By Tom Seymour
The Republican Journal, Jan. 12, 2018 - It happened before. The Iranian people rose up in 2009 and had the United States and other western powers supported their efforts, perhaps the Iranian people might have overthrown the tyrannical government of the mullahs.
But the Obama administration did nothing. And so the Iranian government, after killing and jailing protestors, many of whom remain in prison, lapsed back into its old ways of ruling with an iron grip.
Things have changed since then. The current American president has voiced his support of the Iranian protestors and their plight. But the change remains one-sided. Democrats, with the surprising exception of Bernie Sanders, have not stepped up to the plate. In fact, former National Security Advisor Susan Rice recently admonished President Trump for tweeting his support for the downtrodden people of Iran. Rice suggested that the best thing the president could do was to remain silent.
That’s the same Susan Rice who went on a nationally televised lying spree immediately following the savage and deadly attack on the embassy in Benghazi, Syria. Looking the American people squarely in the eye, Rice blamed the carnage on a video that was supposed to have insulted Islam, the “religion of peace.” Rice has never apologized for her part in the lie/cover-up.
But our current president is not like the timid Obama. He and his administration stand with the demonstrators in Iran and, hopefully, will stay the course by instituting measures to assist and support the freedom-seeking protestors.
Iran, while controlled by stone-age barbarians, is not a country of simple goat herders as some might believe. The people there are intelligent, educated, motivated and self-assured. Besides that they love and want freedom. And they can no longer tolerate their government dictating their every move.
Protests over the years have shaped history. The American Revolution was prefaced with protests about ill treatment at the hands of colonizing British. And now, in the far-away country of Iran, protestors have similar grievances. Their motives are pure.
Of any protests of recent years, the current protests by the people of Iran require an amazing amount of courage and fortitude. It is a protest where the chance of torture and hanging at the hands of a vengeful government is very real. Not since the days of the American civil rights movement have protestors faced such certain physical harm.
Americans have a long and ongoing history of protests and it is surprising that our domestic protestors have not embraced these freedom-marching Iranian protestors and at least marched or protested here on our own soil as a sign of solidarity with the oppressed. Perhaps in time they will.
While both men and women are taking part in the protests, it is the women who are leading the charge. In fact, one Iranian woman stood up in plain view and removed her head covering. Women in Iran are mandated to keep these coverings in place and to remove a head scarf is to court severe retribution.
Another Iranian woman taunted the men, many of whom were reluctant to join the protests, telling them to act like men and join them in their revolt. Then we have the by-now-famous photo of the Iranian woman walking through a cloud of teargas with her fist held up in an act of defiance. These people are heroes, all. And they may well be the catalyst that brings the biggest changes to Iran since the 1979 revolution. But they need our support.
In an all-important move, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, has called for an emergency session of the U.N. Security Council to discuss what the world organization can do to ensure protestors’ safety and to do everything possible to support their cause. Haley said, “The people of Iran are crying out for freedom.”
One thing the U.N. can try to do is to keep the internet open in Iran so the protestors can show the world, in real time, the state of things there.
Next, the U.N., perhaps with America’s urging, should voice support for the Muhahedin-e Khalq (MEK), the umbrella organization that has long worked toward Iranian independence. Another heroic woman, the MEK leader, Maryan Rajavi, has announced that “…regime change is within reach.” With help from a sympathetic world, that can become a distinct reality.
The world is so full of turmoil that to many, the Iranian Revolution of 2017-18 may appear as just another flare-up in a volatile region. But the ramifications of a free Iran are beyond comprehension. In short, the world will be a safer place and countless people will finally be released from tyranny. So we must try, we must do everything in our power to see that the protesters achieve their goal. Nothing less is acceptable.
Tom Seymour is a freelance magazine and newspaper writer, book author, naturalist and forager. He lives in Waldo.