By: Nir Boms and Shayan Arya
Iran appears to have its own version of “fool’s day.” Earlier this month, the Islamic regime celebrated April 1st day by commemorating the referendum that established the Islamic regime in Iran 32 years ago.
A 1979 referendum indeed took place although it is clear that very few Iranians knew at the time what they were precisely voting for. Thirty two years later, there is little doubt about what an Islamic regime means – but a referendum that might reverse course is nowhere near the Iranian horizon. For 32 years, it was the language of hate, intimidation and fear that replaced that of the ballots. But votes can be cast in different ways and in Iran, like in other places in the Middle East, the people are speaking again.
The republic of fear is omnipresent in Iran, and it’s holy enough to go just about everywhere. Mr. Mir Ismail Moussavi, the father of Mir Hussein Moussavi, one of the prominent reformist and green movement leaders, died last week at the age the 103. His funeral became yet another opportunity for the Islamic regime to punish his prominent son who is under house arrest along with his family. Moussavi’s body was forcefully taken away from his family by security forces on its way to the cemetery while mourners and family members who protested were beaten. Mir Ismail was a cousin and a colleague of the Supreme leader of the Islamic regime Ayatollah Khamenei – but pedigree, it seems, makes little difference these days.
It wasn’t the first time that the Islamic regime had stolen a corpse of one of its opponents during funeral processions. In 2001, the corpse of Grand Ayatollah Muhammad Shirazi – also a well known critic of the regime – was stolen by plain clothed security officers during his funeral and was buried in secret. Members of his family and his followers who dared to protest were also beaten and harassed.
In 1989, in a very well known and documented case, nearly 10,000 political prisoners were summarily executed and buried in mass graves. The families and loved ones of the victims of this crime have been harassed at different times to this day. As if this wasn’t enough, two years ago the mass graves of their loved ones in Khavaran were bulldozed over in order to clear the way for a recreation park.
Recently in another less known case, Mr. Mohsen Dogmehchi, a political prisoner who was suffering from cancer, passed away in prison while the Islamic regime’s officials refused to let him get proper medical treatment. Dogmehchi was sentenced to 10 years for “giving aid to families of political prisoners.”
It is not clear why helping prisoners’ families, an admirable act of charity by any standard, would be considered a crime punishable by imprisonment and denial of medical treatment. But apparently, in the eye of the Islamic regime, even the innocent families of its opponents must suffer for the perceived crimes of their loved ones.
Over the past 32 years, countless opponents of the Islamic regime have been imprisoned, tortured and killed. In all these cases, family members and loved ones of the victims were and continue to be the voiceless victims of the Islamic regime’s cruelty. They have been and continue to be systematically exposed to varying degrees of financial, physical and psychological punishments.
Voltaire once said that “fear follows crime and is its punishment.” The Islamic regime in Iran seems to live in a state of perpetual fear: fear of its opponents, fear of their families and fear of anything or anyone who doesn’t conform to its image. Instilling fear in hearts and minds appears as the main tactic used to face the ever growing number of opponents with the hope to silence both their hopes as well as their actions.
But as history and the recent events in the Middle East show, as terrifying as fear might be, it is still fragile. Sooner or later people do overcome their fears and grow tired of living under its shadow. Nothing can stop them then. The Islamic Regime in Iran won’t be an exception. All humans, particularly the youth, live on hope, and hope is something that the Islamic regime can’t offer. Iran’s future will be shaped by the hope of its youth and not by the fear and hatred of its Islamic regime!
Nir Boms is a co-founder of the CyberDissident project and a board member of Neda for Free Iran. Shayan Arya is an Iranian activist and a member of Constitutionalist Party of Iran (Liberal Democrat).