07 August 2011

What the (Green) Movement really wants

During the last few weeks, we have been inflicted with several pronouncements by anonymous persons, very likely all-male persons, presuming to speak on behalf of and/or issue marching orders to the Movement for secular democracy in Iran.

The first two of these were published 21 Tir 1390 (12 July 2011) on insideIran.org.

The “intellectuals” also sent copies to the “official” organs of the reformist Green Machine, Kaleme and Jaras, but both refused to publish it. One was in the story “Green Movement in Iran Issues New Manifesto in Wake of Arab Uprising”. The other was “Iran’s Greens Call on Diaspora to Speak with One Voice”.

These two rather pompous and anonymous statements, both issued in English rather than Persian, mind you, were naturally and justifiably derided, lampooned, and reviled as was the (revised) Green Charter of Moussavi and Karroubi promulgated on 4 Esfand 1389 (23 February 2011).

Perhaps the best take on these two anonymous statements given by mysterious figures behind the green curtain is on the blog of “lissping”, which she called “So Many Leaders. So Little Leadership.”: http://lissnup.posterous.com/green-leadership

The title alone is comment enough in itself, but the article is well worth the read.

The “intellectuals”, supposedly inside Iran, who wrote the two documents published a rather petulant response to their critics on 27 Tir (18 July), which was also published on insideIran.org and nowhere else. The next day they finally published their manifesto in Persian, again on insideIran.org and nowhere else.
More in a long line of manifestos and charters and demands issued by self-proclaimed and often anonymous wannabe leaders of a movement whose desires they have no intention of fulfilling and in fact oppose.

The first “Green Charter” (aka Statement #18) was promulgated by Mir Hossein Moussavi Khamenei on 15 June 2010 (25 Khordad 1389), shortly after he and fellow reformist Mehdi Karroubi undercut the movement which they presume to lead by cancelling a demonstration they had not even called for.

The second “Green Charter” was supposedly an edited version of the previous one signed this time by Karroubi as well as Moussavi and again issued in lieu of actually doing anything substantial. Among its provisions is a statement that “ours is a movement for reform, not for revolution”.

Speak for yourselves, gentlemen. Perhaps instead of condemning what those whom you claim as your supporters are saying in the streets, you should try listening to them.

In reality, the new “charter” was so far out of step with the “people in the streets” that it may as well have come from a parallel universe.

In addition, their latest fatwa came too soon after their separate but equally obsequious statements on the day of 25 Bahman 1389 (14 February 2011) of submission to the Islamic Republic, the Supreme Leader, the constitution, velayet-e faqih, and the ideals and aspirations of “Imam Khomeini".

I found something interesting while searching on the web, fruitlessly, for a complete English version of Moussavi and Karroubi’s revised Green Charter. I came across an organization called the International Green Charter Movement.

This I found quite interesting. Particularly that it had been inspired by the Green Charter of Human Rights promulgated on 12 June 1988 (22 Khordad 1367).

THAT “Green Charter” charter is based on the principles of the Green Book written by Col. Muammar Muhammad al-Gaddafi. Not to be mistaken, of course, for the Green Book of the Irish Republican Army, neither its 1952 (1330) edition for the Border Campaign nor its 1977 (1354) edition for The Troubles.

Prior to Khordad 1388 (June 2009), to the world the color green in political circles primarily stood for environmentalism often combined with social justice. Most of the political groups which have adopted “Green” as their title have done so as a “Green Party”.

However, at least four of these environmental-social justice groups use the name “Green Movement”, including the leading “green” organization in the State of Israel.

One of the groups using the other name is the Green Party of Iran, founded in 2007.

Of course, the environmentalist Green Party of Iran is hardly the only group within or with connections into the Islamic Republic. More like one of a multitude.

Foremost in most people’s minds when the words “Green” and “Iran” are mentioned in the same sentence is what used to be called the Green Revolution.

Its remnants, once its putative leaders (Moussavi, Karroubi, Khatami, and other reformists) had broken and tamed it into submission, or at least confused and disheartened apathy, were called the Green Movement.

Stolen election, stolen revolution

Moussavi, Karroubi, and Khatami and their sycophantic supporters like to speak as if the people in the streets are with them because they see them as useful tools. But the people are not with them not and never really have been.

Their opponents within the regime understand the reality very well. The Three Stooges are fooling no one, except themselves and their afore-mentioned sycophantic supporters. They should know it’s stupid to bluff when your opponents can see your empty hand.

The people’s participation in the presidential election of 1388 (2009) was most definitely not about support for the reformist agenda of the two candidates from the “out” crowd, formerly called the radicals, or Followers of the Line of the Imam. It was about giving the Iranian-style thumbs-up* to the clique currently in power.

The people at campaign rallies, particularly students at universities, openly demonstrated their disdain for the reform agenda by the verbal abuse to which they subjected the two candidates of the reformist movement. Had they truly expected the “in” crowd to allow a democratic election, they would not have voted at all.

In their own minds, Moussavi, Karroubi, Khatami, and their ilk like to think of the people’s participation in the presidential election on 22 Khordad 1388 (12 June 2009) as a sign of their support for the existence of the regime which they and their fellow Followers of the Line of the Imam helped erect and for their minimally reformist goals.

The millions who voted for Moussavi and Karroubi did so fully expecting their votes to be discounted or stolen. The brazen gall with which the minions of Rahbar Khamenei did so, however, announcing clearly flawed results just two hours after the polls closed, were too much to swallow.

When the people erupted on 13 June (23 Khordad), they were not rising against the theft of an election they expected to be stolen nor even against the faction which stole it, but against the very system itself over which the two factions of insiders were fighting.

Speaking of the election, I have to break ranks with many of my friends and admit that I now believe Dr. Ahmadinejad actually won a clear majority of the votes. Just not the super-majority which the Rahbar-e Enghelab and his cronies needed to justify their masturbatory fantasies of rightness.

Moussavi may have given the Revolution-later-Movement its most identifiable and unifying symbol—the color green—but like imperialists all over the world who steal back anything those they colonize find useful, he and his allies and cronies proceeded to steal it back.

First, came Moussavi’s announcement of the organization of the Rah-e Sabz-e Omid (Green Path of Hope) party.

Then the reformist news agency Jaras began publishing Rah-e Sabz (Green Path) news, which coordinated releases with the news organs of Moussavi (Kaleme) and Karroubi (Saham), as well as those of the other reformist organizations.

Soon, there came a multiplicity of “green” news outlets, Tahavol-e Sabz (Green Evolution), Neda-ye Sabz-e Azadi (Green Voice of Freedom), and the multimedia Rasan-e Sabz-e Iran (Green Media of Iran, “RASA”) .

I call the whole kit-n-kaboodle the Green Machine. Its latest addition of shadowy figures speaking with smoke and mirrors from behind the curtain and putting words in the mouths of people from whom it has nothing but contempt is the Coordination Council of the Green Path of Hope.

Of course, there are also “unauthorized” organizations jumping on the “green” bandwagon, such as the Green Wave of the clueless Amir Hossein Jahanchahi. How dense do you have to be to start what you describe as a covert operation by announcing it at a very public press conference and detailing your plans?

Hey, Mr. Jahanchahi, ask a member of the National United Front for the Liberation of Viet Nam (NUFRONLIV) how well that worked out for them. If you can find any survivors.

In the politics of Iran both within the Islamic Republic and in the diaspora, there is enough green to make a dense jungle. A metaphorical jungle which is just as full of predators as the real thing.

New directions

The time has come for the real Movement, the true movement of the “people of the streets” which exists below the surface, to walk out of the jungle and leave the green to their would-be masters.

Each of you needs to be your own Buddha, Prophet, Christ, Messiah, Guru, Mahavira, shaman, Simurgh, etc.

I know many will complain, or at least think, “But ‘green’ is such an established symbol, uniting the opponents of the ruling elite!”. I can only reply that “green” has already been stolen from you.

Also, as former President Abolhassan Banisadr remarked over a year ago: “We can’t say that we are one color, and that color is green. If freedom is our ultimate goal, we must make this movement reflect all Iran, the rainbow that Iran is”.

Once the Movement in Iran strikes out on its own, away from the colonial reformists, it can finally begin to work toward the real goals which stir the passions in the heart of each of its members and supporters.

The real goals of the “people in the streets”

Above all else, the majority of the people of Iran want one thing: THE END OF THE ISLAMIC REPUBLIC.

This is true even for the most devoutly religious Iranians I know. Maybe even especially for them, for reasons I will give shortly.

At the top of the list of demands I believe the members of the Movement have is the immediate abolition of the Gasht-e Ershadi, along with relaxation and eventual end of forced hijab and controls of Islamic behavior.

Freedom to choose how one wants to dress and adorn one’s body is one of the most personal of all freedoms.

I mention this first because it goes toward one of the most deeply held desires of the members of the Movement. They want freedom of religion. At the moment, there is no freedom of religion in Iran, not even for Jafari (Twelver Shia) Muslims.

When religion is dictated upon a society, it robs those who would otherwise devoutly follow its tenets and practices of the right to choose to do so just as much as it robs those who would choose otherwise to follow their own consciences. It makes their willingness and faith meaningless.

Thus freedom from the establishment of religion is necessary for the practice of religion to be free. Hand-in-hand with this goes freedom from religion, the right to choose to not follow one particular religion, or any religion at all.

Only in such a society do the sacrifices and faith and discipline of believers have any real meaning or substance for them.

The only way to accomplish this state of affairs—where both the faithful of Athnashariyyah are free to be faithful, believers of other religions are free to be faithful to their own religions, and unbelievers are free to disbelieve—is to completely separate mosque and state from each other.

There needs to be erected between the two a wall stronger and higher than the so-called “Green Line” (yet another “green” reference) separating those in the State of Israel from their cousins in the rest of Palestine.

In religious terms, the Islamic Republic is an abomination, the ultimate blasphemy against the God it claims to serve. In fact, by charging those who oppose it with the crime of “mohareb”, it is claiming that it, not Allah, is God.

The “people in the streets” have signaled their desire for secular democracy time and time again with the slogan “Independence! Freedom! Iranian Republic!”, in the last few demonstrations preceding this with “We Don’t Want an Islamic Regime!” to make their point perfectly clear.

Besides the abolition of the Gasht-e Ershad and the relaxation of enforcement of hijab and “Islamic behavior”, the following things need to happen:

Immediate freedom for all political prisoners and other prisoners of conscience.

Recognition of the equal rights of women at all levels of law and society, including their rights to hold office, marry whom they choose, and give testimony in court held to be equal to that of one man.

An end to "starring" of university students and recognition of the right of all to an education regardless of political activities, ethnicity, or religion.

An end to compulsory military service.

Recognition of political parties, including those which advocate abolition of the Islamic Republic.
Freedom to assemble, hold protests, demonstrate, and petition for redress of grievances.

Withdrawal of the Basij-e Mostazafin from all universities and policing activities and their eventual incorporation into the armed forces.

Withdrawal of the Sepah-e Pasdaran-e Enghelab-e Eslami (Revolutionary Guard) from commercial enterprises and policing activities, and their incorporation in the armed forces.

Withdrawal of all clergy from all branches of government, including the legislature, the ministries, the executive, the armed forces, and the judiciary.

Freedom of the workers and of the mostazafin to organize for their own self-interest, including the rights to form unions, to picket, and to strike.

Abolish requirements to pass religious classes in order to graduate university.

An end to segregation of males and females in education, transportation, eating, and other venues.
Establishment of a professional system of courts free from political interference.

The right to be safe and secure in one’s personal abode from search and seizure without warrant obtained from a competent magistrate upon sufficient probable cause.

Freedom from arrest without warrant issued by competent judge.

Freedom to have reasonable bail if arrested.

Right of all accused to trial by jury of their peers, with innocence under the law presumed unless found guilty beyond reasonable doubt.

Freedom from torture.

Freedom from self-incrimination.

Freedom from double jeopardy.

Right to counsel if accused of a crime and of as much consultation as needed to defend oneself prior to and at trial.

Right to remain silent during questioning by police or other authorities.

Prohibition of questioning of suspects without their counsel present.

Right of the accused to face their accusers.

Abolition of capital punishment.

Abolition of the law of retaliation.

Abolition of all forms of corporal punishment.

Abolition of all other cruel and unusual punishement, including excessive sentences.

Freedom of all religions—Jafari Shia, Sunni, Sufi, Bahai, Zartosht, Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, Mandean, Manichean, Ismaili, Alevi, Yazidi, Zaydi, Yarsani, Druze, Allawi, etc.—as well as freedom not to observe any religious practice at all.

Right of minority ethnic groups—including but not limited to Azeris, Kurds, Gilakis, Mazadranis, Qashqai, Turkmen, Ahwazis, Lurs, Laks, Baluchis, Sistanis, Circassians, Assyrians, Afghans, etc.—to have education in their own languages as well as Persian-Farsi, to have bilingual signs, and equal rights with the dominant Persian group.

Freedom of speech without retribution, freedom to be silent, and freedom to hear.

Freedom of the press, and freedom to read and view, including of multimedia and the internet.

Abolition of censorship of literature, the arts, multimedia, and the internet.

Freedom to gather for recreational purposes without being molested by overzealous police and security forces.

Abolition of polygamy.

Abolition of temporary marriage.

Right to a living wage, and for that wage to be paid regularly.

The right to eat and drink sufficiently to maintain one’s health.

The right to equal pay for equal work.

The right to adequate housing, with safe and sufficient electricity and plumbing.

The right to be free from discrimination regardless of age, sex, race, nationality, ethnicity, religion, lack of religion, or sexual orientation.

The right to personal property.

The right to privacy.

Freedom from taxation without adequate representation.

Right of self-defense of one’s person and those of one’s friends or loved ones if physically attacked by one or more others.

The Movement

With talking heads discussing under what conditions reformists, whether of the “official” reform movement or its “green” stepchild, can take part in the upcoming parliamentary elections, I say there are none. Taking part in the useless exercise that is elections in the Islamic Republic only legitimizes the illegitimate.

The only proper action toward elections under those terms is boycott.

The elections are like shiny keys dangled before an infant, in this case to distract the Iranian people from the economic misery into which the mismanagement and kleptomania of their rulers have brought you.

Support each other, as you have been. An injury to one is an injury to all. Support workers and the mostazafin when they go out on strike; never cross a picket line. When the bazaar crosses over to join you, welcome its members as comrades.

Build networks not just between your “leaders” or among your own acquaintances but across class lines and from grassroots to grassroots. Citizens of Iran unite; you have nothing to lose but your chains.

The welcoming hand offered to bazaaris who cross the political divide to stand with the people should be extended just as quickly to supporters of the ruling establishment who realize they are fighting against the people of Iran. This means even members of the security forces.

The Movement belongs to you, not to the so-called leaders who have stolen its name and falsely claim to speak for you. As for its name, I don’t think we need to have a Provisional Green Movement, or a Continuity Green Movement, or even a True/Real Green Movement.

In the 1960’s, the counterculture movement that spread across America, Canada, Europe, and even countries such as the Philippines, was called simply “the Movement”, mainly because of the diverse strains within its all-encompassing embrace.

Similar in many ways to the Movement in Iran today.

I’ll just call it by that simple name, the Movement, until its members inside Iran, the actual people in the streets rather than their would-be leaders, come up with a name.

Something like, say, “23rd Khordad Movement”?

We don’t want an Islamic regime: Esteghlal! Azadi! Edalat-e Ejtemaee!

Rooze ma khahad amad.

*NOTE: In Iran, the thumbs up sign is the same thing as "giving the finger" in the West.

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