, after
his second trip, having spent several months traveling the country,
he has provided Focus on Iran with another insightful report.
The following is a translation of that report in a two part series.
brutally hung from cranes and were then shamelessly driven throughout
This report will not focus on the incredible price of bread,
and the ongoing talks about removing its subsidy which will bring
the price of a loaf of bread to its true price of 1,000 Rials.
In the like manner, the runaway prices of other essentials such
as meat, potato and medicine, will not be the center of our attention.
Neither will the comments uttered by Rafsanjani, whom in the true
scientific sense of the word, is considered by the people to be
suffering from melancholia, be the subject of our review. The
reason for such an approach, is that after my return to Europe,
I sensed vividly that these facts are well known and conunonplace
among the entire community of expatriates. This report discusses
and puts its focus on issues less concentrated on by the Iranians
THE PERSISTENCE OF ECONOMIC PARALYSIS:
After another two years in Europe, I made a second trip to Iran
with the following as my observations. In this analysis, aside
from my oven experience, I have made use of two individuals whom
apparently are still considered as the security officials of the
regime but, for all intents and purposes, view themselves as detached
from the ruling clique. It is for that very reason that certain
segments of this report have gone beyond the scope of an itinerary
and contain some analytical views. Insofar as the current situation
in Iran, my report will not concentrate on issues such as its
crippled economy, its rampant inflation, and the imbecilic theatrical
show which some refer to as the "free elections". It
will not focus on the recent uprisings in Bonab, Isfahan and Tabriz,
despite the fact that in the latter, aside from hundreds of people
who had been detained and imprisoned, nine youngsters were
The seemingly incurable ailment of "economic anarchy"
is still taking its toll in Iran. The greedy minority who has
ties with the upper echelon of the regime, does not even think
twice about slowing down its rate of pillage. Their bottomless
pockets and the pockets of other main hoarders, who incidentally
have close ties also to the ruling clerics and are basking in
the rise of foreign currencies, could never be filled.
It is ironic that when 32 million people live below the poverty
line (Jameh-Salem, Tehran Monthly-November 1991), a roundtable
discussion by economists from Tehran University; entitled: "Present
problems and bottlenecks of the economic situation in Iran"
950 families alone have a total liquid , of more than 150 trillion
Rials. (in excess of $US 50 billion). The same sources say that
more than 90% of the liquidity of the banking system belongs to
a mere 1% (one percent) of the depositors.
Multiple shifts of heavy labor, harlotry, sellings one's organs
(i.e. kidneys), bribery; theft and banditry, dying of paltry diseases
due to the gross inadequacies and shortcomings of the health facilities,
and finally the horrific rates of suicide along with the rampant
use of pain-killers have become "par for the course"
Another absurdity, is the hodge-podge rogue attempts of the
Central Bank in printing un-backed currency at the behest of the
government. As if this method is not cancerous enough, banks ,%finch
these days lack any large currency, have been instructed and in
fact sanctioned to print their own travelers' checks. Some are
circulating these checks in notes ranging from 5000 to 100,000
tomans and even larger, which in turn add fuel to the existing
economic inferno. In essence, bank managers in Iran, even in its
remotest locations, have instantly become "money printers".
THE SUPPORTERS OF THE REGIME:
In order to get an idea of the extent of the supporters of the
regime, I merely need to point out the following. As it has become
the none, one night when some youngsters were busy writing death
slogans to Rafsanjani and Khamenei on the walls, one of the neighbors
phones the Revolutionary Guards, informing them of the event.
Despite the fact that this happened in a busy populated street,
everyone knew who the caller was (singular not plural). This is
a true gauge of the level of support. In every neighborhood, they
could be counted with the fingers of one hand. The golden age
when nearly all the war combatants, along .with the families of
the martyred soldiers constituted the ranks of those who adamantly
supported the regime, is over. The rising levels of suicide amongst
those who were maimed and handicapped in the 8 year war .with
Iraq, and the continuous quarrels and arguments of other veterans
Nvith the officials of the "Foundation for the Oppressed
and the Self-Sacrificers" - (Bonyade Mostazafan va Janbazon)
which has incidentally
forced it to employ its own security agents, investigators and
torturers, attest to the levels of disgruntled masses.
The regime is no longer capable to arouse and gather the
populace for supportive demonstrations and the so-called
popularity shows. A large group of those who participate in
events such as the anniversary of the Revolution on February
11th, are bussed and brought to
Tehran, with all expenses paid, from all corners of Iran. Ironically,
and despite the fact that Tehran is a metropolis of 14 million
people, the participants do not even amount to 1% of the city's
inhabitants. These "all expense paid" vacation / bus
tours are exempt from the usual watchful eye of the regime's agents
on the roads, thus affording some of these "pious believers"
the convenience of carrying all sorts of paraphernalia, ranging
from narcotics to playing cards and liquor. The sudden rate of
decline in the price of such merchandise is vividly noticeable
in Tehran, immediately after processions such as February 11th.
When the regime resorts to other tactics such as declaring that
participating in demonstrations in support of the Moslems in Bosnia-Herzegovina,
constitutes a religious duty, it is still forced to schedule such
shows on a Friday, two hours prior to the mass prayer session
(which itself is suffering from the same malady of human support)
so that the "believers" do not have to dispense any
extraordinary effort other than simply showing up a bit earlier.
Today in Iran, instead of an increasing rate of support for the
government, the children of the Revolutionary Guard Commanders
are being kidnapped and contrary to the regime's efforts in concealing
these facts, some details have already leaked out. The hirelings
of the regime working outside of Iran, are openly nervous about
the situation of their relatives in Iran who are considered as
the lackeys of the mullahs. Many of these fellows working overseas,.
refuse to return to Iran when they are invited to do so. The rate
of such refusals will indeed rise in the near future. To finish
this segment, I would like to mention another example: during
the recent uprisings in Tabriz, which according to the official
statements of its governor in the Salam daily newspaper, was a
full fledge political demonstration and ended up in the arrest
of hundreds of individuals and the execution of nine youngsters,
20 to 30,000 people had symbolically wrapped themselves up in the
white winding sheets used in funeral processions. On the other
hand, on 25th of May, the most ardent supporters of the regime,
the "Companions of Hezbollah", backed by all the might
the regime could muster, including a "card blanche"
for their activity and the mass transit at their disposal, did
not amount to more than 4,000 hoodlums who gathered at the "
Vali Asr" square. Amazingly enough, this figure is an official
admission of the regime.
REMAINING IN POWER THROUGH THE SOPHISTRY OF THE REGIME'S AGENTS:
The deadened reached by the clerics' regime, in solving or
alleviating the numerous internal problems which has roots in their incompetence,
has forced them to shamelessly resort to terrorist activities
outside of Iran. These vile methods, are quite unlike the early
days of the Revolution, when the export of the ideology, was supported.
Today, even the rhetoric uttered for "local consumption"
has lost its market, much less the shameless murders which are
committed purely for the sole purpose of eliminating all the opposing
voices and thus creating the false impression in the international
community that even their tacit backing of the democratically
minded opposition groups would remain fruitless and that the mullahs
will not tolerate am , other representation for the future of
Today, there is even talk about omitting Shiite prayer phrases
such as "Ali is a friend of the Almighty - Aliyyan vali ollah"
in order to ease the infiltration of their heretic revolutionary
version of Islam amongst the neighboring countries \pith predominantly
Sunni populace. What is ironic is that such hints are uttered
by the loud mouths of Hezbollah in Qom along with some highly
Meadville, creating havoc and disorder in the Middle East, especially
in light of the recent Arab-Israeli peace process, constitutes
a major part of die short-sighted policies of the mullahs. Suffice
it to say that in this regard, the most recent adventure is Yasser
Arafat's disclosure of a plot to assassinate him, which was meant
to be carried out by a Palestinian group trained and funded by
the clerics in Tehran.
Yet another cause of anxiety for the clerics in Tehran, is the
aftermaths of the bombing raids of Israel in Lebanon. The detestation
of the Lebanese government and people from the abject modus operandi
of the clerics in turning their soil into an infested pool of
terrorist activities, and the fact that tire Western flank of
the mullahs in Lebanon could be effectively amputated through
the assistance of the European governments, has totally preoccupied
the minds of the Khomeinist fanatics in Tehran.
It is under such circumstances, that the mullahs are nervously
pursuing to fill in the future gap of their un-welcomed and belligerent
interferences in the international affairs, with some sort of a
contention at the borders of Iran to divert attention from their
internal incompetence. Such options might include a military confrontation
tithe the Taleban in Afghanistan, the flaming of differences
with the Azerbaijan Republic or even Turkey. Insofar as the
three Iranian islands in the Persian Gulf perhaps due to the
presence of the U.S. forces, the regime has opted to merely
increase the volume of its slogans rather than its actions. It
is not surprising that the subject of Iran's territorial
integrity has resurfaced these days. The same so-called
well-wishers of Iran
\vho drununed up this argument right after the miserable failure
of Rafsanjani's "economic moderation" during the early
1990's, are no\ti; and as a consequence of the economic sanctions
imposed by the U.S., shedding tears for the dire threat of Iran's
disintegration, albeit \tiith the same old twist of disclosing
the grand secrets of "a future nefarious scheme" planned
by U.S. and Israel.
These sound bites, get further camouflaged, when they are quoted
from certain opposition sources, who are none other than the shameless
hirelings of the mullahs, who try to portray the future unnecessary
conflicts at the borders of Iran, as a nationalist reaction meant
to nullify the machination of the "Great Satan" who
wishes to witness the disintegration of Iran. Perhaps, the return
of the golden "nag free" era of war, wherein many opposition
leaders reminded the populace of the priority of defending the
motherland, is the true short-term goal.
In the internal arena, the regime is also quite active in
its posture. Regularly. it dispatches groups consisting of security
agents of the Intelligence Ministry, and members of the Intelligence
sector of the Revolutionary Guards, to various cities and provinces,
in order to conduct what they refer to as "justificaztional
meetings" with the local Commanders of the Armed Forces and
Security officials. The intent of these missions is to falsely
convey the message that they themselves are not blindly supporting
the failures of the mullahs, but in order to secure and safeguard
the well-being of their family and their belongings, they , are
left \with no option other than alleviating their future prosecutors
through collective and cooperative repressive measures of all
the security agents. The provoking factor for these meetings,
has been the refraining and the lack of interest expressed by
the Armed Forces in quelling the recent uprisings.
It is vital for the regime's opposition leadership to prove to
those who have and are serving their nation in military uniforms
and who have had no role in the killings and bloodshed ordered
by the mullahs, that ridding Iran from the current cancerous regime,
is by no means the equivalent of a de-facto massacre. In reality
only those whose heinous crimes are proven to - a dignified
court, worthy of a national government, would be the subject of
reprimand. It is obvious that every nation naturally needs its
Armed Forces. On the other hand, the Intelligence Ministry has
been for long, involved in combating the disgruntled public through
various tactics. The psychological rumors which, in the long run
serve only the interest of the ruling clique, is an example of
such rnethods. Today, it is quite apparent for the people of Iran
that the originator of the following platitude remarks are none
other than the agents of the Intelligence Ministry:
"we have had a revolution once and we have seen its consequences,
we certainly don't want another one which might make things even
worse"... "when a mullah grabs hold of something, he
would never let go of it" ... "if these mullahs are
gone, someone worse will fill in their shoes"... "the
enemies of this regime are the enemies or Islam"...
In fact, the truly pious Moslems, were among the first group
of people who criticized the heretic policies of the current regime
and did not hesitate to point out that the leading fanatics were
simply abusing religion and the public's religious sentiments,
as means to reach and sanctify their vile end. This notion goes
as far back as the government of Bazargan.
Another method often used is to stress the contrast between the
Iranians abroad and inside in order to create an unrealistic perception
that all those outside of Iran are aloof and indifferent to the
issues inside. The fact remains that all Iranians, both inside
and outside, continue to suffer in their own way from the incompetence
and miserable persistence of the ruling mullahs.
Infiltrating in the ranks of the opposition abroad, is yet another
method used by the security agents of the mullahs which has been
a costly endeavor for them. In this regard they have gone as far
as granting a profitable contract for remodeling of their Consulate
building in Paris, to a relative of the ex-President Abol Hassan
Bani-Sadr, who happens to be the latter's body-guard also. This
could be a stamp of approval for the "behavior modification"
shown by the ex-President, via his regular weekly phone contacts
with Hassan Habibi, the current vice-President. Aside from this
example, the Intelligence Ministry is determined to absorb nullify
or even eliminate all the opposition voices at all costs, including
those who have not yet managed to organize themselves. The idea
is certainly not to get them extradited to Iran, rather to have
them continue their criticism in the form of nagging as long as
they simultaneously attack the real opposition also, creating
the impression that the current leaders of the opposition are
as morally abject as the mullahs in Iran and basically not worthy
of any self-sacrifice from the people.
It must be noted that the Intelligence Ministry has infiltrated
into a large number of so-called opposition newspapers abroad,
along with a significant number of "cultural associations".
This influence has reached such levels that many of these entities,
including some of the more widely circulated newspapers, could
not even operate without the financial backing of the mullahs'
In order to paralyze the opposition, these entities, resort to
two tactics: 1) they are to attack the most likely opposition
figure to succeed who also happens to have the most number of
followers, while covering their track through a mild form of criticism
of the current regime. 2) they are to organize various meetings,
seminars and symposiums which only serve to distract the minds
of the attendants to less
than vital issues. In short, the primary goal is to divert the
efforts of those opposing the rule of the mullahs from the fundamental
notion that the cure to all these maladies is the replacement
of the clerics themselves.
People in Iran, especially the youngsters, asked whether people
like me ever wondered about the extent of the activity of the
regime's agents in providing free transportation, boarding, and
free attendance for such gatherings, meetings and feasts. They
wanted to know if Iranian expatriates, ever wonder where the funds
for such seminars are coming from.
Recently, in a similar gathering in Europe a young fellow put
the same question to me again, namely whether the financial backing
for the symposium was provided by the regime itself When I questioned
his line of thinking, he said: "do you not see that they
used a thousand and one reasons to avoid the real issue of toppling
the current regime. Do you not see how they harp on archaic issues
of the yore. Is it not true that in order to reach the ultimate
peak in a mountain range one ought not to overly distract oneself
with sight seeing. How was the gathering here any different from
a sight seeing vacation?"
The most valuable resource in combating the current regime, namely
the youth, especially the ones inside Iran, see no future for
themselves. They have correctly identified those who have brought
about the current economic havocs, which in turn has trampled
their chances for a bright future. Their expectation from those
who claim to oppose the current tyranny, is to direct the sharp
edge of their sword solely in the direction of the current benighted
rulers for the primary purpose of replacing it. We ought not to
forget that the people in Iran have become quite poetically oriented
throughout these years.
In its early days, to portray a progressive facade for itsel~
the regime conducted a vast number of gatherings which even in
its parochial format of Friday prayers, coupled with the relative
freedom enjoyed by the publishing houses, served to politicize
We ought not overlook this fact in light of the people's relative
silence which is due to a lack of leadership in the ranks of the
opposition on one hand and, the brutal reactionary nature of the
mullahs on the other.
The lack of a strong leadership, one that could successfully
utilize the greatest resource of our nation, namely its youth,
who constitute more than half the population, has afforded the
regime the luxury of an intense control over the opposition forces
inside, wfilile neutralizing elements outside through institutions
run by its hirelings abroad and other means of sophistry mentioned
earlier which aid its nuserable existence, despite any popular