Friday, July 10, 2009

The Reality of Iran

While we here in the United States were waiting breathlessly for the funeral of Michael Jackson, 34 people were hanged in Iran. 22 in one day. The mainstream media may be more focused on Jackson, but the people of Iran are continuing to fight against all odds and against extreme violence. Many have twittered and asked if we have forgotten them in light of a pop star's death.

Have we forgotten them?

Yesterday thousands of demonstrators ignored government warnings at Tehran University and marched to commemorate the anniversary of bloody student unrest in 1999. They chanted "Death to the dictator!"

They were tear gassed, some arrested, and police seized license plates of vehicles in order to identify them later.

Iran has detained people from the French, British, and Canadian embassies and jailed around 40 journalists and media workers in the post-election crackdown. Thousands of hardline militiamen have been deployed across the city of Tehran to deal with protesters.

What began as a protest against the election results has turned into much more. It has turned into a people seeking the freedom of a true democracy. Meanwhile the Iranian government blames the United States for the unrest. Iran’s intelligence minister Gholam-Hossein Mohseni Ejei told Iranian IRIB television that “Americans and Zionists” were responsible for spreading rumors among Iranians that the election had been rigged.

It's clear that our President will do no more than claim he is "deeply troubled" and finally "outraged" by the events in Iran. Even at the G8 summit the focus was on Iran's uranium enrichment activities, and not on the people of Iran who are so desperately fighting for freedom.

The focus on uranium enrichment is well founded and needed, but let's not forget the brave people of Iran. They fight the very same regime that threatens the world with a future nuclear threat. This threat cannot be ignored like the people of Iran have been ignored by the international community.

Nation's leaders with the G8's joint declaration warned Tehran to comply with UN resolutions calling for a freeze on its uranium enrichment activities. French President Sarkozy threatened further sanctions against Iran if it did not respond to US overtures for talks on its nuclear activities. President Obama said the international community would not wait "indefinitely" for Iran to comply. The leaders warned Iran that they would "take stock" to see if Iran had complied with demands for a freeze on its nuclear activities at the G20 meeting in Pittsburgh in the US in September.

Somehow I don't think that mattered much to President Ahmadinejad. I would think the reaction would be similar to when Pres. Obama expressed outrage regarding the violence on protesters. Pres. Ahmadinejad scolded Obama:

"Mr. Obama made a mistake to say those things ... our question is why he fell into this trap and said things that previously [former President George W.] Bush used to say," the semi-official Fars News Agency quoted Mr. Ahmadinejad as saying.

"Do you want to speak with this tone? If that is your stance then what is left to talk about ... I hope you avoid interfering in Iran's affairs and express your regret in a way that the Iranian nation is informed of it."

I'm not sure if you caught that, but Pres. Ahmadinejad just told our President that he needed to apologize to Iran. Somehow I don't think that is going to happen (at least I HOPE NOT). Do any of us doubt that Pres. Ahmadinejad will have a similar tone in September regarding Iran's nuclear capabilities.

It's clear that Iran does not fear the United States or the international community. It will continue abusing it's people and it will continue it's forward march to a nuclear weapon. In May The Telegraph reported "Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, has said that Iran could be just a year away from developing a nuclear weapon."

The United States and Pres. Obama may be able to turn our face away from the human right abuses in Iran, but Obama cannot continue to ignore this nuclear threat. Sooner or later, President Obama will have to face the fact that he will have to give up his fantasy of being able to sit and have tea with the President of Iran. You cannot reason with those who are not capable of it.

Meanwhile, we pray for the brave Iranian people. It's the only thing we can do.