Iran became an Islamic republic in 1979 after the ruling shah was forced into excile. Today, 25 years later, many Iranians long for political change. Exile Iranians in Bergen marked the occasion on a seminar at the Rafto Human Rights House where the prospects for democracy were discussed.
In 1979 conservative clerical forces established a theocratic government in Iran. It was known as The Islamic Revolution and took place as a reaction to the cultural and capitalistic influence from the West. Although Iran was formed as democratic republic, the system gives sovereign political authority to the Spiritual Leader (wali faqih).
Over the past 25 years the Islamic Republic has deprived Iranians of their basic human rights. Consequently an increasing dissatisfaction with the government has occurred. In Berlin 1994 several organisations in exile formed a political party called the Constitutionalist Party of Iran (CPI) to fight for democracy and human rights.
On February 11, the day of the revolution, CPI in Bergen arranged a seminar at the Rafto Human Rights House in order to discuss the current political situation in Iran. They presented a documentary dealing with the occurring violations of the human rights. The film illustrated the Islamic Republic’s censorship and their brutal reactions to any potential crime.
Two conflicting interests are now dividing the Iranian society. Peoples’ democratic demands on the one hand, and the Republic’s systematic intimidations on the other. CPI characterizes the situation as “25 years of
tyranny, terror and divinity creating social and economic chaos”. The restrictive social
policies have led to a powerful pressure for political reform. However, CPI believes the
fundamentalist regime must be replaced by a secular democracy in order to bring
freedom to Iranian people.
Iranians present at the seminar expressed gravity, engagement and hope concerning
the situation in Iran. Elections has recently been held. Nobel and Rafto Laureate, Shirin
Ebadi, urged were foremost among those who urged people to boycott the election. On a national basis the election turnout was about 50%, but in Teheran, only 20% of the electors voted. Many Iranians have already protested, accusing the Islamic Republic of election fraud. One thing seems to be certain though; under the regime of the Islamic Republic no election will take the ultimate control from the clerics.