IRAN TEACHES NO HUMAN RIGHTS WITHOUT ELECTORAL DEMOCRACY
While the world focuses on the"travesty" of removing Saddam Hussein, an important drama is unfolding in Iran. It carries invaluable lessons for those who worry about illiberal democracies or advocate Parliamentary debating societies in lieu of democratic reforms in the Middle East. For the behavior of the elected powerless reformers in Iran served only to discredit moderates. Why? Because they have demonstrated that they will only use their moral authority to challenge the regime when their own" chairs" are at stake.
- Last summer when numerous Iranian students were thrown into jail during a nationwide security crackdown following anti-regime protests, the reformers did nothing.
- Dozens of papers were shut down, but the reformers did nothing.
- Reform legislation was scuttled by the"Council of Guardians," but the reformers did nothing.
- 43,000 Iranians died in Bam in a large measure because of the regime's incompetence and the reformers did nothing.
Then, the Guardians Council barred 3,500 would-be candidates out of around 8,000 from standing for the February poll. And the reformers did something. - They threatened to boycott the election which they were going to lose anyway. Responding - the council -- ordered to carry out a review by Khamenei -- reinstated 1,160 in a lengthy appeals process, but some 80 sitting MPs, prominent pro-reform figures and allies of President Mohammad Khatami remain barred.
In other words, only when the"goodies" accrued by being a member of Parliament is about to be lost, do Parliamentarians budge. Hence, the ability to throw the rascals out is the single effective guarantee that the interests of a population will be seriously considered and that includes human rights. After all, only people interested in power run for office, and the best way to keep them honest is to threaten to take away that power, minimal that it may be.
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