Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Post #92 - Revolutionary Brutality

(These next few posts will deal with human rights abuses in Iran).

The summary executions, beatings and other excesses of the early days of the Islamic Revolution still reverberate in the consciousness of those who lived through that era. An eyewitness to the Islamic Revolution, Brian Appleton, has written:

Khomeini's return from exile
"I saw with my own eyes, shortly after Khomeini's coup d'etat, the 20,000 protesting professional women who marched in Tehran refusing to veil and were harassed and stabbed by hooligans...[the protesters] called themselves the “men” of Iran because they were the first ones to protest the new regime en masse.... I fear that the IRI has survived against the will of the people for 27 years now because of foreign intervention. The U.S. Government does not want a strong Iran to interfere in their hegemony in the region and the Europeans have cut too many oil deals with these butchers to want to see them out of power. It is a sad state of affairs when countries are never allowed to be masters of their own destiny...this is the new mercantilism, the new colonialism, the new global economy where third world countries are engineered by design of the great powers just as surely as Stalin engineered famines in the Ukraine. I pray nightly that Bush doesn't start a war on Iran."

Beyond the mass political upheaval, though, were the hundreds of individual stories: the former minister summarily sentenced to be hanged, the young man or woman brutally disciplined by a gang of "morality" enforcers, the intellectual who fell afoul of the authorities and found he could not speak in public or be published in journals. As in the French Revolution, the high ideals were matched by base motives and methods, like a hybrid creature, half angel and half demon...all too human, one might say.

Now that the world has experienced, either up-close or at a remove, the so-called "Arab Spring," we see that the people of each country have to answer those same questions: How can the "bad old regime" be removed without plunging one's nation into a "different-but-just-as-bad new regime?" How can the people retain the power they demonstrated, rather than letting it slip into a just a few hands? How can the Spring not become a Winter of discontent?

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