The President’s address to the General Assembly was far less enmeshed with heated rhetoric than on prior occasions, but it failed to buffer the difference between his deeds and his declarations; the brazen discrepancy was glaringly obvious for all to observe. The partial homily reminded one of a primary school essay whose author had peppered it with the does and don’t in which he himself had no conviction.
During his speech to the UN General Assembly the President spoke of reverence and respect for other nations whilst simultaneously showing a complete disregard for his own, when he travelled to New York in such lavish style and burdened the nation with the costs. His luxurious travel comes at a time when his government, due to the exponentially increasing price of foreign currency, has sequestered the Foreign Currency Accounts of many individuals and consequently caused the salary of many labourers and the remuneration of many factory workers to be delayed for months. His almost regal visit also commences at a time when poverty is commonplace amongst the Iranian populace, when deprivation is abound in the provinces and when –most tragically – the rate of sexual solicitation is at an unbearable level.
The President, during his address, particularly referred to and emphasised on Freedom of Information, whilst back at home his assertions were followed by the official filtering of Gmail and Yahoo via the deployment of the most ludicrous and farcical reasoning. It goes without saying that such unpropitious undertaking brought the lives of thousands who earn their living through the World Wide Web to a standstill and must have been rather costly for an already faltering Iranian economy. The abrogation of Shargh newspaper’s publication licence and the request by a member of parliament for its caricaturist to be given the maximum sentence, also materialised whilst the President was lecturing other world leaders about Freedom of Information which, albeit being poignant, is not rare in Iranian Politics; the editor in chief of the Shargh newspaper has also joined the rank of other authors who have been detained.
During his oration to the UN General Assembly, President Ahmadinejad further addressed the injustices and Discriminations in the world as he perceives them. However, these utterances are averred during the very time when those who are of his particular school of thought have turned the populace of the earthquake ridden region of Azerbaijan, who are facing a humanitarian catastrophe, into a second class citizenry.
Undoubtedly, the Presidents and his cohorts deem these public speeches as a public relation bonanza and an excellent propaganda investment which in turn, as far as they are concerned, justifies the ensuing expenses. The President indubitably sees the UN as a tribune that allows him to engage with other nations and thus perceives it as a viable vehicle for the Propagation of the Revolution. Moreover, the President further deems the forum provided by UN General Assembly as a promotional tool to be utilised for the advocacy of the Islamic Republic and to this end he will spare no expense. This is by no means the first time the Iranian Government saddles its people with such cumbersome debts as part of an endeavour to propagandise and/or perpetuate the Revolution. Various sources have chosen to highlight the expenses garnered by the visits of the Iranian Supreme Leader himself. Visits which were often deployed as means of acquiring acceptability for the regime by doling-out large sums to various countries or even continents.
Lebanon is a prima facie of the above described prodigality. Four month ago, the head of the Lebanese Hezbollah, Mr. Hassan Nasrallah, in an interview with a Persian news-agency detailed at length the particulars of the Islamic Republic’s financial extravagance in Lebanon. He stated: “Before the end of the war [with Israel] I contacted our Iranian brethrens and notified them of our intention to immediately initiate reconstruction, as the enemy wishes to negotiate with us under the current unfavourable social and humanitarian conditions. Imam Khamenei, in his benevolence, agreed that this should not be allowed and the President concurred. The task at hand progressed so rapidly that we initiated reconstruction on the first day following the ceasefire”. He continued “… during the few months after the war, large parts of devastated areas were rebuilt, domestic residences were reconstructed and homes were renovated, all of which was made possible by the financial assistance of the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
In achieving its objectives the Islamic Republic has not been avers to such huge expenditures. Accordingly, the Iranian Supreme Leader does not question the President as to the need of taking such a large entourage to the United States and does not query as to the use of so many individuals. Consequently, nobody asked the President why was it that at the height of the recent earthquake crises he went to Mecca and left the survivors to their own device. Due to his untimely trip, the Iranian Parliamentarians, who seem to have taken leave of their parliamentary duties, failed to pass an immediate reconstruction act and have apparently – according to The Member for Ahar – decided to rebuild only fifty of the nineteen thousand domestic abodes devastated; thus unwisely devising the precursor for a humanitarian disaster during the winter.
The Islamic Republic which seems to constantly be causing humanitarian calamity of various kinds, sent its representatives to the UN so that in view of the worldwide ordinance he could go on at length about injustice,and the President spoke of injustice and discrimination in the world as though the Iranian People are not blighted by both. However, it seems that the recriminations of the President are no longer given any attention by world leaders and derivatively, even the spokesman for the US State Department, Mr. Allen Air, asserted that the disparity between Mr. Ahmadinejad’s deeds and demeanour grows deeper annually.
It seems that the Iranian governing elite harbor the illusion that the world is in the pre-enlightenment error or that everyone is of their own constituents and as such will indisputably and unquestionably, without being presented with reasons or evidence, accept their various assertions. Mr. Allen Air underscored the violation of human rights in Iran and asserted, “…this year President Ahmadinejad spoke of solidarity, ethics, wisdom and world administration, albeit the lack of accountability and responsibility of the Iranian government, which is acutely apparent to its own society as well as the international community.”
The numerous accounts of Iranian government’s infringement of human rights which includes innumerable occasions of habeas corpus, incarceration and flogging of dissidents, forcing confessions, discrimination and segregation of woman in the name of augmenting societal safety, defaulting on labourers’ salaries, circumventing press freedoms, individual inequalities, fiscal impropriates and legal insecurities, etc. are not incidences that can easily be hidden from the gaze of the watching world; albeit one being able to vent the criticism as to why they aid not the Iranian People while their Human Rights are being so blatantly encroached upon.
President Ahmadinejad wishes to fill his predecessor boots as being someone who, like President Khatami, introduced important plans, programs and proposals, not knowing that his conduct has vastly diminished not only his stature but also the status of the Iranian People. On a more grandiose scale, this fault also arises from the very ilk of the Islamic Republic itself which always aspires to be construed as a world power as far as realpolitik is concerned. Correspondently, the President makes mention of unity between nations as a way of building a World Power Structure and never seizes for a moment to ask himself whether he would relinquish his favourable position if he were in place of large world powers.
Reviewing the historical administration of the Islamic Republic will lead one to irrefutably conclude that the answer to the above prescribe question is a resounding “NO”. The Iranian leaders are not willing to relinquish or distribute their own power through the ballot box even in the very country they govern and are completely indifferent to public aspirations and opinions. However, the head of this government stipulates a world governance design to which he himself is not an adherent. The President, who frequently referred to Iranian men of stature and intellect in his speech, would have done well to heed this part of their acumen which affirms, ‘actions speak louder than words’.
(Behrooz Behbudi (PhD) is the Founder of the Council for a Democratic Iran)