“Human Beings Are Members of a Whole”: Protecting the Iranian Civil Society


Human beings are members of a whole,
In creation of one essence and soul.
If one member is afflicted with pain,
Other members uneasy will remain.
If you have no sympathy for human pain,
The name of human you cannot retain.
— A poem by the Persian poet Sa’adi (1210-1290)
gracing the entrance of the Hall of Nations
of the United Nations building in New York City

If we speak out against the threat of force against Iran (regarding the nuclear conflict) and warn against a military strike, we cannot be silent on the use of force in Iran itself against its own civil society.  For solidarity with the civil society and a peaceful order in the region constitute the primary concern of our efforts.  If we condemn foreign sanctions against the Iranian people, we deplore all the more domestic sanctions directed at peaceful demonstrators, journalists, trade unionists, professors, students and others.  Thereby the government deprives itself of the domestic basis needed against foreign threats.

Not only as individuals but also conjointly as a group of engaged scholars, we want to announce our resolute protest against the brutal clampdown of demonstrators and against the mass arrests, and strongly advise a peaceful dialogue with the civil society.  We call upon the government to release all political prisoners of the last few weeks — amongst them many professors — and to seek dialogue with precisely those persons as moderators of the civil society.  Freedom of opinion and the right to demonstrate — cornerstones of the UN Charter of Human Rights to which Iran is a signatory — are being massively violated in today’s Iran.

We strongly remind that the state of siege and the continuing threat of force that have emanated from foreign governments once again fatally demonstrate how thereby the spaces for a democratic development in Iran are being reduced.

At the same time, we deplore the slanted and misleading depictions of the recent events in Iran in some international media.  As supporters of the Iranian civil society, we stress the genuine nature of the protests by the Iranian democracy movement.  Composed of various societal strata, the demonstrators first and foremost have advocated free elections and freedom of expression.

Also, it is astonishing that precisely those who have supported crippling sanctions and pushed for preventive strikes against Iran, whereby civilians have been and would be harmed, suddenly speak about solidarity with the Iranian people.  They only will be convincing when they stand up against sanctions and the threat of force and advocate a peaceful dialogue in the region.

Signed by:

1.  Dr. Behrooz Abdolvand, Free University of Berlin & Academic Advisory Board of the Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran (CASMII)
2.  Prof. Gilbert Achcar, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London
3.  Dr. Arshin Adib-Moghaddam, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London
4.  Prof. Ahmad Ahgary, Association of Iranian Scientists and Engineers in Germany (VINI)
5.  Mohammad Ala, Persian Gulf Task Force & Iran Heritage
6.  Tariq Ali, writer, London
7.  Dr. Katajun Amirpur, Jesuit School of Philosophy in Munich
8.  Dr. Matin Baraki, University of Marburg & Academic Advisory Board of CASMII
9.  Angelika Beer, Co-Chair of the EastWest Institute’s Parliamentarian Network for Conflict Prevention and Human Security, Brussels
10.  Dr. Bettina Bouresh, Archive of the Regional Authority (Landschaftsverband) Rhineland, Germany
11.  Reiner Braun, International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms (IALANA) & Academic Advisory Board of CASMII
12.  Prof. Hamid Dabashi, Columbia University
13.  Prof. Hans-Peter Dürr, Right Livelihood Award 1987
14.  Prof. Abbas Edalat, Imperial College London & Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran (CASMII)
15.  Ali Fathollah-Nejad, University of Münster & Academic Advisory Board of CASMII
16.  Prof. Sasan Fayazmanesh, California State University, Fresno
17.  Prof. Ali Gorji, University of Münster
18.  Foaad Khosmood, University of California at Santa Cruz & CASMII International Steering Committee
19.  Prof. Mohssen Massarrat, University of Osnabrück & Academic Advisory Board of CASMII
20.  Naz Massoumi, convenor of Campaign Iran, London
21.  Prof. Georg Meggle, University of Leipzig
22.  Prof. Pirouz Mojtahed-Zadeh, Tarbiat Modares University of Tehran & Urosevic Research Foundation, London
23.  Tobias Pflüger, former MEP (German Left Party) & Information Agency Militarization (IMI), Tübingen (Germany)
24.  Daniel M. Pourkesali, U.S. Board of the Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran (CASMII)
25.  Prof. Ahad Rahmanzadeh, University of Bonn & & Academic Advisory Board of CASMII
26.  Sanaz Raji, University of Leeds & London School of Economics and Political Science
27.  Lieutenant Colonel Jürgen Rose, German Air Force, Munich
28.  Prof. Werner Ruf, University of Kassel & Academic Advisory Board of CASMII
29.  Prof. Dr. Nader Sadeghi, George Washington University, Washington D.C.
30.  Prof. Muhammad Sahimi, University of Southern California, Los Angeles
31.  Dr. Sabine Schiffer, Institute for Media Responsibility (IMV), Erlangen (Germany)
32.  Dr. Yvonne Schmidt, University of Graz & Academic Advisory Board of CASMII
33.  Prof. Ursula Schumm-Garling, Frankfurt/Main
34.  Miriam Shabafrouz, German Institute of Global and Area Studies (GIGA), Hamburg
35.  Siba Shakib, author & filmmaker
36.  Prof. Albert Stahel, University of Zurich & Academic Advisory Board of CASMII
37.  Dr. Rainer Werning, political scientist and author
38.  Bernhard Trautvetter, Peace Forum Essen (EFF), Germany
39.  Kaveh Yazdani, University of Osnabrück
40.  Azadeh Zamirirad, University of Potsdam

Translated from German by Ali Fathollah-Nejad