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Who and what is the Islamic Regime’s alternative?: by Mohammad Parvin

Thursday 8 August 2019

Who and what is the Islamic Regime’s alternative?

Regarding the statement of 14 people in Iran

August 2, 2019

In response to my previous post on the statement of fourteen activists in Iran [1], one

of the activists abroad sent me an email and asked:

"Suppose the Islamic Regime was overthrown tomorrow or next week or next month.

What is the Alternative really and who is it?"

I gave him a short answer and will try to address this very important question a little more in this writing.

The Islamic Regime will not be overthrown by itself even after another forty years. And, its overthrow by a military invasion and coup, etc., will never bring about democracy.

This regime has been the best alternative for the interest-driven governments of the world.

One of the main factors behind such a situation is and has been our lack of action, counting on only slogans, issuing petitions and statements. We have been unable to get involved in actions that could result in the empowerment of the Iranians and show the real and better alternative to the entire world.

Armed uprising and fighting cannot overthrow the Islamic regime, which has the most advanced weapons and will not abstain from killing thousands to save its regime. If the possibility of a successful armed uprising could be shown, I would have no problem with it personally.

The far more rational solution is the battle of disobedience. I believe that the overthrow of the Islamic regime is possible only with the participation of millions of people in the battle of civil disobedience.

But the battle of disobedience is not shaped by the slogan. Political activists need to learn how to do it, and to organize and disseminate dissatisfied people inside Iran from the outset, and in the anonymous form at the beginning (not starting by issuing a statement with their names on it!).

As an observer of the fights in Iran, I have never tried and will try to tell the militants in Iran what to do. But with my knowledge of conditions inside Iran, I think that I should be allowed to share my thoughts with others. If we look at the struggles of the Iranian people, it demonstrates the fact that they are pursuing disobedience campaigns. The protests and disobedience of some of the Iranian women by saying no to the Islamic Regime and breaking the hijab law is an example of this campaign [2].

Freedom fighters in Iran have found that this bloody regime cannot be fought with cannons and tanks. They know that carrying on a covert armed struggle cannot attract unhappy people. As a force and movement that does not include the informed masses, it either doesn’t have any chance for success, or even if happened to succeed under extremely exceptional circumstances, and the transfer of power was done, it wouldn’t result in freedom and democracy.

Forces that come to power without the involvement of the informed masses, usually consider power only their own right because they have fought for it. Most of all, they usually believe that the people owe them and ask: " where you were at the time of our bloodshed." And with that logic, they will never dare to put themselves to the vote of the people.

The option of the disobedience fight to overthrow the Islamic regime is not picked out of fear or any humanistic concern. It doesn’t have any similarity with the struggles within the regime’s rules and laws and reforms movements.

The Islamic regime that owns our country will block any movement. We cannot just push it aside and pass by it!

The battle of disobedience that is aimed at the totality of the system of oppression, never reconcile and its only aim is to overthrow the Islamic regime. Its organizers consider their battle more serious than to give their suppressors their names at the beginning of this battle. We have to put aside relying on the statements and challenge each other on practical solutions. The battle of disobedience must first be first learned and then commented on.

Some progressive groups in Iran have adopted the method of disobedience by pursuing appropriate methods in accordance with the present conditions of our society. These groups although have not yet received the support of the dissatisfied but passive and indigenous populations and although may not be well equipped with theories and actions of disobedience struggle, have been able to make the regime somewhat shaky and unstable.

However, the Islamic regime has been able to control and prevent the expansion of these movements. It has done it by consistently suppressing social-political activists, exploiting interest-driven elements inside and outside Iran (active lobbyists), distorting fundamental issues, exploiting political burnout and repentance, promoting a reformist mindset, and finally the help of the Western countries.

We should be able to take these destructive tools out of the regime’s hands.

Disobedience struggles will continue to be suppressed by the regime if it remains spontaneous and unorganized. The degree of the regime’s brutality in dealing with disobedience struggles and the timing of its intensification depends on different conditions inside and outside the border. So, beyond all these discussions, the fundamental problem that must be resolved is how to organize the disobedience campaign.

In the MEHR group, we have learned a lot about the disobedience movement and the way it has been practiced in many places and countries, and we are still learning. No uprising and struggle can be repeated, but one can learn from them. For our part, we have shared with other activists what we have learned from the years of research and investigation of Professor Gene Sharp and others [3].

We have also shared this information with freedom fighters within Iran to the extent that our capabilities permitted us.

But this was nothing that a small group of people with limited resources could do. We got in touch with activists outside Iran and asked them to form an organized movement to achieve this goal. Unfortunately, we didn’t get anywhere and although very painful, we had to stop. The statement of the fourteen people made these pains more alive and I personally could not avoid raising my voice again!

The key point to keep in the mind is that the smart people in Iran are witnessing that they are not only facing this cruel regime but the entire world that is only seeking their own interests. A world that thinks that this regime will serve their interests in the present situation and therefore their only condition for the continuation of trade and economic tie to this regime is related to nuclear activities and interventions of the regime in the region. The human rights condition has always been a decorative pot on every negotiating table, but it has never been practically put beside the atomic conditions.

This is where one of the important roles we could and still can play overseas can be addressed. We can empower the freedom-seeking Iranians in their efforts by united and inclusive efforts around the demand of not giving recognition to the Islamic regime and form an opposition in the process.

This is not possible with begging and the plea to the humanitarian obligations of foreign statesmen. We must raise the issue of not giving recognition to the Islamic regime globally by seeking help from the people of our residence countries and participating in the political process to be able to become a determining and reckoning force among governments and politicians. Our efforts and demands should be concentrated at the beginning at the stop of human rights violation in Iran and as a first step release of all political prisoners and prisoners of conscience.

This also cannot be done easily. It needs a broad unity of action and a widespread organizing effort. To do this, Iranians must be prepared to participate in the political process of their residence countries. We should ask the people of the world who have been informed about the human rights abuses in Iran to use their voting power. Civil society organizations, trade unions, women’s organizations, artists, etc. should be sought to impose on Western governments the requirement that the release of the political prisoners and prisoners of conscience be among the conditions for smart sanctions.

If tens of thousands of Iranians, with the help of the others, indicated above and behind the call for a cessation of human rights violations and the release of political prisoners by smart sanctions could change the fate of political elections here and there around the world, then it will start the competition among the political parties and their politicians to earn our votes by addressing our demands. This will have a very positive outcome for the opposition abroad. Our actions would become much more eye-catching if we could attract international organizations including human rights organizations to support our task.

The hollow slogan, "Political Prisoner Must Be Released", has not and will not achieve anything. This slogan should become practical and tangible in an effort to make the release of political prisoners a prerequisite for any relationship with the Islamic regime.

This effort may also fail to achieve its goal, but in its process may achieve other very important goals.

Our united effort all over the world around one defined goal will give us a distinct identity that we do not currently have. For the first time, the Iranians inside Iran observe that the majority of Iranians abroad are demanding something specific by mobilizing freedom-loving people all around the world. Something that encompasses their interests. And this is what will enable activists and organizers within Iran to become more effective in bringing the people into action. And this is a brilliant start to the expansion of disobedient struggles.

This is the safest and most natural way to create a viable opposition. This effort, in the process of forming itself, will find its leadership just like any other collective movement, and will give united and unified overseas efforts such an identity that they deserve to call themselves opposition.

The organizers of the disobedience movement in Iran will also gradually become more powerful in the light of the identification of an outside opposition that calls and acts for their rights to be acknowledged practically. This will empower the organizers and accelerate their growth. They will also naturally find their own leadership in the process.

Leadership will emerge from within and through these efforts. An alternative that without any doubt is not an individual but rather a united organization that has been able to shape and advance disobedience movements and is therefore supported by the freedom fighters in Iran.

This alternative, in its widespread form, which is backed by Iranians inside and outside Iran and by freedom-loving people around the world, will eventually impose itself to the interest-driven foreign governments.

We should not sit down in the hope of such a day. To make it happen we must move from writing "statements" to action.


1- Passing by the Islamic Regime or Overthrowing it?

2- Iranian Women Fighting for Their Basic Rights
3- Disobedience

Mohammad Parvin, Ph.D., is a former faculty member of California Institute of Technology and an adjunct professor at the California State University, and Founding Director of the Mission for Establishment of Human Rights in Iran (MEHR)

Your Comments on this Article are welcome

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Passing by the Islamic Regime or Overthrowing it?

Regarding the statement of 14 people in Iran

Mohammad Parvin

July 30, 2019

The statement of the fourteen people in Iran dealing with Khamenei and the Islamic Regime has created mixed reactions among expatriates. [1]

Regardless of the degree to which individuals and groups are familiar with the thoughts and background of the signatories, and to what extent this recognition has been the criterion of their judgment, the common point of most of these assessments is that it is largely based on the same decades-long approach. Frustrated by the dominating words rather than deeds of the so-called opposition outside Iran and after a long period of silence it may be necessary to express again a non-politically correct view of the current situation.

The majority of the approaches to these statements are based again on the slogan. These reactions and evaluations, if positive, results in issuing repeated statements and endorsements in support of their approval of the statement by different groups, organizations, and individuals. The audience is either the regime itself or the people of the world, or it is mostly unclear who they are talking to, what are the sources they are seeking help from, and more importantly what sort of help they are asking for.

The negative approaches and criticisms are more concentrated on exposing the signers of the Declaration and rejecting it without offering and viable suggestion.

The first statement of the fourteen people concludes that:

"We, the signatories of the Declaration, believe that it is time for the people, activists, and intellectuals to set aside the expansive tendencies that have given rise to the destruction of the country’s culture, civilization, and wealth, and be at the forefront of this national movement by openly demanding a fundamental change in the constitution and the resignation of a leader, who expands its unjust authority every day. "

There is no mention of the overthrow of the Islamic regime. It is not clear what the signatories mean by asking people to "explicitly stepping in". It seems that the statement is demanding an era when Khamenei has resigned and his successors have embraced fundamental constitutional changes. This is nothing but the survival of the Islamic regime in a false veil.

The second and "improved" statement of the 14 people indicates that:

" We are seeking a peaceful transition from this regime which is devastating Iran and are asking for a free election.

We also aspire to have a democratic and secular state, with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on the forefront of its next parliament for drafting the most modern constitution of the present day!

Therefore, what we have sought and are seeking since the release of our first statement, is a transnational demand for the "complete passage" of the Islamic Republic. All true freedom-seekers of all political and ideological orientations share this demand. "

What is meant by "perfect transition" and "perfect passage"? Does it mean the overthrow of the Islamic regime?

On what account this word has not been used. I have never read and heard anywhere else that instead of "overthrow" the terms transition or passing by is used. As a result, until a third Statement makes it clear, I don’t have any other option but to believe that the reason they used these terms is that they actually don’t mean overthrowing the Islamic Regime.

So, not from a negative perspective, but in order to make the right judgment, it is necessary to review the past positions of the signatories on the regime, its reform, their letters and pleas to the regime to reconsider its behavior and many other things that are absolutely necessary. In short, there may be questions such as how did Nasrin Sotoudeh, a human rights lawyer who was previously imprisoned for defending women who did not observe the Islamic veil was sentenced to 38 years imprisonment and 148 lashes in March 2019 but those who advocate for "complete passage" by the Islamic Republic are still safe?

I will leave this for another discussion. You also think about it and get help from the given references that will help to more accurately make a judgment. So for now, I leave side all of these perceptions and concentrate on a few other questions.

If we assume that "complete passage" means overthrow, how is it to be done by the people? How can "free elections" and "establishing the most modern constitution" be guaranteed?

The Islamic Regime has not allowed the formation or survival of any groups or organizations by imprisonment, torture, and execution of activists and protesters.

And most importantly, how can millions of people who are dissatisfied but inactive be taken to the streets? Is only issuing a statement can resolve this painful dilemma?

There is no need to evaluate and analyze that if activists are genuinely seeking to overthrow the regime, their purpose and names should not be made public before a mass movement is shaped. Is it logical to address the Regime with names and making a demand for a complete passage when there is not yet an organized movement formed? Do you think it would be difficult for a bloody regime to imprison, torture and execute all of these signatories if it was in danger and would this create any major barrier for it?

Many have said this before and will say it again that the purpose of issuing this statement is to inform the people of the world of the dissatisfaction of the Iranian people and their desire for regime change. It is said that dissatisfied Iranian people will also take to the streets using the world’s public opinion and the overthrow of the regime will be possible.

As I have said and written for years let me say once again! Suppose we have informed all the people of the world. What effects will this in itself is going to have? How will it take unhappy people to the streets? What do we want from the world-conscious people that can empower the freedom-seeking Iranians?

What, for example, what do we want from informed people of America? Do we want their president to attack Iran and bring down the regime?

Let us suppose that the person who is called the US presidents attacked Iran, dropped bombs and killed many people to overthrow the regime. Which alternative do they have to replace the regime with?

Is it going to be as easy as recommended by the fourteen signatories to "overthrow" the Islamic regime, hold free elections, and rule Iran’s democracy?

Of course, we all know that there are wishfully claiming successors outside Iran! It can be read and heard that a couple of claimants are counting on the likelihood of being selected as one replacing the regime and that they are competing with each other and giving bad names to each other!

Let’s skip this for now too!

Have you ever heard or read that the United States and Europe have any other demand from the dictatorship in Iran rather than asking them to accept their nuclear terms and the regime’s non-interference in the region?

The US and no European government are not practically trying to overthrow the Islamic regime. They are not because they do not see a better choice for themselves. They don’t see and organized opposition inside Iran. Outside Iran, they either see individuals and groups who are more involved in rejecting each other or have no basis inside Iran.

We have witnessed that once a while to agitate the Islamic Regime, they try to appease this or that power-seeking individual or organization.

But ultimately what will satisfy them and serve their interests is one or parts of the various branches of the regime that may falsely seize power from Khamenei and his supporters. This may take over under the false name of the "regime change" through some kind of coup or foreign intervention with the intention to actually stabilize another shape of the Islamic regime that would accept atomic conditions and other conditions that have little to do with promoting Iranian people interests.

Trump’s threats of military attack and imposing sanctions will have no outcome but empowering more the brutal regime. The reason for the poverty and misery of the Iranian working class and middle class who for many years have been the result of regime robberies and heavy spending to support terrorists in the region and other policies have now been placed on the US and its allies under the increasingly powerful slogan of Death to America. The repression and crushing of the protests have been justified. The power and influence of the Islamic regime among the American opposition in the region have greatly increased. And as the regime has declared, it has increased and will continue its nuclear activities and production of enriched uranium.

Trump and his supporters, with their threats of a military strike on Iran, have drawn all opposition to the war in support of the Islamic criminal regime. This sympathy is reflected in the painful fact that there is no longer any mention in the media, magazines, and newspapers of daily violation of human rights in Iran. Lobbyists, who have long sought unconditional recognition for the regime, have come up with a good excuse to more effectively promote acceptance of the Islamic regime than ever before.

There are many questions about the past and present of signatories of this statement. Even if these questions were not there, those who demand the real overthrow of the Islamic regime would not be empowered by such statements. Disgruntled but inactive Iranians are smarter than rushing into the streets by just declaration of fourteen people even if issued by the most well-known.

There has always been another option and still is which has always been overlooked by the opposition overseas, because it is much more difficult than issuing statements, collecting signatures and giving analysis and needs to be organized.

For political activists (not statement writers!) to mobilize and organize people inside Iran to engage in a widespread and long-term civil disobedience battle, a very well organized overseas activity is needed. This support begins by informing the people of the world of the crimes of the Islamic regime. We should be able to ask something from the informed people of the world that would empower the Iranians’ fight against the regime.

Just informing the world’s people about everyday crimes in Iran and not demanding any viable action will not hurt this regime.

The Iranian people have for many years have not been only facing a criminal regime but have been facing the entire interest-driven world that has been practically supporting their enemy and are likely to continue doing so. The only thing they want from the Islamic regime is to control uranium enrichment and interference in the region. Human rights have been talking about, but have never had any practical role. Human rights have been on the table in every conversation and conversation like a flower vase, have been the subject of many official statements and reports, have been reflected in the annual reports of the US State Department and the European Union, but have never exceeded that range. In the US, no matter what party is in power the demands have always been common but expressed in different ways. Republicans have sought to achieve their goals by threatening, intimidation and warmongering, and Democrats through negotiation.

As I have said and written for many years, the efforts of activists abroad must be around denying the Islamic regime universal legitimacy. In the long run of achieving this goal, Iranians abroad must put their effort to bring a smart sanction against the Islamic regime. A sanction whose only pressure is on the regime, not the people, and the condition that it be abolished is a cessation of human rights abuses and as a first step, the release of all political prisoners of conscience.

It is easy to ask for such a thing but it is difficult to do it. The governments of Europe and America are only looking after their own interests. That is why in order to get something from them; we have to be able to influence their interests. In fact, it will be a complicated give and take affair.

Having considered that so many Iranians living abroad, the Iranian expatriates can form a powerful organization and earn a respectful identity by informing the people of the world, gaining their support and participating in the political process.

To form an effective organization we need to act around a simple task.

Our message in any local, city, provincial, and national elections, and our demand from members of congress, senate, and the like in European countries, would be that if you want our vote, you should try to put human rights preconditions alongside other sanctions conditions. At first, we will be nonpartisan. Whether we are a Democrat, Republican, Green or Socialist, we will vote for anyone who will support our goal.

The day we were able to determine the fate of one election, they would compete for our votes, and then we would be able to vote for the one that stands for both human rights in Iran and other areas that are important to us.

Repeated research shows that documentary statistics in the United States indicate that there are elections in which several hundred or several thousand votes determine the results. Mobilizing Iranians in these areas and then trying to join the informed Americans to the movement can determine the fate of many elections in a way that will meet our specific demand.

It is not easy to achieve ultimate success with such a method. It needs organization and coordination. It needs a lot of funding. It needs political, social and human rights groups to put aside their differences temporarily and to focus their efforts on that goal together. There is a need for international human rights organizations to join this effort.

Any a long-term effort that starts from the base towards fulfilling its goals will eventually form its leadership in a natural way.

When people sit around a table to play a sort of game, after a while someone who is more familiar with the game and has the talent of leadership will eventually take over the game. Those who are thoughtful and aware of Iran’s problems, motivated by the overthrow of the Islamic regime with no leadership ambitious in mind, will eventually be recognized by others and the leadership will be assigned to them in a natural way by the base.

The united Iranian effort abroad to add the condition of the abolition of human rights abuses to the current sanctions conditions, to unite the people of the world to help them fulfill this demand and to participate actively in the political process of the countries in which they reside, no matter how much they achieve their goal will at least encourage the Iranians to participates in mass protests related to the disobedience movement and will empower the whole disobedience movement.

Freedom-seeking Iranians see and hear that the majority of Iranians across the globe seek to mobilize people in support of their rights around the world. They will witness the emergence of a new phenomenon in the world when the Iranians use their voting power to force lawmakers to put an end to human rights abuses in Iran. A desire that will be enhanced by mass gatherings, conferences, and writings. Nothing more can show Iran’s freedom-seekers that they are not alone in their fight against criminals, and have the Iranians abroad and freedom-loving people of the world on their side.

Relying on the organized movement shaped in Iran, we can even advance our goals and demand that until the human rights violations has completely stopped in Iran the Islamic regime should not be recognized by the international community. Pressure on the United Nations and other international communities to fulfill this demand will also help to further empower Iran’s freedom fighters.

To clarify this kind of effort, we must put aside these questionable words "cross" and "transition" and so on. The Islamic regime must be overthrown by means of disobedience. If the overthrow is to lead to the beginning of a democratic process in Iran, it must be done only by the Iranian people and through civil disobedience.

Imagine the day when millions of Iranian women say "no" to the Islamic regime and its backward laws and take to the streets without a veil under the eyes of the mobilized world. This will be the end of the life of this criminal regime.

This writing was another reminder of a rational approach to overthrow the Islamic Regime that has been advocated by MEHR group for many years [2]. We have demanded that individuals, groups, and organizations abroad either come together around this line of action or if they have a better and more effective, offer it.

I am sure you know their answer!

Sources and notes about many cases discussed in this article are available on MEHR website [3]. These posts and articles are not necessarily new. But I should sadly say that they are still valid and applicable. Hoping for the day when I can say something new.

Hoping for better days


1. Statements by 14 people in Iran

2. The power of Nonviolence (Civil disobedience Resources)

3. Articles

ohammad Parvin, Ph.D., is a former faculty member of California Institute of Technology and an adjunct professor at the California State University, and Founding Director of the Mission for Establishment of Human Rights in Iran (MEHR)

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