Masih Alinejad: A Letter to Obama

Dec 10, 20090 comments

Picture 2

Mr. President Obama: If you are not with the Iranian people, then do not be with THEM, the oppressors who beat up women and young people who demand a fair election. You, in your own way, are also responsible for the bloodshed and violence in Iran. Mr. President, for the second time in five months you have chosen to be on the side of the Revolutionary Guards, the Basij, and conservative forces who stole the votes of the Iranian people. On Nov. 4, the day before the 30th anniversary of US embassy takeover, you sent a new letter to Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. By your act, you have thrown President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a lifeline. This letter, which has been kept secret, emboldened President Ahmadinejad’s security apparatus to be more brutal in dealing with anti-government forces. You have chosen to side with those chanting “Death to America,” and against the pro-democracy marchers who want a normalized relationship with the U.S. Across Iran, for the 30th anniversary of the takeover of the U.S. Embassy, the streets of Iran were filled with ordinary citizens demonstrating for peaceful political change. The security forces beat up the protesters and arrested hundreds. On the streets of Tehran and other cities, a new chant has been taken up by the protestors: ‘Obama! You’re with them or with us.’ The Ahmadinejad government fears the potential for the opposition Green Movement to transform itself to form an alternative government, to gain recognition in Western capitals. Ahmadinejad government sees engagement with the Obama administration as a way to block such a relationship from developing. President Obama: you have voiced sympathy and admiration for supporters of the Green Movement and the courage of the demonstrators. Yet, you are writing secret letters to the oppressors and your administration cuts funding for U.S.-based organizations such as the Human Rights Documentation Center. Just before Iran’s June presidential election you send your first confidential letter to Ayatollah Khamenei. It was supposed to be a secret contact between you and Iran’s top leadership. Yhad wanted to signal your willingness to start negotiations before Iran’s June 12 presidential elections and continue with the winning candidate. But the message that the Iranian leadership took was that you were willing to deal with the regime’s hardliners. Therefore, the Supreme Leader had no reason to compromise with the reformers. You have now sent a second message to the Supreme Leader, to convince Iran to stop it’s nuclear enrichment program and enter negotiations. You have sent a signal that for you, the issue of human rights is secondary to the nuclear issue. The question is if Iran agreed and halted its enrichment activity what would be your reaction. As a Noble Peace Prize laureate, would you deal with a regime that is oppressing its own population, arresting, torturing and killing dissidents. Opposition leaders are either in jail or under house arrest, reformist newspapers are shut down, their journalists, beaten and arrested. Amid their merciless efforts to consolidate power, Ahmadinejad and his allies see discussion of the nuclear program as a baton to use to silence the criticism of their anti-democratic behavior. President, a democratic Iran has no need for nuclear weapons. As an Iranian journalist who has been working for Iranian newspapers within the country for the past 10 years, I have to tell you, the Iranian people rejoiced at your election. They embraced your message of hope and change. If change can happen in the United States, why not in Iran? But there is now disappointment for it seems that you have chosen to side with Ahmadinejad and Ayatollah Khamenei and not with the people? Mr. President you too bear responsibility for the events in Iran. Do not reward a regime that engages in brutal domestic repression.