March 29, 2011

Experts: Nonviolence, Human Rights Focus are Best Options for Iran’s Democracy Movement

Washington DC— “Violence can achieve short-term results quickly, but after that has been achieved, then problems arise,” said Roberto Toscano, Italian ambassador to Iran from 2003 to 2008. “Although, nonviolence is a moral option, it happens to coincide with the strategic option.”

Toscano and Ramin Jahanbegloo, an author and intellectual who served four months of solitary confinement in Iran, discussed the importance and effectiveness of the Green Movement’s nonviolent approach at a Carnegie Institute event moderated by Karim Sadjadpour.

Jahanbegloo insisted the destructiveness of violence outweighs its utility for Iran’s pro-democracy movement. “In a war of violence, those who have more weapons and more armaments and more strength, they win. So civil societies have never won with violence against regimes.”

Toscano added that even Iranians who are radically against the government are not in favor of using violence. “They know what the price to pay is and they know that violence cannot guarantee a better, different political setup,” he said.

The speakers agreed that a nonviolent approach that delegitimizes the Iranian government and that erodes its power bases is the most effective one.

Toscano added that it is important for the Green Movement to start focusing more on social and economic issues, including corruption, to expand its message.

Both Toscano and Jahanbegloo agreed that the international community can aid Iran’s pro-democracy movement by paying as much attention to human rights violations as to the nuclear issue. Toscano said that the appointment of a human rights monitor at the United Nations Human Rights Council is an important step in the right direction.

“Everybody is talking about the nuclear program, [but] this is the last thing that Iranians are thinking about,” Jahanbegloo said.




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