Mousavi on the "Green Path of Hope"
05 Sep 2009 23:41
Demonstrations during the Iranian revolution of 1978-79. By MUHAMMAD SAHIMI in Los Angeles | 5 Sept 2009
Mir Hossein Mousavi, the main reformist candidate in Iran's presidential election of June 12, has issued a new statement explaining how he envisions the future and the role that the "Green Path of Hope," the movement that he is founding, can play in it. The strongly-worded statement accuses Ayatollah Khamenei -- without naming him -- and the hardliners of distorting Islam, violating the Constitution, destroying morality in society, and forgetting the ideals of the 1979 Revolution, the most important of which was political freedom for all.
The statement begins,
Dear decent, free, and informed Iranian nation:
Nearly three months ago, when you participated in Iran's 10th presidential election, you went to the ballot boxes with the belief that, based on the repeated statements of officials and the great efforts of civil organizations, your votes would be protected against the goals of a small power-hungry group. But, the repeated violations of the law, the organized fraud, and the bitter events that took place after the election created a tremendous regret from an event that could have been a great foundation for the future of the country.
Due to the unwise acts of the officials, a propaganda campaign by the state-controlled media [radio and television] and the attacks of the official and unofficial security forces on the peaceful gatherings of the people, the problem that could have been addressed fairly and without taking sides [by the officials] was turned into something totally unclear that created deep and broad social fissures [between the people and the government], the outcome of which is nothing but the loss of trust that people had in the political establishment.
A very large number of responsible people in the social, cultural, and political domains, the exalted sources of emulation [the grand ayatollahs], and the informed groups in the religious schools and academe reacted to the lies propagated by the state-controlled media, the show trials that have no basis in law or religion, the revelation of a long list of the victims, the inhumane treatment of those arrested, and the existence of illegal detention centers, and demand investigating them. In addition, all those who support the Islamic Republic, which is the fruit of the century-old struggle of the people for achieving freedom, independence [from foreign powers], and social justice and advancement under the guide of their religion, are worried [about the future of the country].
Preserving the territorial integrity and the national independence, and protecting the country against the greed of foreign powers, and defending the principles of the Islamic Republic in the accelerated events that are happening one after another, has necessitated, more than ever, finding a way out of the present [dire] situation, although we are all well aware that there are those in the governmental and quasi-governmental organizations who believe that the only way they can stay in power is through creating repeated crises and avoiding addressing the problems and difficulties they have created themselves.
They [the hardliners] are still trying to cover up and hide the present crises with even more severe crises and broadening their unwise behavior to dangerous limits, so much so that after creating so much complexity in the country, they have begun dangerous whispers, talking about expelling a large number of our responsible academics from the universities, without thinking about its dangerous consequences.
It is due to the present circumstances that creating a social movement (and not a governmental one) for addressing the problem has become unavoidable. [This movement] should draw from all the popular potentials of the Islamic Republic [meaning the rights specified in the Constitution]. The basis for the movement is accepting the reality of the existence of a wide variety of beliefs and thinking in the great, ancient, and God-believing nation of Iran. This is, in fact, the path of God's prophets and their successors... History shows that whenever governments have tried to destroy the variations existing in the thoughts and beliefs of a society, they have had to resort to dictatorship. The result has never been a unified society, but the emergence of hypocrisy in people's lives...
Over the past few months a powerful [social] force of our nation has been liberated, which must be employed for the long-term future of the nation. Our people are well aware of what they want, and saw what they can achieve through what took place over the past few months. They know that they have the power and capabilities to achieve what they want, and that the elite and the experts are also with them in this endeavor. Therefore, the question that we are all asking each other is what should be done with this renewed hope and the powerful capabilities [that exist]?
To answer the question, we must first be aware of what we should want in order to have the best and the most results. If we fail to find the right answer, at least a part of this powerful [social] force will be wasted...
Unlike the propaganda by the government, it is we who want the return of tranquility and trust [in the political system] to society, and it is we who avoid violence. We have very clear and rational demands: We want to preserve the Islamic Republic. Strengthening the national unity, the revival of moral identity of the political establishment, and rebuilding the popular trust as the most important component of power in the political structure of the country will not be possible except by accepting people's rights, gaining their ultimate satisfaction for the results of what the political establishment has done, and having complete transparency in whatever is done. In the green movement that has started we do not demand something unusual and untimely. What we want is the restoration of people's lost rights.
[But] Restoration of which rights? First and foremost are the rights that the Constitution has recognized for the people, and the demand for carrying them [articles of the Constitution that recognize the rights] out without taking anything away from them. Yes, the Constitution contains ways of managing some aspects of the country [meaning the distribution of power among the elected and unelected organs of the political system] that perhaps are not appropriate for the present state of our society and the world, but the same Constitution has also predicted ways of reforming them. In our national consensus and pact the legitimacy of all the pillars of the political system is based on the vote and trust of the people to the extent that even an organ like the Guardian Council [a Constitutional body that vets candidates for most elections and interprets the Constitution], which appears cannot be monitored by the people, can in fact be monitored by them.
Without being explicit, Mousavi is clearly referring to the institution of the Velaayat-e Faghih -- the guardianship of the Islamic jurist represented by the Supreme Leader who controls most levels of power -- when he mentions those aspects of the Constitution that "are not appropriate for the present state of society and the world." Again, without being explicit, he is also clearly referring to the article of the Constitution, which allows holding referendum on important issues that the nation faces, when he says that the Constitution has put in place ways of reforming those aspects. He also criticizes the Guardian Council, whose members are ordinary people and who like everyone else may commit errors and be seduced by power.
He then continues,
Yes, there is so much potential in the Constitution that has not been turned into practical reality. The officials react to this reality as if these [turning the potentials of the Constitution into reality] are mostahab [a religious term meaning something that if done would be good, but if not done, it would not be a sin or violation of laws]. No! It has never been that way! The officials must turn the potentials of the Constitution into reality. The Constitution is a document in one whole piece. One cannot emphasise those aspects that provide for the interests of certain people and groups, but ignore, or carry out incompletely those aspects that recognize people's rights.
After 30 years [since the 1979 Revolution] we still have some principles of the national pact [the Constitution] whose mention about putting to practice angers officials, as if the person who speaks about them has opposed the Islamic Republic. Providing people with social and political freedom; elimination of discrimination; judicial security and equality for all with respect to the law; inseparability of freedom, independence and territorial integrity of the country from one another, protection of people's credibility, belongings, and lives; banning inquisition; freedom of the press; banning inspection of [people's] letters, eavesdropping and any type of monitoring; freedom for [founding] political parties and groups; freedom for peaceful gatherings; depositing all of the government's earnings [meaning tax, oil income, etc.] in the national treasury; defining what constitutes political offense and having a jury [when one is put on trial for the offense]; freedom of expression and [having the opportunity to] speak about it on the Voice and Visage [the state-controlled national network of radio and television]... all have very clear articles [devoted to them] in the Constitution. These are the articles that are easily violated, or are put into practice incompletely and through interpretations that are the opposite of the true spirit of the national pact [the Constitution], to the extent that even teaching ethnic minorities in their own language has encountered difficulties.
The ideals of the Islamic Revolution have been treated the same way [by the hardliners]. We demand the revival of the forgotten goals that started this tremendous movement [the 1979 Revolution], the great slogans of the Revolution that [even] speaking about makes some angry as if these were the slogans of the counter-revolutionaries. One of them is freedom: Freedom of opinion, freedom of expression, freedom after the expression, freedom of electing and being elected, freedom with the meaning that our people had in mind as one of the most important goals of the Bahman 1357 [February 1979] revolution, so much so that the victory of the Revolution was called the spring of freedom. This [type of] freedom, meaning political freedom and the right to fearless criticism, has always frightened the rulers.
More oppressed than the Islamic Revolution, the Islamic Republic, and the Constitution is Islam itself, a religion that is mentioned often but practiced very little [by the hardliners]. They [the hardliners] filter religion so that whatever that does not suit their interests is forgotten, and their own views and expediency are introduced as the true Islam. This is done to the extent that indisputable lies are expressed on the Voice and Visage, and some of the worst offenses are introduced as commitment to the Prophet's religion, and torture and murder of imprisoned people [are justified], and other offenses that even embarrasses the pen from writing them down.
If there is one mission for a religious ruler, it is to lay a better ground on which people can base their lives on their religious beliefs. [If this is true] Why, then, has the gap between our society and a moral life been widening? This gap is not our revolutionary inheritance. In the hot summer of 1358 [the first summer after the Revolution in 1979] many people fasted for the first time in their lives [during the fasting month of Ramadan] and enjoyed the [moral] experience. This was our revolutionary inheritance. Our Revolution's inheritance was morality in society during the holy defense [the period of war with Iraq from 1980-1981].
So without naming him, Mousavi criticizes the Supreme Leader and his reign. He accuses him and the hardliners of distorting Islam, violating the Constitution, and forgetting about the true ideals of the 1979 Revolution, including and most importantly, freedom of expression and freedom to fearlessly criticize the government without persecution. He accuses Ayatollah Khamenei of destroying morality in society, instead of strengthening it as the religious ruler.
The statement continues,
Sacrificing people of Iran! There is a pact for the children of the Islamic Revolution, that in order to return it [the Revolution], to its original ideals, they must make every effort. And there is also a commitment on the part of your comrades and those who want to help you not to commit any treason in the struggle against liars and cheaters against the trust that had been created [between the people and the government]. At the same time, it is a duty of ours not to be afraid of blame and to be as courageous as we can when there is something that can be done in the interest of the country and the people.
Here Mousavi is saying that it is his duty to continue to aid the struggle of the people:
Therefore, it is based on such commitments that I suggest we continue the green path of the last several months in order to achieve our ideals. It is the Green Path of Hope, the path that you began before the election and are still continuing along with firm steps, a path full of prayers and takbir [shouting Allah-o Akbar, God is Great], small and large gatherings, personal efforts, discussions, and questions and answers.
But Mousavi makes it clear that the Green Path of Hope is not a political group or party, rather a social movement that builds from the bottom.
We call the movement a "path" because we do not wish to think of any success that we will have as an end [to the movement] by itself, rather we wish to always look forward to more advancements and achievements.
In the statement, Mousavi explains that he selected the color green as the symbol for its Islamic connotation. (The color had actually been suggested to Mousavi by one of his young supporters on a trip during his presidential campaign.)
Mousavi also makes it clear that the Green Path of Hope, as a movement for reviving and strengthening the national identity of Iran and Iranians, will emphasize the minimal common points and goals between all the political groups and parties in order to make it as broad as possible. He recognizes that the Iran of before and after the election are vastly different:
Compared with what existed before, our nation has undergone fundamental changes. A self-organized and vast social network that has taken roots in society is protesting the violation of its rights. The network has unique characteristics that must be considered when making decisions about the solutions [to the problems]. Thus, I suggest that the answer to the question of 'what should be done' is strengthening this social network. Our historical experience also indicates that people have achieved their [national] goals only when such networks have been strong and active. Thus, it is our present duty to be active for broadening the network.
Mousavi then explains how the task should be pursued:
We Iranians, wherever we are, must first strengthen the social nuclei among us. We should recognize the importance of such nuclei and try to strengthen them... In family gatherings, with our neighbors and friends, in gatherings for reading the holy Quran, in religious, cultural and literary societies, associations, political parties, labor unions, professional organizations, in groups of people who play sports together, or show up in artistic events, with our classmates, graduates who get together, colleagues that are friends... They all represent such social nuclei.
We will be successful if we get together around the same slogans [goals], deep slogans that can yield our demands. An important part of the capabilities of the movement that has emerged is due to the common slogan and ideals that we all share. A golden balance is an important characteristic of such slogans and ideals: If we add to them, some people will no longer adhere to them, and if we make them narrower, many people may not find any hope for themselves in it. If we wanted to participate only in an election, the maximum support would have been enough. But, a great social movement, the majority, can be victorious only when it achieves consensus, because then it will have irresistible legitimacy.
Mousavi then criticizes the fact that, despite huge oil income over the past four years, a significant part of society is still struggling with the basic necessities of life, and has to rely on handouts and donations by the government [that were distributed by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in order to attract votes].
He then says,
We believe that freedom will be lasting only if it is accompanied by social justice. Just as the present limitations for the freedom of expression and gathering are of great concern, so also is poverty, corruption, and discrimination on a vast scale...
Mousavi then outlines what the hardliners can do to get the country out of the present crisis. The minimum, in his view, includes the following:
- Forming a truth commission, one whose findings and verdicts are likely to be accepted by all sides, to investigate the violations of law, fraud during and after the election, and punishing those who were responsible.
- Revising the election law in such a way that free and fair elections can be held.
- Identifying and punishing those who were responsible for the crimes committed by all organs of the government, including military, police, and the media.
- Helping those who have been hurt and injured after the elections, especially those who have lost loved ones; releasing from prison all the campaign workers and political activists; dismissing the bogus charges against them; restoring their credibility, and ending all the threats against them.
- Putting into practice Article 168 of the Constitution by defining precisely what constitutes a political offense, and using a jury when the offenders are put on trial.
- Guaranteeing freedom of the press, and changing the biased behavior of the Voice and Visage in order to eliminate all the limitations on its programs so that the political parties can use the Voice and Visage to express their positions regarding various issues, and revising the law that governs the Voice and Visage to make it responsive to people's demands.
- Putting to practice Article 44 of the Constitution regarding privatization so that private radio and television stations can also be created.
- Guaranteeing the right of the people to gather and demonstrate by putting into effect Article 27 of the Constitution.
- Passing legislation forbidding the military from intervening in political as well as economic affairs.
The statement ends by saying,
We have entered a path that made the old young, and the young experienced. I ask God to help both you [the people] and myself.
Copyright (c) 2009 Tehran Bureau