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News | 'Head Off This Brakeless Train': Haj Seyyed Javadi's Letter to Khamenei

by MUHAMMAD SAHIMI (translator)

29 Jan 2012 17:03Comments

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haj_seyed_javadi.preview.jpgTranslator's note: Dr. Ahmad Sadr Haj Seyyed Javadi is one of the oldest political activists in Iran. Born on June 24, 1917, in the historic city of Qazvin, 90 miles west of Tehran, he received a law degree and a doctorate in political science. He began his political career when he met Ayatollah Seyyed Reza Mousavi Zanjani, an ardent supporter of Prime Minister Dr. Mohammad Mosaddegh. Together with Mehdi Bazargan (1907-95), Dr. Yadollah Sahabi (1905-2002), and Ayatollah Seyyed Mahmoud Alaei Taleghani (1911-79), he was one of the founders of the Liberation Movement of Iran in 1961. That year, under the premiership of Ali Amini, he was appointed Tehran prosecutor and served in the post for about 18 months. After the LMI was banned, he joined the opposition to the Shah, and before the 1979 Revolution he represented the leading political figures and prisoners of that era, including the sociologist and distinguished Islamic scholar Dr. Ali Shariati (1933-77); Hojatoleslam Ali Khamenei, now Supreme Leader, and his brother-in-law Sheikh Ali Tehrani; Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri (1922-2007); Ayatollah Mohammad Reza Mahdavi Kani, now Assembly of Experts chairman; Hojatoleslam Sadegh Khalkhali, later notorious as the "hanging judge" of the postrevolutionary period; Ayatollah Seyyed Abdolhossein Dastgheib Shirazi (1913-81), who was assassinated by the Mojahedin-e Khalgh Organization; and others.

After the Revolution, he became a member of the Islamic Revolutionary Council and was appointed interior minister and then justice minister in Bazargan's provisional government. When Bazargan resigned on November 5, 1979, Haj Seyyed Javadi also exited the government. He was elected as the Qazvin representative to the first postrevolutionary Majles (1980-84). Similar to other prominent members of the Liberation Movement of Iran, he was arrested, convicted in a show trial, and then released after posting bail.

Despite his advanced age, Haj Seyyed Javadi continues to advocate democracy and national reconciliation. Seven months ago, he wrote a letter to Khamenei that -- with the exception of a brief report on it -- had remained almost entirely confidential. The letter has just been published by Kaleme, the website that reflects the views of Green Movement leader Mir Hossein Mousavi. In the letter, he warns Khamenei about President Mahamoud Ahmadinejad, calls for the release of all the political prisoners, particularly Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, and urges the abolition of the revolutionary courts. The following is a translation of the most important parts of the letter. -- Muhammad Sahimi

***

I had intended for a long time to bring to your attention a few issues but, being old and seriously ill, I have no strength to tell you face to face about my worries and concerns, and the gift of power and preoccupation with the government's work are also major obstacles for the officials to reach out occasionally to their past allies to see how they are doing. On the other hand, after repeated phone threats by the intelligence officers to several of my family members (my daughter and son's children) due to the public and legal correspondence that I have had with some domestic and international officials, friends and acquaintances have warned me about not creating extra problems for others. This kind advice of others locked my mouth for a while, but observing people's pain and the increasing repression of the society have bothered me so much that I decided that silence is no longer permitted, and that I can no longer satisfy myself with my own personal expediency, and at the same time the deterioration of my physical well-being might be such that even holding a pen may not be possible in the not too distant future and, thus, I decided to use this last opportunity and to write this letter.

Regardless of the political developments and events that are currently happening in the region, the main goal of this letter is to turn your attention to protecting the national interest, the necessity of the return of honesty to governance and order and tranquility to people's lives, and the problems and social complexities that have been imposed by the government that have created unbearable pressure on the people, particularly the political activists and their families. Given the power that you have, it is expected that you will take urgent and effective actions to address these [issues].

You have repeatedly supported the president -- Mr. Ahmadinejad -- whereas I believe he is the main cause of crisis in Iran and in the international arena.... The inferior and cruel culture that presides over the executive branch of the IRI is not so hidden that it needs to be explained. The head of the government has done nothing in the domestic arena other than to destroy the material and intellectual achievements of the Islamic Revolution and deviate from the ideals of the Constitution, and he has acted as a center of crisis in the region as well.

Have you ever thought about what the achievements of Ahmadinejad's management have been for nearly six years, except for publicly questioning the nation's achievements before your leadership [which began in 1989], and the continuing widespread human rights abuses, violating of the ideals and principles of the Constitution, removing competent officials and government administrators, destroying the national economic infrastructure, and building commerce based on importing goods [rather than manufacturing]? Have you ever thought about the purpose of the imprisonment of such noble people as [reformist economist] Mr. [Mohsen] Safaei Farahani, [journalist and documentary filmmaker] Mohammad Nourizad, [former deputy interior minister and outspoken reformist] Mostafa Tajzadeh, [LMI leader] Dr. Ebrahim Yazdi, and many other servants of the Iranian nation? This has caused nothing other than harm to the lives of people who have provided the greatest service to the Revolution and the establishment and consolidation of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and are either old or under physical stress and exposed to diseases common in the prison environment. Mr. Safaei Farahani was bed-ridden for months in Evin Prison's health care center, and Dr. Ebrahim Yazdi, who at one time, as the representative of the Iranian Association of the Defense of Freedom and Human Rights [founded by Bazargan and his comrades in 1977], never hesitated to serve the victims of human rights violations in Iran, including you, and, despite the risk and threats, always acted according to his national and religious duties, was spending his old age under house arrest for five months in a "safe house" of the Ministry of Intelligence. Is solitary confinement of a person, such as Dr. Yazdi, in a safe house...given his track record, distinguished service, and effective and sacrificial presence in the provisional government [of Bazargan] and the Revolutionary Council, on the thirty-second anniversary of the popular Revolution of 1979, not violating the Revolution and its historical aspirations? Do you not see it as your duty to take effective action to ameliorate such damages, which may be irreversible?

The removal of the original leaders of the Revolution and the use of unreal and insulting phrases such as "the leaders of sedition" [as Khamenei has referred to Mousavi and Khatami] to describe people who spent the best years of their youth for the establishment and consolidation of the political system cannot be justified as being necessary to strengthen the ideals of the Revolution. Do you not feel that you have a duty, as the only member of the [Revolutionary] Council who has apparently escaped this deviationist group [of Ahmadinejad's] and who still has significant power, to reform and make changes in the affairs of the state?

Shortly after the presidential victory of Mr. Ahmadnejad in 2005, the Liberation Movement of Iran, in its statement number 1932, expressly declared its concerns and warned that his election would only cause the isolation of the Leader...and impose heavy costs on the nation.... Following is an excerpt from the statement:

Iran's recent elections have widened the clear and large fissures that have gradually emerged among the high officials of the Islamic Republic. It seems particularly clear that the current policy intends to separate and isolate the Leader. The differences between the key figures of the government over these elections are the result of the process of "everyone with me [everyone must support Khamenei]," and their inevitable result will be the isolation [of the Leader]. The Liberation Movement of Iran, regardless of whether or not it believes in Velaayat-e Faghih [the doctrine of guardianship of the Islamic jurist, embodied by the Supreme Leader], views this trend as unhealthy and detrimental to national security and the future of the Islamic Republic. The Liberation Movement of Iran does not view such arrangements [of power] as contributing to the national interests and security, particularly in the ongoing presence of external threats.

The thinking and ideas of the Liberation Movement of Iran about the theory of Absolute Supreme Leadership -- Velaayat-e Faghih -- have been clear to everyone; however, as this institution has been part of the Constitution for thirty-two years, the LMI has repeatedly stated that the first step toward rule of law is respecting the Constitution and so, despite fundamental disagreements, it has expressed its commitment to all the principles of the Constitution. But, through creating crisis and imposing heavy costs on the nation, the thinking that falsely claims that it has "melted" in the Velaayat-e Faghih has seriously hurt the entire political system, and even the Velaayat-e Faghih itself. The track record of this thinking clearly suggests one cannot imagine any goal for this group other than the violation of the Constitution, even eliminating this position [of Supreme Leader],and establishing a military-ideological government according to a superstitious and self-serving reading of Islam. Complete implementation of the Constitution is a fundamental demand, and ignoring it will only widen the crisis and increase the material and moral damage to Iran.

[Haj Seyyed Javadi then criticizes the continuing existence of the revolutionary courts three decades after the Revolution and calls for their elimination. He also urges an end to the security forces' interference in the judiciary and to the sentencing of political and social activists to long terms in prison. He condemns the elimination of subsidies for basic food items and energy without proper planning and in the absence of the Organization of Planning and Budget, which Ahmadinjad abolished, the lack of independent and free press, the Ahmadinejad administration's repeated violations of the law, and rampant corruption. He asks Khamenei, "Have you ever thought about the result of such a track record during your long rule?" The letter continues:]

These days narcissism, cultish culture, and the authoritarian character of Mr. Ahmadinejad have become so severe that he does not even pay attention to the dignity and expediency of the nation when appointing or removing the ministers, the best examples of which are his treatment of the foreign minister [Manouchehr Mottaki, who was fired while he was on an official trip in Senegal] and that of the minister of intelligence [Heydar Moslehi]. The fundamental question is, based on whose support does the head of government act so brazenly, even resisting the orders of the Leader who at one point was his [most important] supporter? Indeed, from where do Mr. Ahmadinejad and his supporters receive their orders?

The results of the government's actions and rhetoric, which are spreading superstition and presenting an image of Islam that contradicts reason and is in conflict with the rights of nations, are clear in the domestic arena -- growing public discontent and rejection of the republican system, increasing anti-Islam trends among the youth, and rejection of the Islamic aspects of the system. And, as reported in the international arena, the overwhelming response of the [revolutionary] political leaders of Egypt and Tunisia has been insistence on the fact that they do not want to establish anything similar to the Islamic Republic of Iran. Unfortunately, one must acknowledge that the improper functioning of the Iranian government in recent years has not only not strengthened the "wave of Islamic awakening" that used to inspire liberation movements in the Middle East, it has rather amplified a wave of "fearing the Islamic Republic" in the region, even among Islamic groups. Let me remind you that, not long ago, a senior member of Hamas explicitly said that the model for his government is Turkey and not Iran.

[Haj Seyyed Javadi then accuses Ahmadinejad and his supporters of wanting to begin a new terrorist group:]

Considering the actions and rhetoric of Mr. Ahmadinejad and his relatives and supporters in the domestic and international arenas, the amount of the national wealth and resources that have resulted from exporting oil, and the arbitrary imports of goods in recent years in the absence of supervision and management institutions, such as the Organization of Budget and Planning, that have filled his pockets, one concludes that he has goals other than setting up a peaceful nuclear energy [system] and generating electricity for the people; rather [the goal is] the establishment of an international terrorist organization like al-Qaeda, but of a Shia type. If one does not move quickly to head off this brakeless train, the fear is that, perhaps in the not too distant future, the people of the world will witness continuous threats and disasters on par with the world wars.

[Haj Seyyed Javadi further warns Khamenei about Ahmadinejad, his chief of staff and senior adviser Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, and their supporters. The letter ends with the following declaration:]

During the struggle [against the Shah], when I defended you as your attorney, and over the past 30 years that you have been in power, and even in the era that I could have had a personal interest in possessing wealth and power, you have acknowledged time and again that I have never asked for anything for my own interests and personal desires. But now I hold you religiously and legally responsible for protecting the rights and lives of my family, and my larger family of the Liberation Movement of Iran and other imprisoned freedom-seeking people. It is only appropriate that, as the ruler and the Leader, you take action and order the release of all the political prisoners, particularly Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, and declare national reconciliation to lay the foundation for the return of order and tranquility. Under such a policy, the Majles and the judiciary will have the possibility of investigating the political and moral competence of the head of government [Ahmadinejad]. I hope that you will not reject this, and will not be indifferent to the last request of a person to whom Mr. Seyyed Ali Khamenei, rather than the Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, might have been indebted at some point.

Copyright © 2012 Tehran Bureau

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