Iran: Transcript Q&A on 16 year old's Execution
TV International English http://www.anternasional.tv/english
Transcripts of interviews responding to questions on nuclear-free Iran and 16 year old Atefeh’s execution by the Islamic regime
* Iran should be nuclear-weapons free, Interview with Ali Javadi
* On the execution of Atefeh Rajabi, Interview with Maryam Kousha
* Iran should be nuclear weapons-free
Interview with Ali Javadi
Maryam Namazie: Your recent interview entitled ‘against Iran’s nuclear aims’ raised several questions amongst viewers. One was that the Non-Proliferation Treaty allows for states to have nuclear capabilities for peaceful means. Why can’t Iran have such capabilities like all other countries?
Ali Javadi: I don’t think that is the objection at hand. At least as far as the International Atomic Agency is concerned, they are not saying that Iran should not have access to peaceful nuclear technology. What is being said is that the Islamic regime of Iran is attempting to acquire nuclear weapons and ammunitions - the degree of uranium found in some of its sites attest to that. So the issue is not whether Iran should or shouldn’t have nuclear technology for peaceful purposes. I think any state should have it as long as it is used within the confines of peaceful purposes such as electricity or other domestic uses, and not for military purposes. My position and that of the Worker-communist Party of Iran’s is categorically against any state in the world from having weapons of mass destruction (WMD). By their very definition, they are weapons used against people and therefore we demand the elimination of all such weapons. At the same time, we are opposed to anyone and any state acquiring any new technology that would enable them to build WMD. In this instance, we are against the Islamic regime of Iran gaining these weapons because we are also fighting to overthrow this regime and we don’t want to see political Islam having access to nuclear weapons as it will even better equip them to slaughter more people.
Maryam Namazie: Someone’s written a letter saying it is hypocritical for you or anyone or any country that possesses nuclear weapons to tell others not to have them?
Ali Javadi: It is hypocritical of those states and we are critical of that but it is not hypocritical for me who am categorically against any state or anyone having these weapons. We belong to the movement that demands the elimination of all WMD. Obviously 90 percent of these weapons are in the hands of the USA and its allies, NATO, Russia, China forces and so on. Iran is a special case for us because it is attempting to acquire nuclear weapons and we are trying to overthrow that regime. Neither we nor humanity can tolerate their acquiring such weapons. Their track record against the people of Iran is renowned. It’s hypocritical for those states to say so because they have it but for us it is a very solid position since we are against all WMD and in this particular case against the Islamic regime from acquiring any.
Maryam Namazie: Someone has written saying it has been proven that the USA will attack countries without nuclear weapons like Iraq so how can you justify opposing Iran gaining access to them when it could be a precondition for preventing a US attack on Iran?
Ali Javadi: These are arguments to defend the Islamic regime of Iran or come from a position that is so anti-USA that it does not see the realities in the world. I think that Bush and the ruling class of the USA cannot easily attack Iran or the Islamic regime. The balances of forces, the international situation of the Islamic regime and so on are different from Iraq. I don’t think they have such a plan in the near future. And obviously everyone knows the consequences of such a plan would be devastating for many years to come in the Middle East.
If anyone is truly interested in stopping George Bush and the US ruling class from attacking Iran or anywhere else and causing devastation and regression in the lives of people, they should join the anti-war movement, the third camp against the ruling class of western countries as well as political Islam and the Islamic movement. That is if anyone has that interest in mind. That is a more solid approach rather than joining the camp of the Islamists and defending their gaining access to WMD so that they can be more equipped militarily to fight the USA’s forces and its allies - the other barbaric camp in the world.
Maryam Namazie: Someone has written saying that when you stand against a nuclear Iran you’re actually defending the foreign policies of the USA and UK governments and helping the USA promote its regime change from above. What would you say to that?
Ali Javadi: Just as we are unequivocally against Iran acquiring nuclear weapons, we are also against the USA attacking Iran and implementing its regime change policy, which can only bring devastation and destruction to the society. But there is a third position - that is the whole beauty of it. That is you can be against the Islamic regime acquiring WMD and against the USA government’s policy for regime change at the same time and be on the side of the people, humanity and the working class. That is the side people can choose. The only way we can guarantee that the Islamic regime does not acquire WMD is by overthrowing it via leading and organising the revolution that is fermenting in Iran and bringing it to its positive conclusion. The regime change policy of the USA or even the threats to attack Iran by Israel or other forces will not be able to stop the regime from acquiring these weapons. The only viable way is for the people to overthrow the regime and eliminate the potential for acquiring WMD whilst opposing US policy at the same time.
Maryam Namazie: Someone has written a letter quoting your saying "Peaceful technology and peaceful use of nuclear technology is something that is obviously within the domain of all countries but the Islamic regime is geared towards developing WMD and nuclear weapons. These Islamic beasts, this political movement must not be allowed to be equipped with the atomic bomb. As it is they are a machinery of killing." She goes on to say ‘Iran is not the Islamic regime only. Iran is a land with its people. You have a very low opinion of Iranians.’ Is that the case?
Ali Javadi: This is a nationalist position. Obviously the people of Iran are separate from the regime! The regime of Iran is a brutal imposition on the society and the people. But right now we are talking about the Islamic regime acquiring WMD. By overthrowing the Islamic regime of Iran we don’t want to have any WMD. We are promoting a policy that Iran should be nuclear weapons-free. We do not seek to have WMD. Anybody who cares for peace, justice, liberty and humanity should see that. WMD by their definition are for use against people. In the final analysis, when someone pushes the nuclear button, hundreds of thousands will be killed and maimed and civil society will be pushed back for generations. That’s the essence of what we are saying. We don’t want to see any WMD neither in Iran, the USA, Israel, Pakistan, India or anywhere else.
Maryam Namazie: Contrary to what the viewer has said, in fact you have a very high regard for human beings and Iranians that you don’t want nuclear weapons to be in the hands of the Islamic regime.
Ali Javadi: Anyone with any regard for humanity should be against WMD.
Maryam Namazie: Another viewer wrote from a completely different position, asking whether it wouldn’t be safer for the world to just bomb Iran's nuclear facility to ensure it doesn’t gain access to WMD?
Ali Javadi: This is an adventurist militaristic position. What would happen if such an attack took place: it would have devastating consequences like Chernobyl and it would cause terrible casualties for people living in the surrounding areas. It would be devastating. And it wouldn’t stop the regime from equipping itself with such WMD. The only viable way to stop the regime gaining such access is by its revolutionary overthrow and that is what we are working towards.
Maryam Namazie: One final question, what is the difference between your stance and those of the questions received vis-à-vis human beings?
Ali Javadi: I don’t think they are defending humanity nor promoting the elimination of all WMD. In the fight between the Islamic movement/political Islam and western governments - the imperialist powers so to speak - they are taking sides and they are taking the side of the Islamic regime of Iran. We on the other hand are siding with the people.
The above is an International TV (http://www.anternasional.tv/english) interview dated September 27, 2004.
* On the execution of Atefeh Rajabi
Interview with Maryam Kousha
Maryam Namazie: Atefeh Rajabi, a 16 year old girl, was executed on August 15, 2004 by the Islamic regime of Iran for ‘acts incompatible with chastity’. The judge personally put the rope around her neck and left her body hanging in the city square for 45 minutes as a lesson to passers-by. This has outraged everyone and people are asking how this could happen in the 21st century. Upon broadcasting this news, someone wrote saying they could believe almost anything from the regime but this.
Maryam Kousha: In a way the person who has asked this question is right. We who know about the news coming from Iran everyday, know that it is just unbelievable. It is horrendous that such things happen in this day and age. Even if it happened 2000 years ago, it would still be horrendous. I know horrendous things happen everyday, but executing a 16 year old for something that everybody, you and I, take for granted makes it unbelievable. But unfortunately it is happening in countries like Iran. It has happened in Afghanistan, Iraq and most Middle Eastern countries. It happens even in the heart of Europe. We have seen so many so-called “honour killings” for the same reason. The difference is that in countries like Iran it is state violence. Violence against women is not only practiced, but also encouraged. In Europe, you see honour killings but the governments obviously do not support it in law. If they catch you doing it, you will be sentenced. But such crimes are still acceptable within the various “communities”. In Iran, as I said it is pure state violence.
Maryam Namazie: We received another letter stating that when they hear about such executions, they think that the Mullahs, the clergymen themselves should be jailed, tortured or even executed. They should be punished for what they’ve done to young lives and the agony and suffering that they have imposed for 25 years in Iran. What is your opinion on that?
Maryam Kousha: I believe most people are humanitarians. People do not want humankind to be hurt. It is our nature. Somebody sees a crime happening: A 16 year old being hanged in public; it is just heartbreaking. Even if it is your enemy you do not want to see that horrific scene. The person asking the question is putting him/herself in the position of the judge who passes the sentence or in the position of a citizen of Iran and asks what the hell is going on? If it were up to me, what would I have done? When you have this rage, the immediate thing coming to your mind is who has executed her? I am going to execute him! But as we know this is not the answer. It shows some sort of concern in a way as to what can be done. I agree with the person asking the question. Yes we should do something about it. But the answer is not executing yet another person. We are not looking for somebody in this scenario to execute. We are trying to find out why Atefeh was executed; what system allowed it to happen. She had, as you said, sexual relations with someone. That is her freedom. You have the right to choose what you want to do with your life. Freedom both for women and men. That RIGHT has been taken away from her. That is the issue here. Going back to the question, what caused it? Who did it? Was it the court? Was it the actual judge? Was it he personally? The judge and the rest of the Islamic regime’s officials should be prosecuted in the international court of justice. That is the way to treat them. We should not be talking about executing the whole lot of them no matter how much we hate them. I understand the sentiment behind that question. Because you are angry, you want to do something about it, you want to find the real culprit but their execution is not the answer.
Maryam Namazie: Another person wrote asking why the man who she had sexual relations with was given a 100 lashes whilst Atefeh was executed. He has asked us to talk about the fact that there is such discrimination in the penal codes of the Islamic Republic of Iran and violence against women particularly. What is your comment on that?
Maryam Kousha: In this case we have seen 100 lashes inflicted on the man. In many cases even that doesn’t happen. The man somehow disappears! Even if we say there are different sorts of punishments for the same crime for men and women, there are two ways of looking at it.
1- Look at the situation as it is, accepting the rules of the regime, respecting it and seeing how unjust it is within its own framework.
2- Question the whole set of rules and the law.
I tend to choose the second. If you want to get bogged down into the legal system in Iran, after a while it becomes comic. The fact that Islam is discriminatory is clear in every chapter of the Koran. (This is obvious to everybody. Just look at Iran; women have to cover their bodies, men don’t; women do not have the same rights as men have; they inherit less than men and so on.) But we are not here to argue this and try to get the same rights for women and men within the framework of the Koran. We don’t accept the framework in the first place. We want to go beyond the framework.
There are some ‘reformists’ who accept the framework and want to somehow sugar coat it or gain some reforms within that framework. We are not in that business because we know from history and experience that it just does not work. We question the whole thing. We are not here to say that punishment between men and the women should be the same! Either both should be sentenced to 100 lashes or both be executed! What we are saying is that none of them should be punished in the first place. It is a good question but it depends on how you look at it. If you answer it within the framework of the existing law, you won’t go far, but questioning the whole law would yield more favourable results.
Maryam Namazie: Someone else has written and has asked where the Koran is in this situation? They say, if it were according to the Koran, there would have had to be four witnesses to have seen this sexual act. In that case she wouldn’t have been executed if they had actually followed the Koran. What are your comments on that?
Maryam Kousha: Lets be honest, it is not rocket science to figure this one out. Let’s say you were going to have sexual relations with somebody, you don’t go to your neighbour and say hello I need 4 people to come and have a look and be a witness to what I am doing! You don’t do that. So these complementary sentences in the Koran following section after section or chapter, as I said before, become comic. One of the purposes these verses serve is for scholars to sit down in a debate to discuss that the Koran could be progressive. They could say look at this section, use this sentence or that sentence. People in Iran have seen what it does and they do not need these references. We have seen these verses in action far too many times. People in Iran do not take them seriously.
Maryam Namazie: Another question is from an Iranian living in Spain. He says that he is left and believes that secularism is important in Iran, but he says perhaps most of our citizens in Iran are too used to stoning, amputations and discrimination. And given their mentality along with the judiciary system, we shouldn’t be amazed or surprised that this is happening and he is not sure if we could ever have a secular system in Iran. What do you think?
Maryam Kousha: I think what I’ve said so far and what I’m about to say reflect more of the sentiments and passion and the way of thinking of the majority of the people in Iran, rather than the very small section that would say the Koran is the way. Only a minority accepts Islamic values and way of life. But the majority do not. Nobody, not even the most vicious person, would ENJOY looking at somebody being decapitated or being executed in public (or in secret) or seeing a body part amputated. The majority of people in Iran, especially women, are sick and tired of what is going on. They are striving to gain their freedom and rights. The mere fact that the Islamic regime needs to hang a 16-year-old in public shows that people in Iran are not used to it. If it was something that you were used to, clapped for and had no problems with, the Islamic regime of Iran would not have had the need to use it as a tool to terrorise people or teach them a lesson. The reason why they resort to such actions is because they know people do not want what the regime is “offering” and has done for more than two decades. So THAT in itself shows that the statement in the question is not really true. The other part of the viewer’s comment is true. People in Iran demand secularism and separation of religion from the state.
The above is an International TV (http://www.anternasional.tv/english) interview dated September 13, 2004.