Iran: Fighter for Others’ Rights, Crusher at Home

It is a paradox of the political landscape of the Middle East that while a virtually failed state like Iran tends to take up the cause of the people in its neighbourhood – and even far away Yemen – for freedom, democracy and rights, no traces of these elements are to be found in its own political elixir.

The mullahs and the ayatollahs in Iran have been backing the ’cause’ of their co-religionists in Bahrain angling for regime change and have found warmth and companionship in the bosom of the Qatari renegades of the Gulf Cooperation Council to serve their purpose.

Yemen has been virtually destroyed by their machinations with a democratically-elected government there staring at war-ravaged swathes even as it tries to put some sanity into the chaos of governance. And where it finds it inconvenient to intervene directly, Iran deploys the Hezbollah cadre to generate insurgency and mayhem until its purpose is served.

But its bluff of being a nation that upholds the torch of democracy and where women feel safe wrapped in their chadors has been called by its own people – students and women, old and young. Since December there has been little respite for the authorities there with protests varying in intensity spreading across no less than 140 cities; the countryside is seething and burning. Nothing new there though. Remember, back in 1994 the mullahs had crushed an uprising in Qazvin by launching rockets on the protesters.

global basij terrorist network.
Mohammad Ali Jafari, IRGC commander, announces global basij terrorist network

The Preacher Needs Lessons

With 8,000 arrests and more than 50 demonstrators killed in custody since December according to the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) it has been exposed as a state that needs basic lessons in rights and freedoms rather than preaching them to others, as it has been doing for decades to Bahrain.

More so when the news has come in that the BBC is going to appeal to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva against Iran for harassing its London-based Persian service staff and their families back home with threats, intimidation, arrests and travel bans. And it’s been going on since 2009 when the channel raised questions over the then presidential elections which had also resulted in a long round of public protests and the consequent deaths.

The Internet is another casualty whenever the protests soar. It is already restricted but cutting it off altogether is another tactic employed by the government. The last straw for the rulers to discipline the horde!

In addition to the NCRI there is its constituent group the People’s Mujahedin of Iran and of course independently of them women consist of another faction which has been paying a major role in the protests in groups and even in ones and twos in well-publicised instances.

Fox News in a report has quoted one of the protesters as saying: “We are like a wave – we come back even stronger, and the Iranian people want regime change. There is no going back.”

So that’s the true face of Iran. While its cloak-and-dagger minions go about promoting the idea of regime change in other countries, there seems to be a regime change in the offing in its own hall of audience.

Brij Sharma is an Indian journalist and editor based in Bahrain. Brij tells us the interesting stories we don’t usually hear from the middle east country.