Are the Iranians ready for democracy? #Forum2000online

June 16, 2022

In this week’s #Forum2000online Chat, Ladan Boroumand, cofounder of the Abdorrahman Boroumand Center for the Promotion of Human Rights and Democracy in Iran, joined Hasler Iglesias, a Venezuelan activist for democracy and member of the National Committee of Voluntad Popular, to talk about the current situation in the country and the Iranian freedom movement. In the interview, Dr. Boroumand explains that the ecological, economic, and political scenario is critical and that the government is “destroying the system”. “The DNA of the Islamic government is not turned to the management of the country. It’s turned to God and to impose the God's will upon the world”, says Dr. Boroumand. In this context, what is the situation of the freedom movement? Are Iranians ready for democracy? What are the opportunities and challenges?

According to Ladan Boroumand, you will learn that:

  • Iran has been in turmoil for four years. There have been uprisings and protests against a government that lacks the skills and the know-how of management. The country has serious water, ecological, economic, and political problems.
  • Today, the number of people who are against the regime is more important than the number of people who support the regime, but the latter has been very effective in imposing its narrative and using violence against the Iranian society and the world. 
  • The control of society is much more difficult today. The digital revolution has played an important role because people, by seeing each other online, notice that they have power, the “power of the powerless”. There is concern about the impact of the digital revolution on established democracies, but in totalitarian regimes digital revolution has been very helpful.
  • The digital revolution with its means and tools, the only “weapons” Iranians have, has empowered the Iranian society. Citizens have used it in many ways building up a counternarrative and showing to Iranians and to the world that the ideal Islamic Iran portrayed by the regime’s propaganda does not exist.
  • The interaction and the articulation between virtual and real spaces have created a new dynamic that poses a challenge to the regimen because it is difficult to control.
  • Between 1997 and 2005, there was an important development of civil society organizations, many of them focused, for example, on human and women’s rights. But since 2005, the regime has been harassing activists and dissidents and destroying all these initiatives.
  • Until 2001, Western liberal democracies ignored Iran and submitted to its official narrative. After 2001, they realized that Islamism has become a danger for democracies.
  • Today, Iranians are culturally much more prepared for democracy than they were in 1979. The major obstacle is state violence.

The interview was recorded on June 13, 2022, and moderated by Hasler Iglesias, Venezuelan activist for democracy and member of the National Committee of Voluntad Popular.