Iran Election Guide

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A Video for Dissidents: Vaclav Havel on Activism, Opposition, and the Situation in Iran

Vaclav Havel --- playwright, essayist, dissident, and former President of the Czech Republic --- speaks with Tavaana:


I would recommend to them what I have been talking about --- to do certain things because they are the right things to do, because we believe that human beings should be free, that their human dignity should be respected, that there should be free elections....To stick to these basic ideals regardless of the odds of an immediate success.

I believe that their endeavour will be successful, just as ours was successful some twenty years ago.... But one cannot count on it. If things do not change immediately, one must not become desperate and skeptical, one must not conclude that the cause is hopeless and give up. One needs perseverance --- this is my main recommendation. 

And obviously any support from abroad is legitimate and may be accepted. Dictatorial regimes frequently tend to claim that their opponents are being manipulated by some foreign power, intelligence services, or foreign capital, that they are paid by foreign imperialists, and so on. If we know that this is nonsense, we should act accordingly rather than making some tactical concessions. Not accepting certain forms of aid because it could be used against us by the propaganda – that's precisely what the regime aims for: to break the people and to prevent them from engaging in a range of normal activities by the threat of propaganda.

I believe that in Iran, with its history of a powerful student movement, there is a potential for a peaceful conquest of certain opportunities that may not be available today, of enlarging and deepening the space of freedom and thus improving the overall situation.

Having met with dissidents from a broad range of countries –-- from China to Venezuela – I have discovered that the situation and the stakes are similar everywhere. One needs to have perseverance, keep smiling, stay aloof. One must detect lies and immediately reveal them as lies, one must not make any language compromises --- stylistic, ideological, etc. --- that way you can get easily caught in very dangerous webs without even knowing how it happened. So I would recommend perseverance and cheerfulness.

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