Undercover Iran - Inside the Hidden Revolution
Channel4 broadcast this programme yesterday evening, but I have only just a little while ago had the opportunity to watch the videotape I recorded.
Jane Kokan, a Canadian journalist, provided detailed evidence of the brutality of the current Iranian theocratic regime - truly sickening undercover video evidence was shown of barbaric punishments being carried out (removal of an eye as punishment, stoning to death of adulterers, removal of a hand using a guillotine-type blade) as well as evidence of torture, beatings and general thuggery by the regime's agents.
Unfortunately, the regime that existed before the mullahs came to power was pretty brutal, too. Although the Shah was very pro-western, and sought to modernise the country, the brutality of the Savak security police was notorious.
A number of Iranian dissidents outside Iran were interviewed and their desire to see the end of theocracy in Iran must be applauded. Specially pertinent was one individual who said he wanted his country to become a 'liberal democracy' where 'religion would have no place'. He went on to say that religion should be a purely private matter, that people should be able to practise whatever religion (or none) they wished to, but that it should have no influence on state or public matters. I sincerely hope that such an outcome might be possible. However, the danger is that the west could 'get into bed' with a faction seemingly acceptable to us, but which turns out to be just another brutal dictatorship in the making. Just like the Shah, in his day. Sincere efforts to help the Iranian dissidents to achieve the liberation of their country are undoubtedly warranted, although I don't envy our own diplomats and security services who may have to decide whom amongst the various factions to support, tacitly or more visibly, if any. After all, Saudi Arabia is a pretty brutal place today for those who attempt to challenge the power of the ruling family, and Koweit was not exactly a shining democracy before the invasion by Iraq in 1990. As is being made abundantly clear by what is going on in Iraq today, transition to 'democracy' may perhaps be facilitated by outside intervention, but without the visceral support of local people will never take root in a manner likely to be durable.