25 May 2011

THE (GREEN) REVOLUTION BETRAYED: What happens to a dream deferred?




“We weren’t really preoccupied with Mir Hossein Mousavi and the others. We were completely against the ruling government. Our hearts were 100% with the people of Iran.” – close friend of Behnoud Ramezani, killed by Basijis on Chahar Shanbe Suri 2011

"They [Mousavi, Karroubi, Khatami] neither understand nor accept the revolutionary nature of the movement itself, and have even recently begun talking about a return to the "golden years of Khomeini", as if Iranians do not know that these were tantamount to despotism, war, mass murder and many broken promises." – Mahmoud Delkhasteh, from his Huffington Post article, “Iran’s Green Movement Moves to Bypass its Leaders”

I return once again to the analogy comparing the architects of the Islamic Republic who stole the 57 Revolution from the Iranian people to the Bolsheviks who stole the Russian Revolution from the Russian people, I first made this comparison in my essay “What Is To Be Done?” (http://notesfromtheninthcircle.blogspot.com/2011/07/what-is-to-be-done.html), and at the time I did not realize just how fully the comparison was true.

The title, by the way, is borrowed from a critique written by Leon Trotsky aimed at the Soviet Union under Josef Stalin. The subtitle is from a poem by Langston Hughes.

In that essay, I compared Khomeini to Lenin with these words: “Both [revolutions] were led by bitter, vindictive, unscrupulous long-term exiles who lied about their intentions, gave lip service to the goals of the true left, and pursued absolute power in the name of ideology and the establishment of a totalitarian state.” Carrying that analogy to the present day, Khamenei fills the role of Stalin, Hashemi Rafsanjani that of Trotsky, Khatami that of Bukharin, and Karroubi & Mousavi those of Kamenev & Zinoviev.

There is little qualitative disagreement between the Principlists who have been in power since 2005 and the Reformists who previously held the reins from 1997 to that date, and none on substance. They vary only quantitatively, in the amount of repression that should be inflicted on the population, the Principlists advocating extreme totalitarian oppression while the Reformists favor a mere moderately repressive authoritarian order.

Hashemi Rafsanjani does not really belong to either. Though he remains in the Principlists’ Combatant Clerics Association, many from his inner circle and presidential cabinet established the Servants of Construction, which nominally allies with the Reformists’ Association of Combatant Clerics. He has alternately supported and stabbed in the back nearly every player on Iran’s political scene.

Once upon a time, the major players in both camps belonged to a single unified faction that controlled nearly every significant aspect of life in the Islamic Republic, one which resembled very much Lenin’s Bolshevik Party.  As Mansoor Hekmat said in a 2000 interview with Radio International, the two camps “had no differences on the issue of maintaining the Islamic regime by mass killing and murder” during the early years of the IRI.

Also like their Bolshevik predecessors, the Followers of the Line of the Imam (now known as “Reformists”) and the Principlists began scheming and plotting against each other about two years before the old man’s death.

The original cabal formally called itself the Council for the Islamic Revolution, which was founded by Khomeini in early January 1979 to do everything he was still promising publicly he wasn’t going to do, and all of its members were in on that dirty little secret.

Real Change or Cosmetic Reform?

Those in Iran, the diaspora, and the West hoping for any sort of real change from Messrs. Mousavi, Karroubi, and Khatami are like the paramour of a married lover waiting for his or her object of romantic devotion to leave their spouse. Reformism in Iran is like coitus interruptus: it never finishes what it starts and leaves everyone unsatisfied. And the idea of merely "reforming" the Islamic Republic is like using lubricant for an anal rape.

The so-called “reformists”—including Mousavi, Karroubi, and Khatami—have stolen the Green Revolution the same way they and the rest of the “Followers of the Line of the Imam” stole the '57 Revolution in the beginning. They and their allies in Iran and the diaspora have reduced it to a mere civil or human rights movement, working within the structures of the very Islamic Republic which the real members of the revolutionary movement would like to see tossed aside like the trash that it is into the dustbin of history.

Most nakedly with their latest statements surrounding the events of February 2011, the three and their three parties (Green Path of Hope, National Trust, Islamic Iran Participation Front) have made it abundantly clear that they consider the citizens who make up the real movement little more than an auxillary support organization. The Green Path of Hope said marching was to support the political stance of Mousavi and Karroubi. Khatami’s Islamic Participation Front said the purpose of reform is to save the Islamic Republic; note, not to save Iran but to save the Islamic Republic.

The Green Path of Hope, by the way, was established by Mousavi in August 2009 as a “grassroots” political organization, one whose goals, activities, and slogans are determined by a narrow circle of like-minded persons that trickle down to the masses. Lenin called this “democratic centralism”.

They clearly see citizens in the movement as being at their beck and call for the political chess games they play against their opponents within the regime, a regime of which they are and have always been a part and are much more concerned about preserving than they are obtaining freedom for the Iranian people.

It has been said, somewhat accurately and somewhat not so accurately, that the Green Movement started in March 2009 when Mohammad Khatami withdrew his candidacy for president in favor of outwardly seeming newcomer Mir Hossein Mousavi. In the context of the June 2009 elections, Mousavi was perhaps the best choice of a bad lot, but Iran needs, and its people deserve, more than the lesser of evils. He cannot, however, be taken out of the context in which he exists, one which he shares with men like Rafsanjani, Khatami, Khamenei, and Karroubi.

Along with Rafsanjani and Khamenei, Mousavi was a top Khomeini lieutenant, one of four chief architects of the Islamic Republic (the other was Mousavi Ardebili, now out of public life and government), and part of the innermost circle planning its imposition upon the unsuspecting non-Islamist members of the Iranian Revolution.

Mousavi’s two current closest ideological allies, Karroubi and Khatami, have been part of the Khomeinist camp since it first began resisting such heinous policies as land reform and the abolition of feudalism, profit-sharing, literacy programs, sufferage for women, and allowing non-Muslims to hold office. Mousavi, and his wife Zahra Rahnavard, were up until the last couple of years before the 57 Revolution originally followers of Ali Shariati, though never members of his Freedom Movement.

Speaking of Ali Shariati, for Westerners the best way to put Shariati in a context we can understand is to call his line of thought an Islamic version of Liberation Theology. He was the leading intellectual among anti-Shah forces prior to 1357/1979, spending his last eighteen months in Iran in solitary confinement, only to die within three months after being exiled. Those who suspect foul play are divided between monarchists being behind his death or Khomeini theocrats.

So what Mousavi and Rahnavard did was almost the equivalent of jumping from the camp of Gustavo Gutierrez or Oscar Romero to Christian Dominionism or the Free Latter Day Saints, except that those two groups are way too modern and liberal by comparison.

Always a regime insider, Mousavi has served in no public positions since the end of his time as Prime Minister in 1989, which ended only because the position did. Out of the public eye, however, Mousavi continued to serve the regime as senior advisor to both Rafsanjani and Khatami during their presidencies as well as a member of the Supreme Council for Cultural Revolution and the Expediency Council, the latter two of which he continues to hold to this day.

In his article “Iran’s Potato Revolution”, Mehrzad Boroujerdi wrote that Mousavi would “tweak rather than overhaul” the state apparatus and said “think Leonid Brezhnev not Mikhail Gorbachev”. One blogger wrote that Mousavi’s idea of Paradise Lost was the Islamic Republic as it was under Khomeini.

In her recent essay on The Huffington Post, “Reassessing the Green Movement”, Madison Schramm (a political analyst for the Council on Foreign Relations) remarked, “Even if the protesters did have the numbers, the leadership of the movement is not in the market for a revolution. The leaders, former speaker of parliament Karroubi, former president Khatami, and former prime minister Mousavi, have worked within the bureaucracy since the country's revolution in 1979. These men were not only architects of the Islamic Republic, but benefitted from and sustained the system.” A quick review of the positions held by the three “leaders” of the Green Movement bears that out.

Mir Hossein Mousavi: presidential candidate, 2009; chairman of the Green Path of Hope party since 2009; member of the Supreme Council of Cultural Revolution since 1996; member of the Expediency Discernment Council since 1989; Prime Minister (1981-1989); Minister of Foreign Affairs (1981); president of the Council of Cultural Revolution (1981); political secretary (1979-1981), co-founder (along with Ayatollah Beheshti), and member of the Central Committee of the Islamic Republican Party (1979-1987); editor-in-chief of the Islamic Republic (1979-1981); member of the Council of Islamic Revolution (1979-1981); member of the Constitutional Review Panel (1989); president of the Iranian Academy of Arts (2000-2009); president of the Mostazafen Foundation of Islamic Revolution (1981-1989); president of the Economy Council (1982-1989); senior adviser to President Rafsanjani (1989-1997); senior adviser to President Khatami (1997-2005)

Mehdi Karroubi: two-time presidential candidate, 2005 & 2009; Secretary-General of the National Trust party since 2005; Speaker of the Majlis (1989-1992 & 2000-2004); Deputy Speaker of the Majlis (1985-1989); Parliamentarian (1980-2005); member of the Constitutional Review Panel (1989); member of the Expediency Council (1989-1992 & 2000-2004); adviser to the Supreme Leader ( - 2005); Secretary-General of the Association of Combatant Clerics (1988-2005); member of the Combatant Clerics Association (1977-1988); Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance; chair of the Imam Khomeini Relief Committee; chair of the Martyrs’ Foundation (1979-1992); chair of the Housing Foundation; chair of the Pilgrimage Foundation (1985-1990); served with the Revolutionary Komitehs

In the presidential election of 2005, Karroubi, who strongly desired to run, saw the Association of Combatant Clerics of which he was then Secretary-General endorse independent candidate Mostafa Moin, then his own political party, the Islamic Iran Participation Front, follow that same path. After the election, he resigned from the ACC, from the IIPF, and from his position as adviser to Khamenei, and it was a few months later that he founded the National Trust party.

Mohammad Khatami: current chairman of the Association of Combatant Clerics; current chairman of the Central Council of the Islamic Iran Participation Front; President (1997-2005); Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance (1992); Parliamentarian (1980-1982); member of the Supreme Council of Cultural Revolution; Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces; member and co-founder of the Combatant Clerics Association (1977-1989); supervisor of the Kayhan Institute; former head of the National Library of Iran

Mousavi and the crimes of the regime

In the West, nearly all the reports in the mainstream media were uniform in their praise of both reformist candidates, especially of the lead candidate, Mir Hossein Mousavi, and spoke in glowing terms of the support he received when appearing at rallies. Blogs from inside Iran and knowledgable expat Iranians gave a different picture. Several noted that neither of the B-Team’s candidates would alter the structure of the state so many Iranians wanted to eradicate.

Contrary to the rosy picture of Mousavi’s campaign stops painted in much of the Western press, he was heckled and jeered at many of his appearances, particularly at universities, and not just by supporters of his electoral rivals. Many of the chants and jeers centered on the nature of his role during the massacres of the Bloody Summer of 1988, in which prisoners from the Mujahedin e-Khalq, the various Fedayeen groups, the Tudeh party, and other leftist groups were summarily executed on orders from Ayatollah Khomeini himself.

This order was given at a meeting whose attendees included Mohammad Khatami, Ali Khamenei, Ali Akbar Hasemi Rafsanjani, Ahmad Khomeini, Abdolkarim Moussavi Ardebili, and Mohammad Mousavi Khoeiniha.

Figures for the massacre vary from 4537 (according to Amnesty International) to as many as 33,700 (according to Reza Malek, former Deputy Minister of Intelligence and Security).
On 4 May 2009 at the University of Babolsar, Mousavi met chants of “Mir Hossein, give us an answer about 1988!”, “Students die, but will never surrender!”, “Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: The source of discrimination and corruption!”, and “Detained students must be released!”.
On 18 May at his rally at Zanjan University, students chanted “Where were you in 1988 and how many did you kill?”, with some students holding up placards reading, “Khavaran’s soil is still red.”

The next day, 19 May, students at Qazvin University greeted Mousavi with chants of “88, 88!”, and held up placards reading, “Mir Hossein, '88!”, “Free university students!”, and "Evin now accepts university students!”.

Two days later, 21 May, at a public rally in Tehran, there was at least one sign that said, “We Want Another Revolution!”.

To be fair, I do not believe Mousavi knew about the prison massacres either beforehand and during their perpetration. That is the opinion of Grand Ayatollah Montazeri as stated in the last months of his life, as well as the Mission for the Establishment of Human Rights in Iran.

By December 1988, Mousavi certainly knew at least an outline of the massacres, as did most of the rest of the world. When asked about the events by a reporter during an interview for an Austrian television station, he responded, “They had plans to perpetrate killings and massacres. We had to crush the conspiracy ... in that respect we have no mercy.”

Khatami, one of those present at the original planning session for the massacres, reportedly tried to cover it up even during his time as president. Karroubi joined two others in condemning Grand Ayatollah Montazeri’s outspoken public attempts to have the atrocity halted in a public letter that said in part, “Some unidentified people and even counter-revolutionaries make baseless statements against the political establishment, its organs, and officials, and are accepted by him [i.e., Grand Ayatollah Montazeri], [to the extent that] he becomes their spokesman, and repeats the same in his [public] speeches and messages...”.

Montazeri, who at the time was Khomeini’s designated successor, was and remains the only major figure of the regime to speak out forcefully condemning the atrocity. For his efforts, he was removed as Khomeini’s successor and placed under house arrest, and there was an attempt to remove his title of Marja e-taqlid.

In contrast, as one of the handful of men on the Council of Islamic Revolution founded a month before Bakhtiar’s government fell and serving as the only national governmental body between the dissolution of the Provisional Revolutionary Government and the election of the first Majlis, there can be almost no doubt that Mousavi not only knew of but actively helped carry out the earlier Reign of Terror, a bloody purge of leftists that began just after Banisadr’s ouster in June 1981 and didn’t peter out until December 1982.

An average of 50 a day, and sometimes up to 100 a day, were summarily executed during that bloodbath, totaling 2946 according to official government documents, the actual number being close to 20,000.

A student of Azar Nafisi who had been arrested while handing out leaflets for one of the proscribed organizations described her own ordeal during this period, which Nafisi relates on page 212 of her excellent book Reading Lolita in Tehran:

...most of the stories you hear about the jails are true. The worst was when they called people's names in the middle of the night. We knew they had been picked for execution. They would say good-bye, and soon after that, we would hear the sound of bullets. We would know the number of people killed on any given night by counting the single bullets that inevitably came after the initial barrage. There was one girl there—her only sin was her amazing beauty. They brought her in on some trumped up charge. They kept her for over a month and repeatedly raped her. They passed her from one guard to another. The story got around the jail very fast, because the girl wasn't even political; she wasn't with the political prisoners. They married the virgins off to the guards, who would later execute them. The philosophy behind this act was that if they were killed as virgins, they would go to heaven. You talk of betrayals. Mostly they forced those who ‘converted’ to Islam to empty the last round in the heads of their comrades as tokens of their new loyalty to the regime. If I were not privileged, she said with rancor, if I were not 'blessed' with a father who shared their faith, God knows where I would be now--in hell with all the other molested virgins or with those who put a gun to someone's head to prove their loyalty to Islam.”

The rape of virgins to be executed was-and still is-carried out according to a fatwa from Ayatollah Khomeini himself. After the executions, the families of the victims receive a box of chocolates and/or flowers along with a marriage certificate.

By the way, according to some reports Mahmoud Ahmadi Nejad’s first job with the Islamic Republic was delivering the above-mentioned coups de grace to the backs of the heads of the executed during this time.

We said, they said

A vivid sign of the disconnect between the so-called leaders of the Green Movement and those whom they claim to lead can be seen in the difference between the slogans and chants coming from the people in the streets and statements of the “leaders”. Let’s start with the voices from the streets.

Even before the election, at a large rally in Tehran on or around 21 May 2009, several people held up a large banner that read, “We Want Another Revolution!”.

After the stolen election, the most famous of slogans, shouted in the streets and carried on signs, was “Where Is My Vote?”, a slogan which became even more famous than the catch-phrase from season 1 of the NBC series “Heroes”, “Save the cheerleader, save the world.”

Another was “Ya Hossein, Mir Hossein!”, a chant most prominent during the demonstrations and riots on Ashura (27 December) 2009. I doubt all of those chanting that slogan are necessarily expressing wholehearted support for Mr. Mousavi as much as they are thumbing their noses at the “ruling establishment”.

Partly in an attempt to signify their intent to take back the Revolution stolen from them in 1357/1979, citizens in marches and at night from their rooftops, especially in Tehran but also around the country, frequently shout, “Allahu Akbar!”. With too much wishful thinking, Mousavi says this indicates allegiance to the Islamic Republic. Right time, wrong idea. As I said before, they want back the revolution which he helped steal from them. Like the former case, few if any of those chanting this slogan are expressing support for the regime as much as resistance to it. Many I know in Iran who use this chant are devout atheists.

After several in the movement were gunned down, beaten to death, and tortured, raped, and killed in prisons and secret jails, the slogans became more directly confrontational. In the meantime, the principal “leaders” of the movement were nowhere to be found.

Some of the slogans that began to be used at this time included:

“Marg bar Diktador!” (“Death to the Dictator!”, referring to Supreme Leader Khamenei)

“Marg bar Khamenei!” (a bit more direct)

“Marg bar Velayet e faqih!” (“Death to the rule of the Jurist!”, basically calling for an end to the position and authority of the Supreme Leader)

“Marg bar basiji” (“Death to the Basiji”, the vanguard of security forces attacking demonstrators and protestors and activists)

“Esteghlal! Azadi! Jomhuri-ye Irani!” (“Independence! Freedom! Iranian Republic!”—first used on the 40th death after the deaths of Neda, Sohrab, and so many others on Black Saturday—turning on its head the Revolution-era slogan “Esteghlal! Azadi! Jomhuri-ye Eslami!”, calling for an Iranian as opposed to Islamic Republic)

“Death to the Taliban — in Kabul and Tehran!” (A direct reference to the mullahs who rule the Islamic Republic and their allies and supporters.)

Quds Day, an official government demonstration of support for the Palestinian people in Gaza and the West Bank, was the first time since the earliest days of the Green Revolution that the “leaders” took part in demonstrations with their supposed followers.

Along with the above slogans, movement activists chanted against government supporters shouting how they would give their lives for Gaza and Lebanon: “Not for Gaza, not for Lebanon, I give my life for Iran!”.

This new chant brought out public condemnations from all three members of the triumvirate identified by Western media as “leaders” of the movement.

In response, marchers took up a new chant aimed at the reformist self-proclaimed “leaders” on 4 November, a day in the Islamic Republic commemorating the takeover of the US embassy in Tehran: “Change Not Reform!”.

On Students Day, 7 December, quite a few protestors from the movement carried Iranian flags without the IRI symbol in the middle, actually flags of the Provisional Revolutionary Government since they lacked the script on the green and red.

There were also reports that in addition to pictures of Khamenei protestors had burned photos of Khomeini, which may have been an incident fabricated by the regime.

In response, Mousavi gave the following statement in an interview with Islamic Republic Daily:

“Those who respect me would never allow the slightest insult to Imam Khomeini and they always respect him” (11 December 2009). And yet he claims not to be trying to dominate the movement and praises slogans that “come from the hearts of the people in the streets.”

Some of the other slogans “coming from the hearts of the people in the streets” include:

“Khamenei is a murderer, his leadership is invalid!”

“We are an Aryan race, religion and politics don’t mix!”

“Mubarak, Ben Ali, now it’s your turn, Seyyed Ali!” (after the uprisings in Egypt & Tunisia)

“Azadi! Azadi! Faryade had Irani!” (“Freedom! Freedom! this is the cry of every Iranian!”)

In addition, a number of other slogans get passed amongst activists in the streets, coffee bars, malls, trains, etc., as sayings rather than as chants.

“I am an Iranian before I am a Muslim, but more importantly I am a human before I am an Iranian.” They use this to show first that they hold Islam second to Iran and second that they consider themselves part of the whole human race.

“Every Iranian is a leader.” First used by Mousavi when he was pretending not to hijack the movement for freedom and secular democracy, both of which are anathema to him and his reformist allies. Activists in the streets have turned this back on him to say they do not need “leaders” because every Iranian can speak for themselves.

“Zende baad Azadi!”. Reportedly the cry of Kurdish school teacher Farzad Karmangar just before he was hung, some activists use this too amongst themselves.

Now for the statements of the “leaders”:

In September 1998, Mohammad Khatami, then President of the Islamic Republic, said, “I assure you that we will defend the integrity and honor of the sacred system of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the best of our ability.” He proved this during his presidency by helping run the actual reform movement into the ground.

In the last year of his presidency, after elections in which nearly all reformist candidates had been disqualified by the Guardian Council, Khatami gave a speech at Tehran University on 6 December 2004, where he was jeered by most of the students. Some of his remarks on the occasion included:

"I really believe in this system and the revolution and that this system can be developed from within."

"The way toward democracy is through and within the Islamic Republic.”

"If I retreated, I retreated against the system I believed in. I considered it necessary to save the ruling establishment."

The last statement graphically demonstrates that given the choice between the welfare of the citizens of Iran and the continuation of the monstrosity which he helped build, Khatami will choose, and did choose, the former. In other words, he deliberately shit-canned his own movement and betrayed those who followed it.

To Khatami’s claim that day that Iranians had the most freedom of speech of any Third World country, one student replied, “We have freedom of expression. We just don’t have freedom after expression,” referring to the number of students imprisoned during his term of office.

In an interview with Financial Times during the campaign of 2009, when asked if there were any fundamental differences on policy between himself and Supreme Leader Khamenei, Mr. Mousavi simply replied, “No”. Several persons have pointed out that he could not have answered otherwise; however, I and a lot of others suspect that it is simply true.

In one of his major post-election statements, on 20 June 2009, the same day on which Neda Agha Soltan, Sohrab Arabi, and so many others were gunned down mercilessly, Mousavi had this to say:

“Thirty years ago, in this country a revolution became victorious in the name of Islam, a revolution for freedom, a revolution for reviving the dignity of men, a revolution for truth and justice. In those times, especially when our enlightened Imam was alive, large amount of lives and matters were invested to legitimize this foundation and many valuable achievements were attained. An unprecedented enlightenment captured our society, and our people reached a new life where they endured the hardest of hardships with a sweet taste. What this people gained was dignity and freedom and a gift of the life of the pure ones. I am certain that those who have seen those days will not be satisfied with anything less. Had we as a people lost certain talents that we were unable to experience that early spirituality? I had come to say that that was not the case. It is not late yet, we are not far from that enlightened space yet.”

The events of the Day of Ashura shook both the dominant clique and the reformist camp, of which Mousavi, Karroubi, and Khatami remain a loyal part. On that day, the regime under which Iran had been suffering more than 30 years nearly fell.

If you are wary of betrayal, relax: you have already been betrayed.

In his Statement 17 on 1 January 2010, Mousavi had this to say, among other things:

“We disapprove of those who don’t respect their country’s national and religious beliefs and customs. The extremist slogans chanted and acts carried out by some protesters on Ashura are unacceptable.”

Khatami’s statement in the aftermath on 12 January included several direct and indirect condemnations of the grassroots of the movement:

“Our position has been and [always] will be clear: Islam, revolution and the Islamic Republic.”

“Even if several persons voice law-breaking [i.e. ‘adventurous’ or ‘extremist’] slogans it should be condemned.”

"Our slogan has been and will be: 'Independence, Freedom, Islamic Republic.' And any other slogan is not approved by the majority of our people. Any other slogan is a diversion from the path of the revolution.”

Note the above is direct opposition to the slogan from the streets: “Independence, Freedom, IRANIAN Republic”.

Karroubi’s statement came later in the month, 27 January, with this:

"I accept velayat-e faghih. I accept the Islamic republic and I accept the constitution. I don’t agree with slogans that call for changing power structures."

After action discussion following the events of 22 Bahman (11 February) focused on why the movement’s showing turned out so disastrously even while their numbers were even larger than on Ashura and protests more widely distributed across the country. Part of the confusion came from conflicting signals from the various reformist groups and outlets (Green Path of Hope, Kalemeh, National Trust, IIPF, Saham, Jaras, MIRO, etc.), differing instructions about where to gather and how to proceed, and calls from all three “leaders” to leave off or tone down symbols identifying protest participants as members of the movement.

There were also warnings from several reformist politicians about the potential risks of injury and death from demonstrating openly as Green Movement supporters on that day, to which one student responded, “Scare us with silence, but not with death”.

In his interview with Kaleme 2 February 2010 on the upcoming celebrations for Revolution Day, Mousavi made the following statements, among others:

“Extremist slogans which lean toward moving past the Constitution harm the movement more than the extremism of the authoritarians.”

“My advice to followers of the Green Movement is to reduce their identifying features, whether they are used to help them stand out a little or a lot.”

In the same interview, after strongly condemning the slogans used by the people in the streets, he went on to likewise condemn those who tried to impose slogans on the movement. Which is amusing, or infuriating, considering that his own Green Path of Hope party, his news organization Kaleme, and his allied news organization Jaras were at the time and continue to be the worst offenders in this.

He went on to say that the best slogans were those that come from the hearts of the people; please look to his statement above and note the irony of this statement, which was magnified by his recommendation immediately following that marchers use the slogan, “Independence, Freedom, Islamic Republic”.

Except for after-action comments on 22 Bahman, the three “leaders” were next heard from when they urged their “supporters” to stay home and indoors on the upcoming Chahar Shanbe Suri, and, failing that, not to use the occasion for dissent.

Speaking of those after-action comments, that of Karroubi on 22 February included this jewel: “We all know that your participation in the 22 Bahman rally was…a demonstration of your love of Iran, the Islamic Revolution, and Imam Khomeini.” Meanwhile, in an interview with his outlet Kalemeh on 27 February, Mousavi referred to the Green Movement as a reformist party.

Then came the fiasco surrounding the anniversary of the 2009 election. Mousavi and Karroubi issued a joint statement announcing they were requesting (begging) for permission to march in commemoration of the occasion, even though, “constitutionally there is no need to request permission for demonstrations” (Delkhasteh).

The announcement was strongly worded in a way to clearly imply that even if such were not received that the demonstrations would go ahead. Defenders of their request vis-à-vis detractors who questioned the need to ask for something they knew they were not going to get suggested that this was a way for them to use official channels to get the word out.

Just 48 hours before the anniversary Mousavi and Karroubi announced that the anticipated upcoming demonstrations were cancelled due to lack of permission from the ruling establishment and because something bad might happen.

Had things been left to the real grassroots, the anniversary of 12 June would have gone much differently. For one thing, no one would have crawled on their knees to beg from a despotic ruling establishment that which it would never give. Gandhi never “asked permission” to protest. Nor did Mandela. Nor did King. Nor have the Tunisians, Egyptians, Libyans, Bahrainis, Syrians, Yemenis, etc.

For another, there would have actually BEEN demonstrations, and perhaps a revival of a movement gone moribund due to the confusion, indecision, divided loyalties, and incompetence of its “leaders”. Instead, what happened was almost like a planned psyops campaign to dishearten and weaken a significant threat to the continued existence of a regime Mousavi and Karroubi helped build and to which they are still loyal.

If you think the last far-fetched, review some of the statements of the three “leaders”, and go back to Khatami’s statement, “I retreated against the system I believed in. I considered it necessary to save the ruling establishment." The former president said it, but the statements of all three men clearly show they share the same political stance.

Current events

As I stated previously here and in an earlier essay, any hopes that Mousavi and Karroubi, and Khatami with them, would finally take the first baby steps toward calling for actual change were shattered in the events surrounding 25 Bahman (14 February) this year.

First, in the lead up to that day, Khatami’s reformist Islamic Iran Participation Front pleaded that reform was the only way to “save the Islamic Republic”.

The very reason he trashed his own reform program.

Second, Mousavi’s statement for that day included the following: “The Green Movement’s main goal has always been to revive the ideals and aspirations of Imam Khomeini and the Islamic Revolution.”

Well, Mr. Mousavi, to begin with I thought you didn’t speak for the movement? But since your statement is diametrically opposed to every slogan coming “from the hearts of the people”, I have to agree you do not, in fact, speak for them at all.

Third, Karroubi’s statement for 25 Bahman included this: “I remain faithful to the promise and covenant I made with the people and their demands, to the ideals of Imam Khomeini and the Islamic Revolution of 1979.”

Excuse me, Mr. Karroubi, you cannot remain faithful to both the demands of the people and to the ideals of Khomeini and the Islamic “Revolution” of 1979. This statement is equally as vacuous as Mousavi's description during the campaign of his political stance as "reformist principlist".

Fourth, in its call for demonstrations on 20 February to memorialize the two victims of government fatal violence on 25 Bahman, Mohammad Mokhtari and Saneh Jahel, the Coordinating Council of the Green Path of Hope added that a “glorious turnout” would show “support for the political stances of Mousavi and Karroubi”, as if that were the primary motive for those risking their safety and lives in the streets.

Fifth, Mousavi’s propaganda outlet, Kalemeh, in its own call on that day took care to note for potential participants that the day selected was also the birthdays of both the Prophet Mohammad and the 6th Imam, Jafar Sadegh, something about which none of those coming to protest the crimes and continuing existence of the Islamic Republic much cared.

Now let’s hear from the people who came out into the streets on 25 Bahman.

In a few places there were people chanting, at least briefly, “Ya Hossein! Mir Hossein!” and “Zende baad Karroubi! Payande baad Mousavi!” (Long Live Karroubi! Long endure Mousavi!), but these were rare and usually brief.

In several places, demonstrators used the revolutionary-era chant, “Allahu Akbar!”.

A new spin on one of the former chants coming “from the hearts of the people on the streets” was this, one of the more popular of the day: “Na Ghaza, na Lobnan; Tunis o Misr o Iran!” (Not Gaza, not Lebanon; Tunisia and Egypt and Iran!).

The implications of this one should be apparent.

Another popular one was: “Mubarak, Ben Ali, Nobateh Seyyed Ali!” (Mubarak, Ben Ali, Now [it’s your turn] Seyed Ali!’.

Other slogans, most heard in several places and much more revolutionary than any of which the ‘green leaders’ would have approved, include:

“Dictator farar kon! Mubarak ro negah kon!” (Dictator, run! Look at Mubarak!)

'Nezami joda sho! Ba mellat hamseda sho!' (Military, separate! Join your voice with the nation's!)

“Marg bar Diktador!”

“Azadi! Azadi! Azadi!”, interspersed with drum beats.

“Political prisoners must be freed!”

“Iranians with dignity, Support! Support!”

“Tehran or Cairo, the dictators got to go!”

“Marg bar to!” (Death to you!), referring to the leaders of the regime.

“Pitiful dictator, the Green Movement is Alive!”

“I will kill, I will kill, he who killed my brother!”

“Death to the entire Supreme Leader Regime!”

“Death to despots, whether in Cairo or Tehran!”

“What happened to the oil money? It went to the Basijis!”

“Not Gaza; Not Lebanon; my life for Iran!” (first used on Quds Day and condemned by all three ‘green leaders’ as “extremist”)

“Marg bar Khamenei!”

"Khamenei haya kon! Mubarak ro negah kon!" (Khamenei, have some shame! Look at Mubarak!)

“Referendum! Referendum!”, calling for a constitutional referendum to abolish the Islamic Republic and establish secular democracy in an Iranian Republic.

They also sang the nationalist songs “Ey Iran” and “Yare Dabestani”.

Also on this day, there was widespread use once again of the slogan, “Independence! Freedom! Iranian Republic!”, in some places preceded with “We don’t want an Islamic regime!”, to leave no doubt what the protestors meant.

This particular slogan made its first appearance on 30 July 2009, the 40th day after the deaths of Neda Agha Soltan, Sohrab Arabi, and the other victims of Black Saturday (20 June). Students used it on 4 November 2009 on the regime’s commemoration of the storming of the U.S. Embassy. Protestors against Ahmadinejad’s visit to New York City used it again on 23 November. Students again used it on Students Day, 7 December, and on Ashura, 27 December that year, it was everywhere. On 22 Bahman (11 February 2010), Revolution Day, groups of protestors who managed to gather enough numbers to march and demonstrate used it, as did protestors in subway stations and trains.

After its revival, people in the streets all over Iran have used it at every following demonstration: 20 February, 1 March, 8 March and Chahar Sanbe Suri (15 March).

What do you want: Peace or Freedom, Safety or Liberty?

Asked about the turning point in Egypt’s Lotus Revolution, former Google executive turned internet activist Wael Ghonim said, “We knew we would win when people began to break through the psychological barrier, when they decided that it was better to die for a cause than to live without dignity."

The sooner the movement cuts its ties with these “leaders”, and cuts them completely, the sooner the people of Iran can begin to progress toward something Iran has never seen nor had before: actual democracy and a country of their own.

This much has been discussed in several quarters, and many reformist sympathizers and fanatic believers in the “green leaders” have made several arguments to head off this kind of change and keep the world safe for the Islamic Republic.

"Being unified is more important than anything right now."

That is exactly the argument used in 1979. Sorry, but that's true. The reformist “leaders” of the Green Movement have repeatedly called for unity, claiming on one side of their mouth that everyone in the movement has a voice while out of the other condemning every aspect of the cries coming from the hearts of the people in the streets. Some things are more important than unity. Dignity is one. Freedom is another.

‎“A calculated move is better than another revolution like 1979.”

No one ever gained their freedom by playing it safe. Iranian citizens who march in the streets, blog, and otherwise demonstrate are not playing it safe. The protestors in Tunisia and Egypt who overthrew their dictators were successful because they didn't play it safe, and those in Algeria, Bahrain, Yemen, Kuwait, Jordan, etc. aren't playing it safe either.

“Making ‘radical’ demands or separating from the ‘green leaders’ will scare off potential recruits from the camp of the hardliners and ‘ordinary’ Iranians.”

Potential recruits from among the hardliners’ camp, the Sepah, the Basiji, and other organizations have little to zero to less than zero trust in the “green leaders”, so the movement will most likely be better off without them. In addition, they, like all Iranians, have been witness to the half-heartedness and the unwillingness to mount an actual challenge to the “ruling establishment” of the reformist camp to which all the so-called “green leaders” belong.

Iranians want secular democracy in an Iranian, not Islamic, Republic. You want freedom, and you deserve it every bit as much as Tunisians and Egyptians, and telling you to wait because a bunch of old men who helped create the mess you are in now haven't managed yet to position themselves to take advantage of the situation should the structure which gives them their prestige and wealth falter is a most dishonourable betrayal.

You can either have the Islamic Republic or you can have freedom, because the Islamic Republic cannot be reformed, period. And asking you to believe in persons, especially ones who clearly do not share your aspirations, rather than in yourselves and your own ideas and goals, is the same as telling you that you do not deserve democracy, that you do not have the right nor the capability to govern yourselves.

As evidenced from statements and many of the actions from each of these and their associates, to be a follower of Mousavi, or of Karroubi, or of Khatami, or any combination of the three, is to be a devotee of the ideals of Ayatollah Khomeini and to strive for a return to the Golden Age of the Islamic Republic.

So ask yourselves this: Are you going to live your own lives, or are you going to give them to your so-called “leaders” to live for you?

I leave you with this, a poem from my favorite poet, Langston Hughes:

A Dream Deferred

What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
Like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore--
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over--
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?

Rooze ma khahad amad.

(See the companion music video to this essay made by my girlfriend:


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The Problem is: the comparison with communism is clear to me. When I read something on Iran my reactor is yes have seen that. My father was almost a starred student, my thesis advisor left Romania because he became one, rape of political prisoners was commonplace political assassination was usual, and on it goes.
To help the Iranians, we have to answer in Eastern European terms the following:
--Is Iran in 1933, 1956 or close to the eighties?
--Where is Imre Nagy (because I believe it somewhere between 33 and 56).
--Any Dubcek or Gorby on horizon?
--Solidarnosc?
--How does the scientific establishment do? You see you have to have nuclears see the state as radioactive and act consequently.
--The regime created the Revolutionary Guard, but that is a more like the Waffen SS (that did not defect) than anything East-European. You need an army to defect,otherwise the only result is a hecatomb.
--I wish Iranians all the luck in the word, because they would need it. (Romanians and now) Arabians (had)have an easier work by comparison.