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EYEWITNESS REPORT FROM IRAN

(Part I)

January 1995

"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.


INTRODUCTION:

brutally hung from cranes and were then shamelessly driven throughout the city.

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 abroad.

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" states that:

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" in Iran.

Another absurdity, is the hodge-podge rogue attempts of the so-called 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 Iran.

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 circulated newspapers.

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 maintaining 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 lawful 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' agents.

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 the population.

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 support.

 



 

 

 

 


 

 






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