Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Green Movement in Iran Issues New Manifesto in Wake of Arab Uprising

Editor’s Note: The following text was given to by a group of intellectuals who are leaders in the Green Movement in Tehran. They are also the authors of this manifesto.

We, dozens of groups of Green activists in Iran, have decided to offer several recommendations for the reform and strengthening of the Green Movement. These recommendations have emerged as a result of our experiences in Iran over the past two years as well as the experiences of those in other countries in the Middle East that recently have had popular revolutions aimed at overthrowing their dictatorships. These recommendations are the result of repeated discussions and debates among leaders of Green cells inside Iran, many of whom have suffered imprisonment, beatings, or other violence during demonstrations since the emergence of this popular movement.

The continued house arrest of the leaders of the Green Movement inside Iran and the conditions in which demonstrations have been attempted after their imprisonment requires that the Green leadership outside the country review and reform its tactics and strategy so that the great social capital obtained by the Green Movement after the coup d’etat of the summer of 2009 is not lost. Moreover, Greens inside and outside the country alike need to develop new tactics and strategies in order to utilize and channel effectively the ever-rising economic, political, and social discontent within our country and to ensure that the movement does not split or falter.

This short blueprint/manifesto is divided into three sections, constituting what we believe needs to be done to expand the breadth of the Green Movement’s actions and operations if it is to become victorious at this critical juncture in history. The sections address three necessary rubrics: Inspiration, Organization, and Action. Based on Mir Hossein Moussavi’s systematic statements after the coup d’etat and those of Mehdi Karroubi, the Green Movement leadership must present a concise but comprehensive critique and condemnation of the economics and politics of the present despotic system and present our alternative to it. It must offer an explanation for the grievances of the various socioeconomic and ethnic groups within our society and then offer inspiration and organization to the people in order to motivate and provide them the path to take action to remedy this deteriorating situation.

I. Inspiration.

The inspiration that is at the heart of the movement must be recognized and its message actively propagated to all involved: The Green Movement is not a uniform undifferentiated mass. It consists of a myriad of peoples who, together, represent the cultural, ethnic, religious, and social fabric of our diverse society, and they are deeply concerned about the fate of their beloved country and religion. The principles that unite all Greens are the goals of rule of law, respect for human rights, and the supremacy of popular sovereignty over all state and government institutions, including the post of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of the Revolution. Thus, we reject the suggestion of the former reformist president, Mohammad Khatami, that we Greens and the supporters of Khamenei (in other words, the supporters of despotism) apologize to each other and go forward from there. Such a suggestion is irresponsible and ignores not only the coup d’etat of 2009, but also the massive violence used against our society by Khamenei and his system that resulted in, among other things, the murder and rape of our youth. We believe that Khatami’s suggestions in this regard are dangerous and threaten splits in the Green Movement and, if accepted, will result in a loss of our social capital. Khatami’s discourse of reform is over, since Khamenei and those behind him have shown that they are unwilling to take this course and will resort to murder and mass suppression in order to ensure their political and economic interests.

We believe that this goal of the complete subordination of all government and state posts to direct popular sovereignty needs to be clearly and repeatedly stated so that people know clearly for what they are fighting. Without a doubt, most people in our society want this political change. The time for hesitation and talk of reformism in this regard has finished.

To the working and lower classes, we must offer an end to exploitative wages, and instead work toward true, effective trade unions, protected by law, and improvements in living standards and economic well-being. This goal cannot be achieved in the state structure we have today, as it is politically and economically corrupt and is not answerable to anyone.

To ethic and religious groups, we Greens must actively propagate the promise of cultural and ethnic autonomy, which was expressed as well by Karroubi and Moussavi during the presidential elections.

To women, the Green Movement must actively propagate the idea that women must have equal rights as men before the law.

To the religious part of our society, we Greens must stress that our political goal of democratization will put an end to the abuse of religion by political opportunists and the supporters of despotism and authoritarianism to achieve and protect their political and economic interests. Religion is to be the model of morality, purity, and service to God, untainted by politics, corruption, murder, lying, and rape.

II. Organization.

  1. We suggest that a Green Council of some ten or so leading and known political and/or intellectual leaders (or whatever number is deemed appropriate) be formed in the absence of Moussavi and Karroubi. Members of this council would have to accept the ultimate leadership of Moussavi and Karroubi and their representatives, given the participation of these men in the election, their popular legitimacy inside the country, and their resistance to the despotism of Khamanei and those behind him. This council, during the absence of these two men, would (a) establish the goals of the Green Movement; (b) coordinate forms of protest and demonstrations; (c) propagate the goals and actions of the Green Movement and propaganda against the coup regime.
  2. The leadership of the Green Movement and/or the council needs to make a call for Greens to form individual Green groups across the country. This announcement would build on Moussavi’s idea that each person is a form of mass media. The size is not important. What is important is the construction of a country-wide network of Green “cells.” Certainly, many such cells already exist, having come into existence due to the initiative of individuals. But the network is not large enough. No success can be achieved without expansion of these cells. They are the heart of the movement. Given our experience on the street, a call for such cells will be greeted with acceptance. But it needs to be done quickly. Our social capital is not endless.
  3. A call needs to be propagated that Greens need to work harder on establishing their links with the working class and the urban working lower class. This movement cannot be successful if links are not made with these classes.
  4. We believe that the Green leadership needs to propagate actively the need for all local Green cells and even individuals to pass the word, either orally or through leaflets and pamphlets, about the goals of the movement and about future demonstrations and other forms of protest. We know that individuals and certain groups have been doing this. But more needs to be done in this regard.

III. Action.

  1. In the face of the brutality of Khamenei’s regime, the leadership of the Green Movement needs to choose methods of protest that will lessen the costs associated with protest for individuals yet maintain and expand popular mobilization behind the movement. Suggestions are strikes, boycotts, silent demonstrations similar to what we had on the anniversary of the election, days for wearing green, and organizing specific times when all Greens drive their cars—these are just some of the methods that can be utilized, until the full force of the working and lower classes enters this struggle for the future of our country.
  2. Expansion of the propaganda war. Greater systematic attention must be paid to the issues of corruption, the economic performance of the regime, murder and rape at the hands of the Khamenei regime, the linking of Khamenei with Ahmadinejad (with focus on his 19 June 2009 speech, in which he announced that his and Ahmadinejad’s views were very close).
  3. Regime morale—“name and shame” must be utilized. If possible, the names of those serving in security and basiji services engaged in beating, raping, and imprisoning the people need to be found and actively propagated through the Internet, mass media, and leaflets. Failing this, just pictures of these forces taken when in action or just on the street need to be propagated inside and outside the country.
  4. The names of those elites with extensive property and wealth abroad need to be found and propagated.
  5. We need to resurrect Moussavi’s statement, according to which those individuals—from regular basiji and other pawns to the leading officials of the regime, from Khamenei down—ordering and/or participating in violence against and killing of people will be eventually held accountable. This needs to be propagated consistently, through mass media from abroad and leaflets and pamphlets here in Iran.
  6. The point needs to be made consistently that, given the certainty of the eventual victory of the Greens, there will be a policy of forgive but not forget. If officials from low positions to high positions who have not participated in or ordered the murder and rape of people come to our side, we will accept them. However, there is a time limit on this.

In conclusion, we would like to stress that this piece was made by us only as a set of suggestions and an expression of serious worry over the current state of the Green Movement. The above text is the result of debates, study, and the varied of experience of Greens on the frontline inside Iran, and our collective opinion of what is needed by our movement. We understand that most of what we have proposed without doubt can be improved and perfected as we move forward. In addition, we realize that many of these suggestions are not new. However, most of them have not been implemented or have been implemented only partially, which has resulted in a temporary but severe weakening of the Green Movement. We hope that the decision-makers outside of Iran will take seriously these suggestions. It no longer can be naively assumed that the despotic side of this regime simply will collapse due to its inner contradictions and power struggles. We on the ground have to create pressure and the conditions for its implosion. We here in Iran are looking for decisive participation from Green leaders abroad. The movement here in Iran can be rejuvenated and propelled to victory if such leadership is provided. If not, we regret to say, we feel this movement will just become another failed attempt to bring freedom, dignity, and respect to our country.

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