Today is the 35th anniversary of Iran’s 1979 revolution.
There have been achievements in Iran since the 79 revolution. Iran’s cinema has flourished. It has won an Oscar. There have been investments in rural areas, and advancement in literacy rates (although I suspect that this would have eventually happened under the Shah too). And there are limited elections in Iran and criticism of the government.
However overall, the revolution has been a failure.
In terms of economy and politics, in many areas life in Iran today is worse than it was in 1979.
Yes there are now more political institutions and elections in Iran than during the Shah. But overwhelming majority of the power in Iran remains in the hands of the unelected regime bodies such as the judiciary, the various intelligence bodies and the Supreme Leader himself. Choosing the president in limited elections, something which Iranians could not do during the Shah has not improved fundamental issues such as human rights. In fact life has gotten worst.
The numbers speak for themselves. According to political historian Ervand Abrahamian:
Mass executions turned prisons into morgues. Whereas less than 100 political prisoners had been executed between 1971 and 1979, more than 7,900 were executed between 1981 and 1985. …In the prison literature of the Pahlavi era, the recurring words had been “boredom” and “monotony.” In that of the Islamic Republic, they were “fear,” “death,” “terror,” “horror,” and, most frequent of all, “nightmare” (kabos ).
The president has little power in Iran (just don’t tell Prime Minister Netanyahu). The best he can do is to try and change the country’s economic system and foreign policy. And even then his hands are tied. The framework within which he can operate in terms of foreign policy is set by the unelected supreme leader Khamenei.
And when it comes to human rights, the president has little to no control. We saw President Khatami trying hard to improve human rights. Where did that get him? He was challenged all the way, and the little progress he did make was reversed during Ahmadinejad who initially was much closer to Ayatollah Khamenei. And in terms of corruption which is getting worse in Iran every year, it is still the unelected judiciary which is in charge.
There have been achievements in Iran. Undeniably so. However the fact remains that the life of an Iranian citizen is worth far less to its rulers after the revolution than before. So forgive me for not thanking Iran’s post revolution rulers for the revolution.
The 1979 revolution was the realization of a dream for the establishment of democracy in Iran. Make no mistake, the people of Iran were promised freedom. However it turned out to be a lie, told by one of Iran’s most senior clergymen, Ayatollah Rouhalloh Khomeini.