May 26, 2002 Special Dispatch No. 384

Iranian Dissident to Khamenei: 'You Are An Evil Ruler'

May 26, 2002
Iran | Special Dispatch No. 384

Muhammad Muhsen Sazgara, one of the founders of the 'Revolutionary Guards' [Sepah-I-Pasdaran], the owner of a publishing house, and publisher of three papers closed by the Iranian regime, is today one of the leading critics of the Iranian regime.[1] Recently Sazgara published a personal letter to Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei[2], in which he criticizes Iran's foreign, education, economic, and internal policies and refers to Khamenei as "an evil ruler." The following are excerpts from the letter:

Isolationist Foreign Policy"Your policy is built on creating enemies and continuing [old] enmities. It is based on the assumption that international enemies are trying day and night to overthrow the Iranian regime… As a result, Iran has become an isolated country, at a time that we need good relations with the rest of the world."

Oppressive Education Policy
"[Y]our polarization theory is that Iran has opened, through its Islamic Revolution, a new path for mankind… and for this reason the materialistic world is plotting against the Iranian revolutionary culture, and is trying to destroy its spiritual values and… the belief in Islam and the Islamic Republic…"

"Based on this assumption the [Iranian] government justifies interfering in all cultural affairs in the country. The government has a monopoly on dissemination of information and it controls the thoughts of the people and their right to speak…"

"The fact is that mankind is neither drowning in corruption and decadence nor are we [the Iranians] so pure and holy. We are a nation like other nations, a country like other countries. With deep humility we have to know that we need to learn. Your policies allow the government to interfere in all facets of people's lives, and more importantly, have blocked our cultural interaction with other nations, so we are suffering political and cultural isolation, in the age of information and communication."

Repressive Domestic Policies
"[A]ll military, security, legislative, judicial, and cultural affairs and even daily budgetary matters, have to be handled in accordance with the wishes of one individual, and if it is against your wishes it has to change [to suit them]. In democratic societies the opposition - regardless how small - has the right to speak, but in Iran even if they are the majority, they do not have the right to speak…"

"[A]nyone opposing you is serving - knowingly or unknowingly - [foreign interests] and therefore should be stopped, either by force or through imprisonment by court action…"

Failed Economic Policies
"Huge foundations such as [The Mustaz'afin Fund] with billions upon billions of tummans [Iranian currency] is entirely under your exclusive control… hundreds of institutions are controlled by the government or by government appointees…"

"The country's gross income is 70% of what it was in 1977 [two years before the Shah was dethroned] and capital investment has been reduced to 40% of what it was in 1977. Unemployment is at a record high and the inflation rate is one of the highest in the world..."

"The Iranian economy is close to disaster. Taking into account that we have one of the youngest populations in the world on average - this disaster becomes a catastrophe."

"You have to start with yourself: Economic foundations under your control must revert to ownership by the people, and other foundations and monopolies connected to the government must also revert to the people. Isolationist economic policies are inviting disaster. We have to interact with the world. This is not the time for us to go behind closed doors and borders…"

"To save the economy we have no choice but to create a democracy as well as cultural, political, and economic interaction with the world. The first step in this direction is to give the control over the economy and over the foundations to the people, and eliminate government interference in people's lives."

"If you do not see any necessity in any of this, look at the dimensions of the current economic disaster in the country and at the poverty and hunger of the people, and the destiny of millions of unemployed youth… Look today because tomorrow may be too late…"

A Personal Address
"Mr. Khamenei,[3] I am not afraid of you and should not be, because I believe in Allah and his power. We are all under his domain and he is the one who runs the universe. But you have to rule in such a way that no one in this country will be afraid of you."

"As we have learned from the leaders of our religion: The weakest should be able to tell you what they want without stuttering or fear, and ask for justice. If you act contrary to this, you are guilty of cruelty against the right of the people. Threats of imprisonment and intimidation of the people when they criticize you do not become you. This is the style of evil rulers and cruel kings. Let us not forget that we are all followers of the Prophet, who said: 'The best Jihad is saying words of truth to an evil ruler…'"

[1] Sazgara's publishing house is "Contemporary Society" ("Jame'e Emrooz"). The names of the papers are: "Society" ["Jame'e"], "Joy" ["Neshat"], and "Toos," taken from the name of a village near Mashhad, the birthplace of Ferdowsi, the renowned Iranian national poet of the 11th century.


[3] Sazgara refrains from addressing Khamenei by his religious title Ayatollah. It is noteworthy that Khamenei was granted this title when he was nominated supreme leader, because he did not possess the religious rank that is needed for the position.

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