Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Dr. Alireza Nazmi- For Iranian Turks- United Nation – Geneva- Switzerland November 12, 2009
دکتر علیرضا نظمی افشار -کمیسیون دیپلوماتیک آذربایجان جنوبی – کالیفرنیا , +1(209)606-2947

Ladies and gentlemen,

I am here today to listen to my brothers and sisters from all around world, to feel their pain and join in their frustration and anger. I am here, once more, to let the world know of the injustice and inhuman discrimination happening in my country of Iran. Today, I would like to share with you only one aspect of chauvinism that occurs in Iran: discrepancy in “Political Participation”.

A system that allows for effective and unbiased “Political Participation” from all citizens is core to the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Without an effective “political participation”, we will NEVER have “everyone to take part in the government of his country” and “equal access to public service in his country” as outlined in Article 21 of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Sadly, my Iran’s system for ensuring effective “political participation” is broken for a century, having been usurped by a one ethnic group, Persian, Focused on maintaining its grip on power. A regime dominated by Persians has systematically manipulated both the electoral process, and the political and military appointment process to ensure that some 70% of the population of Iran has no voice in Iran’s policy- and decision-making.

“Iran’s Electoral Process is a sham.”

In order to have a fair electoral process, a nation must assure that: First) all of its citizens’ votes and voices are counted; and Second) just as importantly, that the choices and candidates given to the citizens truly reflect the will of the people. In this, Iran has utterly failed.

Iran’s ruling group tightly controls who can and cannot run, and, by doing this, it predetermines the outcome. Nothing original, nothing complicated – but supremely effective.

The process of election starts with a process of elimination. From the list of candidates, the ones who are permitted to run are NOT the ones who represent the voters’ interests and the interests of different ethnic groups, but exactly the opposite. The ones who are allowed to run are the ones who will support the group in power. If for any reason the regime permits someone from an outside ethnic group to run, it will be someone who can be controlled and manipulated – not a candidate who can truly represent the outside ethnic group. Once candidates are appointed, the circus of campaigning and voting starts, but only to endorse the selected assignees.

For example, in the recent election in Iran, the majority of our people supported “Akbar Elami” a seasoned politician from the main body of the regime, but because he partially believed in our people’s rights, Guardian Council would not allow him candidacy.

In Iran, the SAVAK during the Pahlavi regime, and the Guardian Council today, decide who can “run” for office. This is the illusion of choice given to its people. By protecting the ethnic minority in power today, this rigged system muzzles the voices of 70% of its citizens; it tramples on the God-given rights of 70% of its people. And, in the long run, it leads to ugly, uncivil, and violent ways of addressing one’s frustration. (as we have already started seeing)
The government’s role in the process of candidacy must only be observation on registration to check constitutional qualifications and requirements. Period.

The embarrassing country of Iran today, what a better place could be if 100% of its people and all its ethnic diversity could serve their country and feel a real part of the Nation, not only one-third of people.

“Political participation via political and military appointments is NOT permitted.”
All top decision- and policy-making officials in Iran are from one ethnic group – Persian. Let me say again, an ethnic group that represents 30% of the population holds all the top military appointments. While Iran’s armed forces are composed of 63% ethnic Turks and 23% Persians.

In the governing body, while Turkic ethnics represent at least a third of the population, and may even constitute the largest ethnic group in Iran, National Security Council and Guardian Council members, Supreme Court, cabinet ministers, and ambassadors generally all are Persian. In fact, by administrative order and counter to the Constitution itself, the Secretaries of Foreign Ministry, Intelligence, Interior must be Persian.

“Change must happen at both the structural and policy levels.”

There must be change at the very core – at the structural and Constitutional level. The current Constitutional structure (under Articles 5 and 107) creates a Supreme leadership, a modern name for caliphate. These Articles eliminates 99.5% of the country’s people from being elected for the position, and limits it to a few male Muslim, Hard line, Shi’ite Ayatollahs. This process does not permit a truly democratic society where the voice of all genders, faiths, ethnicities, and political believes are heard. Iran must create a “civil republic” to replace the “Islamic Republic”. Unquestionably, Islamic religion will and should continue to play an important role in everyone’s lives, but the business of governing should be separate. Secondly, the articles of the Constitution that promise equality and fairness to all ethnicities and minorities MUST be applied and enforced. The issue is not necessarily the absence of such words, but the application of these ideals when they run counter to those in power.

However, we need not wait for structural changes because significant policy changes can occur within the context of today’s environment. The first steps toward creating a more just society should start at the policy level, and we suggest four concrete steps:

1) Expressed recognition that Iran is a multi-National country and must have more than one official language; the current policy of discouraging and persecuting different ethnic cultures and languages must be reversed to one of encouraging and protecting the diversity within Iran,

2) Different ethnic groups and regions should be given greater autonomy (both fiscal and legislative),

3) allowing non-Persian ethnics to form their own associations, cultural centers, and political parties within the laws of the country, and

4) Allowing all ethnicities, faiths, political believes, to have right to introduce their own candidates without government interference.

These are some critical changes that we must bring about. It will not happen without the help of the UN, the international community, and all of us in this room – but it must happen. Iran, the country that today is prison and a place of torture for Non-Persian ethnicities, belongs to all ethnicities and must be served and governed by all Iranians equitably for peace and prosperity.

God bless you all

Dr. Alireza Nazmi -For Iranian Turks-United Nation – Geneva- Switzerland November 12, 2009



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