Masoud Eslami: ‘Why Harris should relinquish Iranian blame and shame game’


Masoud Eslami: ‘Why Harris should relinquish Iranian blame and shame game’

The revolution in Iran has, in reality, proved to be a successful evolution, writes Masoud Eslami, the Iranian ambassador

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, centre, at the annual Islamic Unity Conference in Tehran (Iranian Presidency Office/AP)
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, centre, at the annual Islamic Unity Conference in Tehran (Iranian Presidency Office/AP)

My vision for making peace is as simple as that of Eoghan Harris, former Irish senator who published a stinging article on Iran’s revolution (Sunday Independent, February 17).

Mine, however, is not myopically limited to a blame and shame game. I would rather make peace by searching for a modicum of common ground and highlighting the similarities. Once established, the common ground would overshadow differences and peace would progressively be made.

That was my point of departure when I spoke lately on Iran and Ireland’s similarities over the past 100 years. Alluding to certain historical facts, I pointed out that Iran and Ireland have both defied internal repression through their respective revolutions and fought against foreign intervention. Both nations have struggled for self-determination and have been subjected to cruel famines and sanctions imposed by foreigners. Against this proud backdrop, it was hoped that both nations would be able to promote bilateral relations on the basis of mutual respect and mutual interests.

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The case in point is the article by Eoghan Harris which highlighted the “killing cranes” in Iran. Far from being a prelude to peace, as the writer has professed, the title indeed provokes a battle. Reading through the article, a clue for peace becomes even more elusive.

In contrast to my vision, Harris encourages hue and cry on what he perceives as rifts between Iran and Ireland and by doing so he deprives himself, and his readers, of sighting the bright part of the picture.

Harris’s reference to the presence of two distinguished TDs, namely Mick Wallace and Clare Daly, as a “singular political presence”, may be construed as the writer’s veiled dismay that so many clerical and diplomatic dignitaries attended the celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution in Iran at the Radisson Hotel in Dublin.

However, judging their intention is clearly beyond his moral capacity and could hardly be interpreted as anything but deliberate ill-judgment. Harris was not able to conceal the bottom-line of his discomfort with the TDs mentioned when he charged them with “political hypocrisy” only because, in his words, of “their campaigns aimed at Israel”.

Harris’s dramatised depiction of “mass public hangings on cranes” in Iran and “30,000 executions” at once is used to set the ground for his own philosophy of shame and blame which would beget such disinformation. Due to an acute desire for exaggeration, he has neglected to cite even a single verifiable source for such shocking and horrifying numbers, not least for the sake of professional journalism. Identical make-believe misinformation is routinely produced by a notorious fundamentalist group recognised as a terrorist organisation, even by European countries.

I am not interested in arguing whether the Iranian or Irish revolution was “much bloodier”. I would argue, however, that the charismatic leadership of Imam Khomeini and his particular emphasis on non-violent resistance curbed the brutality of the Pahlavi regime to a considerable extent. Under his leadership, a long episode of internal repression in Iran was brought to an end in the most peaceful possible manner.

Iran’s revolution turned bloody by foreign aggression and the enemy’s fifth-column sabotage.

I wonder what the reaction of the Western democracies would have been to a situation where a president, prime minister, head of judiciary, and 72 members of parliament, in any European state had fallen victims to terrorism within two months of war being imposed on the country and if the perpetrators would have fled to Iran to be granted safe havens? I suspect that the world would have been on the verge of a Third World War!

The perpetrators of these crimes in Iran have not only been granted safe havens in Europe and America, but also been used from time to time to cry for human rights’ situations in Iran. In order to realise how peaceful Iran has been, one may compare the case with the dubious 9/11 ordeal when the United States launched a global wave of revenge with unspeakable disastrous consequences. Having been an advocate of the American invasion on Iraq, it is understandable why Harris has kept silent as to the indiscriminate massive violations of human rights in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I would challenge Harris’s argument that Iran’s revolution “did not end with a democracy”. Whether he likes it or not, the fact is that the revolution in Iran has indeed proved to be a successful evolution. During the past four decades, social, legal, and political institutions have remarkably evolved. Under the constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the separation of power is institutionalised and 32 competitive universal elections have been held in only 40 years.

As a matter of fact, Iran’s revolution is best known throughout the world for mass demonstrations and unparalleled public participation. Yes, Iran has constructed its own brand of democracy.

Given Harris’s blame and shame attitude, it is no wonder why he has belittled the accomplishments of the Islamic Republic of Iran over the past 40 years. It is not only food and medicine that Iran has become self-sufficient in, but also in highly competitive areas of science and technology, education, arts, and social services. Iran has registered remarkable achievements at world level. The United Nations Development Programme’s publication entitled 2018 Statistical Update and Human Development Index is a verifiable source of information in this respect.

The Islamic Revolution of Iran has been targeted by an intensive campaign of disinformation and misinformation. The distorted image projected by biased media reports has adversely affected the public understanding of Iran in Western countries. Many would not believe that there are about 7,000 female professors in Iran’s universities and that the number of female university students surpasses that of male students. There are more than 70,000 female general physicians as well as 30,000 specialised doctors. More than 2,000 female judges are serving in the Judiciary. Iran’s film industry has been acclaimed internationally. Iranian male and female athletes have also been highly successful and attained medals at the Olympic Games and other international competitions.

Such remarkable achievements in such diverse areas are simply not attainable under a repressive regime.

My last words here concern the first words by Harris. We all live in a less-than-a-perfect world. Challenges and problems abound. Like any other country, Iran has its own challenges and problems and it has a lot to improve on.

If I were to encourage the Irish to break their silence, I would have urged doing so vis-a-vis the grave violations of human rights in Yemen where a whole nation, including tens of millions of women and children are tormented by a deliberate famine and mass starvation.

I would have exhorted Irish solidarity with the Palestinian Nation which has been subjected to systematic erosion and annihilation. Silence should be broken as to the illegitimate sanctions enforced indiscriminately against the Iranian nation, only because it would not succumb to the ill-will of a rogue person who happens to preside over a Western brand of democracy.

I understand that it might not be politically correct for many to support such outcries in Ireland. Nevertheless, the Irish leaders and Irish people are expected to demonstrate their goodwill to alleviate these situations as much as possible.

Unlike Harris, peace for me is not a black-and-white dichotomy but rather a grey area which allows for exerting a great deal of flexibility and preserving certain differences. I also see world opinion as a performance stage, not a battlefield to win.

The culture of peace, advocated and promoted by the international community and by UNESCO for decades, has long since marginalised the win-lose paradigm.

We need not engage in biting and wounding each other to make the world a peaceful place. It is much better to recognise each others’ successes and accomplishments and relinquish the blame and shame game.

Masoud Eslami is the Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Ireland

Sunday Independent


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