(Originally posted to Facebook 18 February 2011)
Let me start by saying, I want all of you out in the streets, every last one of you, until the Islamic Republic collapses under the weight of its own contradictions. But I also have to warn you that unless you are willing to cut with the past and cut cleanly, you might as well stay home indoors cowering from the Basiji and the Ershadi.
The Green Movement doesn’t need Dear Uncle Mir Hossein and Dear Uncle Mehdi any more than it needs Dear Uncle Napoleon. As a matter of fact, the Green Movement needs those two to stay as far away as possible. So, go to the back of the car, gentlemen, you are not the pilots of this freedom train, you are merely passengers who are potential saboteurs.
True, without their roundabout initiative of prostrate begging for a permit to protest in favor of the Tunisians and Egyptians, the demos that have revived the fighting spirit of the Movement and re-awakened its revolutionary fire might not have taken place. However, that very prostrate begging erased in advance any credit they might get because the asking for permission conceded the Islamic Republic’s right to deny it.
We saw this kind of action once before, on the anniversary this summer past of the stolen elections in June 2009. Then too, Messrs. Moussavi Khamenei and Karroubi pleaded obediently for permission with crossed fingers behind their backs and winks to their audience with assurances that yes, the marches would go on with or without permission.
Well, until just a week before the scheduled march, then it was “Oops! We don’t have permission from Uncle Napoleon so we better be good little Islamic Republicans or something bad might happen.”
Ok, so maybe I took creative license with their exact words, but as you all know that was more or less exactly what happened.
When Moussavi Khamenei and Karroubi first announced their plea to the regime for permission to march in support of the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions which government officials had heaped mass amounts of praise upon, I was offended. First, the idea that they asked for permission to protest offended the hell out of me; Gandhi never “asked permission”, neither did King, nor the Wobblies, nor anyone who ever accomplished a damn thing. Second, I saw their ploy for what it was, a cheap shot at embarrassing their rivals within the regime by using their own words against them. That’s all, a chance at one-upmanship in the ever-shifting chess game that is Iranian politics.
Still, in the immediate aftermath of the rather successful showing the members of the Green Movement made I felt my own sense of honour and self-respect compelled me to give them credit for having made the initial call. Then the reformist and Moussavi-Karroubi allied Participation Front made a public call for reform as the only way to preserve the Islamic Republic. The nearly identical statements of Moussavi and Karroubi that appeared shortly afterward allegedly praising the marchers centered around calls to follow the ideals of “Imam” Khomeini (both gentlemen addressed him with that title) and get back to the original ideals of the Islamic Republic. They didn’t mention anything about chicken-fucking, though, at least a little bit of good sense prevailed.
The Islamic Republic cannot be reformed, only reburied, hopefully with a stake permanently through its heart. The so-called reformers, the politicians anyway, are merely striking a pose, including Moussavi Khamenei and Karroubi. Were they sincere, they would have united under one umbrella for the election of June 2009 as did the opposition in the Philippines for the snap election of February 1986 which was likewise stolen by a dictator, a theft that led to events which ultimately brought into the seat of power the first government installed by a People Power revolution.
An even more tasteless attempt at exploitation came three days after 25 Bahman when the so-called and self-anointed Coordinating Committee of the Green Path of Hope (Moussavi’s flagship) attempted to hijack the people’s upcoming march to commemorate the murders of Saneh Jaleh and Mohammad Mokhtari by leading with a call for people to come out in a show of support for the “political positions of Mir Hossein Moussavi and Mehdi Karroubi”, only later mentioning the two victims who are the true focus of the anger of next Sunday’s marchers in passing, almost like an afterthought. It reduces the Green Movement to the status of their posse, their entourage, to be hauled out and waved for status and influence.
So, which would you rather have, Iran, reform or revolution? Real substantive change or more of the same with a different coat of paint? In Tunisia, the jasmine revolutionaries did not march for more of the same, even in a “reformed” version. In Egypt, the tulip revolutionaries did not accept the stunting of their hopes with the lie of “reform” either.
None of those currently marching in Libya, Syria, Yemen, Bahrain, Algeria, Jordan, Djibouti, Morocco, and elsewhere after being inspired by the two lofty examples has the mere goal of reform. The two young Iranians, Saneh and Mohammad, did not die for “reform”, so that Moussavi Khamenei and Karroubi could move up a couple of notches in the pecking order.
Those who only want or who are willing to even begrudgingly accept a kinder, gentler dictatorship do not deserve freedom. They won’t even get what they say they want because the Islamic Republic is neither (which I said months and months ago, though I doubt Karroubi got the phrase from me). In the Islamic Republic of Iran, even the right to choose Islam has been taken away; by prescribing a religion or belief a government necessarily prevents citizens choosing to follow or believe.
Reform politicians are not the friends of the Green Movement, not even its alleged friends, Moussavi Khamenei and Karroubi, much less Khatami and Hashemi Rafsanjani. Rather, they are in fact its most bitter rivals and they hate or at least fear it as much as, and possibly more than, the hardliners of the regime. As long as it has its uses, they will pretend to play the game, just like they did in 1999. But as soon as the Green Movement restarts the revolution stalled by its “leaders”, they will abandoned ship and change the colour of their fleece from black back to white.
Do not ever forget that Moussavi Khamenei, Karroubi, and Khatami all three vigorously condemned “adventurous” slogans used by marchers in the fall of 2009, calls for secular democracy, an Iranian republic, freedom, independence, and change not reform.
This moment we are at, this moment now, is your chance, your one chance to catch the wave of freedom that began in the summer of 2009 and fell back to wash across your neighbors before rebounding back to you. Catch the wave and ride it home. Give yourselves and each other something better than "less evil". March for Iran, not for a man.
As for you Revolutionary Guards (and Basijis and other security forces), I call on you to emulate your cousins in Tunisia and Egypt to guard the people’s revolution of the many who are your true charges against the few who exploit you both, whether those few pose as “principlists” or as “reformers” or as “pragmatists”.