19 June 2011

Meditations in Green

“Rank-and-file university students no longer believe reforms or elections can bring about the changes they desire. Previously, students distinguished between the reformers and the hardliners, but events of the past months have changed this. Students now believe some reformers may be sincere, but are simply powerless. Their presence in the government only prolongs the life of a system incapable of reform.” – student leader Saeed Razavi Faqih, 8 July 2003 (17 Tir 1382)

The bear in the green woods

The first weekend in September, a middle class man from the suburbs went out into the forest alone on his first hunting trip. A novice, or “green”, hunter.

It was bear season.

After tracking for several hours, he heard some rumbling in the bushes.

Suddenly a bear came charging out. The man raised his rifle. The bear stood up on his hind legs. The man fired. He missed.

The bear rushed the man, tackled him to ground, ripped off his clothes, and raped him.

The next weekend, the same man went out to the same woods. He encountered the same bear when it charged out of the bushes. Again, he raised his rifle, fired, and missed.

Again, the bear tackled the man to the ground, ripped off his clothes, and raped him.

The next weekend, the man went out to the woods geared up for hunting and the whole scenario repeated itself.

In fact, the same scenario repeated itself every weekend of hunting season that fall.

Finally, on the third weekend of November, the last weekend in bear season, there was one change in the sequence of events.

The bear came charging out of the bushes, the man fired his rifle and missed, the bear threw him to the ground and ripped off his clothes.

This time, however, before proceeding with the rape, the bear paused and said, “You don’t really come here to hunt, do you?”.

The meaning of green

The colour green has had many varied and sometimes opposing meanings in different cultures across the millenia. It has stood for nature, and has thus come to stand for environmentalism. In medieval Europe it stood for both love and lust, connotations of which appear in Persian poetry of the same era. For some cultures, it also represents jealousy and envy.

In contrast to its meaning for ancient Egyptians of life, fertility, and rebirth, among the Celts it represented death, decay, and evil. Considering that, it may seem a little odd that in modern times green in Ireland is a symbol of Irish republicanism and of Ireland itself.

In the United States, the colour green also represents prosperity, in part because of the colour of American money. For Africans, it shares a similar meaning, representing the natural richness of the continent.

For Mir Hossein Moussavi Khomeini, as for many others, it represents both Islam and the Seyyeds, or descendants of the Prophet Mohammad. It was for this reason he chose it as the colour of his presidential election campaign in 2009 (1388).

The Moussavis, as well as the Kazemis, are descended from Musa ibn Jafar al-Kazim, the seventh Imam in Ithna Ashara (Twelver) Shia Islam.

Other prominent members of the regime from that line include: Ruhollah Moussavi Khomeini, Ahmad Moussavi Khomeini, Abdolkarim Moussavi Ardebili, Mohammad Moussavi Khoeniha, Abdolvahed Moussavi Lari, and Abolfazi Moussavi Zanjani.

Considering that in the early years of the Islamic Republic his main opponent, Dr. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was such a bitter opponent of leftists, one might wonder why he chose red as the colour of his own campaign.

Green is also the colour of hope, and for this reason became the first symbol of revolution in France in 1789 (1168), before the red, white, & blue was adopted.

Green Revolution

The movement in Iran is not about the damned election of 2009 (1388), which was only a peripheral issue even in its immediate aftermath.

The now dormant revolution which began in June 2009 (Khordad 1388) did not begin on 12 June (22 Khordad) as its reformist wannabe “leaders” pretend, but on the next day, 13 June (23 Khordad). On that day, the first mass demonstrations against the brazen electoral fraud took place, a silent march of over a million citizens in the streets of Tehran and hundreds of thousands more throughout the country.

More than a million marching silently through the streets is an impressive display. A few thousand doing the same on a sidewalk as was the case recently, not so much.

Their anger is an explosion of animosity over degradation and oppression suffered during the previous thirty years under the Islamic Republic, velayet-e faqih, and the “ideals and aspirations” of “Imam” Moussavi Khomeini.

The members of the real Green Movement, the “people in the streets”, were (and remain even more so now) sick and tired of feeling “like a dog that’s been beat too much, till you spend half your life just covering up”.

The aspirations of the real movement have been and remain freedom, civil and human rights and liberties, equality for all, in an Iranian rather than Islamic Republic.

Green roots

The roots of the movement which launched the Green Revolution lie in the student protests of July 1999 (Tir 1378).

The protests were supported by many professors, intellectuals such as Akbar Ganji, Abdolkarim Soroush, and Mohsen Kadivar, Grand Ayatollah Montazeri, the Nation of Iran Party, National Front, Freedom Movement, and Pan-Iran Party, workers, vendors, cab drivers, and even the bazaar.

But not by the Followers of the Line of the Imam, whom the students, women’s rights activists, workers, and intellectuals had helped put back into power as the supposed “reform” movement.

Initially protestors had numbered in the hundreds. After the attack on the student dormitories at the University of Tehran of 9 July (18 Tir), the number swelled to tens, even hundreds of thousands, and spread to other cities and population groups.

The Office for the Consolidation of Unity tried—and failed—to put an Islamic stamp on the protests. For example, they were unable to get students to chant “Allahu Akbar!”. Instead, they chanted slogans such as “Marg bar estebad!” (Death to despotism) and “Ya marg ya azadi!” (Death or freedom), and asked, “Khatami, Khatami, where are you?”.

Listening for condemnation of the attack from the president whom they had helped elect, they heard nothing but the chirping of crickets.

On 14 July (23 Tir), Khatami and the rest of his “reformist” allies, including the Office for the Consolidaton of Unity, finally responded. By attending a rally to demonstrate support for “the system” that had been called by Rahbar-e Enghelab (Leader of the Revolution) Ali Hosseini Khamenei.

"If I retreated, I retreated against the system I believed in,” Khatami told a group of students at Tehran University on 6 December 2004 (16 Azar 1383). “I considered it necessary to save the ruling establishment." This was in answer to questions about his government’s failure to enact any meaningful reforms.

In response to Khatami’s claim that Iranians had more civil liberties than any other country in the region, one student shouted back, “We have freedom of expression. We just don’t have freedom after expression”.

For more on the alleged expansion of freedoms and civil liberties under the Khatami government, I recommend watching Jafar Panahi’s 2000 (1379) film “The Circle”.

The so-called “reform movement” was not so much about real change as it was propaganda to return the Followers of the Line of the Imam, or maktabis (radicals), to the power they upon which they held a monopoly in the early years of the Islamic Republic.

Green seeds

When Saeed Hajjarian and his cronies at the Center for Strategic Studies planned the return of the Followers of the Line of the Imam as the “reform movement”, their first choice for the presidential elections of 1997 (1376) was not former Minister of Culture and Guidance Khatami. Rather, it was his past boss, former Prime Minister Moussavi Khamenei.

After consulting with his cousin, Rahbar Hosseini Khamenei, he declined the offer. He was offered the position again in 2005 (1384), but declined after meeting with Karroubi, Khatami, and Mohammad Moussavi Khoeniha, the triumvirate at the top of the maktabi flagship Majma-e Rowhaniyun-e Mobarez (Association of Combatant Clerics).

For 2009, the leadership of the so-called “reform” movement looked again to former Prime Minister Moussavi Khamenei. He dithered so long that they once again tapped Khatami as their candidate. When Moussavi Khomeini suddenly threw his hat in the ring, Khatami quickly stepped aside and gave him his full support.

Mir Hossein Moussavi Khamenei has been a regime insider since before there was an Islamic Republic. In addition to his term as Iran’s last prime minister, he has filled numerous offices for the regime, including as senior advisor to both Presidents Hashemi Rafasanjani and Khatami.

Contrary to his campaign publicity claims about being an outsider who was nothing more than a painter and architect, at the time of the election he was president of the Iran Academy of Arts, which is under the Ministry of Culture and Guidance, and he also sat on both the Supreme Council of Cultural Revolution and the Expediency Discernment Council.

Besides former President Khatami, the Moussavi campaign was actively supported by the Majma-e Rowhaniyun-e Mobarez (Association of Combatant Clerics), the Sazman-e Mojahedin-e Enghelab-e Eslami (Mojahedin of the Islamic Revolution Organization), Jebhe-e Mosharekat-e Iran-e Eslami (Islamic Iran Participation Front), and the Daftar-e Tahkeem-e Vahdat (Office for the Consolidation of Unity).

During the campaign, he described himself as a “principlist reformist”.
That doesn’t sound like very much of an outsider, does it?

Whenever a politician steps out of the shadows claiming to be an outsider, watch for who his (or her) supporters are. And your back and your wallet.

Green Machine

The Green Revolution started the day after the fraudulent election of 2009/1357 (13 June/23 Khordad). We all know its course that summer.

In the middle of August, (after leaving his would-be followers hanging in the wind for two months), Moussavi Khamenei announced the establishment of the Rah-e Sabz-e Omid (Green Path of Hope), saying it was to be not another political party but an open, broad-based mass organization.

This was in the middle of the Stalinesque show trials of reformists, activists, student leaders, and others who the regime deemed culpable of complicity in “the sedition”, regardless of the lack of evidence thereof.

No stampede to the organization’s doors took place. In later communications, Moussavi Khamenei referred to his new group as a reformist political party working in conjunction with other reformist political parties. See above.
Rather than being an open organization, decisions about policy and strategy were handed down from its Central Committee, composed initially of just him and his wife, Zahra Rahnavard Boroujerdi but now including fellow former candidate Mehdi Karroubi. Kind of like Lenin’s “democratic centralism”.

Since his and Karroubi’s restriction to their homes, the voice of the Rah-e Sabz-e Omid has been the Coordination Council of the Green Path of Hope. It has an equally democratic, broad-based composition: Moussavi Kamenei advisor Ardeshir Amir Arjomand and Karroubi advisor Mojtaba Vahedi. Both are stalwarts of the so-called reform movement, like their bosses.

There is also in the Islamic Republic a Coordination Council of the Reform Front and a Coordination Council of the Islamic Revolution Forces.

As noted in previous essays, the Rah-e Sabz-e Omid (and its Coordination Council) have synchronized their activities and announcements with those of the other reformist organizations lifted above.

Again, as previously noted, the list of news and propaganda outlets directly connected to Moussavi Khamenei and Karroubi is impressive. They also coordinate with the other such agencies of the “reform” movement.

The “house arrest” under which the two “green leaders” have been placed amounts to about the same thing as children being grounded for misbehavior.
At least in comparison to other house arrests, such as that of former Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh endured for fourteen years after being deposed by the same faction of people (some the very same persons) who brought Iran the Islamic Republic. Or that suffered for fifteen years by Burma’s Aung San Suu Kyi.

After not seeing them among the protestors since the third day of the Green Revolution, many began to ask, “Where is Moussavi?” and “Where is Karroubi?”. Those same people might very well be asking the same question now. Political prisoners and other prisoners of conscience in Iran’s prisons, even some of the toughest such as Evin and Rajai Shahr and Gohar Dasht, have been able to get messages to the outside world.

Most notably that I can think of on the spot are Majid Tavakoli, who has done so several times, Nasrin Sotoudeh, and Isa Saharkiz.

During the “Troubles” in Northern Ireland from 1969-1998 (1348-1377) Irish republicans managed to communicate with their organizations and families through a variety of covert means from the state-of-the-art maximum security H-Blocks at Long Kesh in Northern Ireland. Bobby Sands even made a successful run for a seat in the British Parliament from Long Kesh, and this while he was on hunger strike!

If Moussavi Khamenei and Karroubi really wanted to communicate, to not hide and let others take the heat, they would.

Green Movement

The one good thing Moussavi Khamenei has done for the movement was to distribute T-shirts, hat, headscarves, ribbons, and wristbands in the colour green. It gave the formerly silent majority who joined with the various reformists forces listed above to throw a major wrench in the engine of the regime an instant symbol around which to rally.

It also proved a great equalizer. One protestor remarked that she was proud to wear the green not only because, for her, it meant resistance to tyranny but because when she, a resident of South Tehran, wore it, no one asked her where she was from but immediately accepted her as belonging, as one of them.

Other than that, he, Karroubi, and other reformist leaders (Khatami in particular), have condemned the slogans of the people of the streets, distanced themselves from their actions, and generally done everything in their power to put the movement in its place by strongly opposing its desperate cry for freedom and for dignity.

To add insult to injury, they have even on several occasions called on their supporters to take part in the regime’s self-aggrandizing ceremonies as supporters. For 22 Bahman 1388 (11 February 2010), Moussavi Khamenei even said that members of the movement should leave all symbols identifying with it at home, specifically anything green.

It ain’t easy being green, especially when you not only face the batons, tear gas, fists, and bullets of the Basiji and police as well as trial and imprisonment by the regime but desertion and stones thrown from behind by those whom you trust to have your back.

They have never at any time ever called for any real change to benefit the Iranian people, much less taken steps in that direction. They have opposed constitutional change on numerous occasions. They have used the people of Iran as nothing more than bargaining chips in their own never-ending quarrels with the ruling establishment.

Remember the reformist slogan, coined by its mastermind and chief strategist, former Vice Minister of Intelligence and Security for Political Affairs Saeed Hajjarian: "Our aim is to turn enemies of the system into critics and critics into supporters."

When I was a kid, around seven or eight, one of the neighborhood bullies beat me up and threw me in a ditch full of sewage from an overflowing septic tank. Every time I tried to climb out, crying and stinking, bruised and sore, covered in piss, shit, and God only knows what else, he kept pushing me back in, laughing. Yes, that really happened.

Please, if you are one of the people reading this who keeps calling on the “people in the streets”—the students, housewives, activists, workers, mostazafin, intellectuals, bazaaris, laborers, etc.—to continue supporting Moussavi Khamenei and Karroubi and/or the so-called reformists, for God’s sake, stop.

Otherwise you are acting just like that bully from my childhood, pushing them back into the ditch filled with piss, shit, and God knows what else that they are trying to climb out of.

And if you are someone who still believes that these reformists who have time and time again expressed their love for and devotion to the Islamic Republic, especially for its early days, velayet-e faqih, the ideals and aspirations of “Imam” Khomeini, and the current constitution of the state will somehow magically produce freedom, independence, secular democracy, and equal rights, then I have only one thing to say to you: You don’t really come here to hunt, do you?

(The bear in the woods joke as written by actor Clark Johnson for the 1990’s American TV show “Homicide: Life on the Street”)

(The quote from student leader Saeed Razavi Faqih is from an interview by Kaveh Ehsani, for the Middle East Report: http://www.merip.org/mero/mero071503)

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