A new manifesto outlines the aims of Iran's
Green Movement, including a free press and the resignation of
Five major figures in Iran's reform
movement issued a manifesto (reproduced below) Sunday, Jan.
3, calling for the resignation of President Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad and the abolition of clerical control of the
voting system and candidate selection.
Journalist Robin Wright interviewed for
Global Viewpoint one of the signatories, reform-movement
founder and scholar Abdolkarim Soroush, about the
manifesto, which also calls for the recognition of
law-abiding political, student, non-governmental and women’s
groups; labor unions; freedom for all means of mass
communication; and an independent judiciary, including
popular election of the judicial chief.
The signatories, all Iranians living
outside the country, also include dissident cleric
Mohsen Kadivar; former parliamentarian and Islamic Guidance
Minister Ataollah Mohajerani; investigative journalist Akbar
Ganji; and Abdolali Bazargan, an Islamic thinker and son of
a former prime minister.
Robin Wright, a former diplomatic
correspondent for the Washington Post and author of four
books on Iran since 1973, is now a senior fellow at the US
Institute for Peace in Washington.
Q: Why did you decide to issue a
A: The Green Movement is into its
seventh month now, and I and my friends have been following
events very closely and have been in touch with some of our
friends in Iran. After [the protests on] Ashura on Dec 27,
we came to realize that it was a real turning point. It was
at that time that the regime decided to crack down on the
Green Movement. In one instance, the regime rolled over a
protester and killed him. It was a very severe message to
all the protesters and defenders and supporters of the Green
Movement that it intends to crush the movement harshly.
On the other hand, we have also
individually been frequently asked by our friends: What are
the real demands of the Green Movement, because the Green
Movement was something that jumped on the scene? There was
no planning for it. The election was the beginning, and it
just evolved and evolved. As it evolved, some demands had
emerged, but there was nothing that showed what was in the
minds of the leaders of the movement.
The five of us thought that because we are
close enough to the leaders of the movement – Mir Hossein
Mousavi, Mehdi Karroubi and Mohammad Khatami – and know
their demands, we should start drafting a manifesto or
statement about the Green Movement. So we started drafting,
and then Mousavi’s statement [that he would die for the
movement if necessary] was issued [on Jan. 1]. Since we are
living outside the country, don’t have to fear [the
government] and know what is in the mind of the people, we
decided to publish our own statement to make clear what
Mousavi’s intentions and goals of the Green Movement are.
Q: Whose views does this manifesto
reflect – just the leadership or the wider range of
A: This is a pluralistic movement,
including believers and non-believers, socialists and
liberals. There are all walks of life in the Green Movement.
We tried to come up with the common points for all. We know
there are many more demands, many more than these.
Maybe in the next stage, they may demand
redrafting the constitution. But for now, they would like to
work within the framework of the constitution, and we were
careful not to trespass those limits.
One of the suggestions we made was on the
border [of going beyond the basic demands], which was the
suggestion that the head of the judiciary should be elected
rather than appointed by the supreme leader. I suggested
that point – if we have changes in the constitution, we have
to make the head of the judiciary elected. But the majority
of the points reflect the mind of the leadership.
Q: What difference will this
A: It will make the goals and
objectives clearer and better defined and articulated. At
this stage, we need it. I’ve said for years that the
revolution was theory-less. It was a revolt against the shah
– a negative rather than a positive theory. I insisted that
if there is going to be another movement, it has to have a
theory. People should know what they want, not just what
they don’t want. So we are trying – in a modest way – to put
forward a theory for this movement.
Goals and objectives are based on theories
and foundations. And we do have theories about liberty. We
have not brought those theories into these points, but they
underlie the points. They are invisible to the armed eyes,
meaning the regime.
Q: What’s next for the Green
A: Nobody knows. There are all
sorts of cries that the leaders of the Green Movement should
submit themselves to the supreme leader, but that won’t take
place. Both sides have to be prepared for a serious
negotiation. That could be the next stage. [Former
President] Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani might step in to start a
negotiation for national reconciliation.
Q: Can the regime crack down to the
point of eliminating the Green Movement?
A: I don’t think so. It is a
product of the reform movement, which was suppressed.
Ahmadinejad did his best to remove all sort of reform
movements and to start a new era. But the regime could not
put out the fire. And now we have the Green Movement, which
is a culmination of the reform movement, a new stage.
I hope the government recognizes it has to
have negotiations with the Green Movement and will have to
sacrifice something for them to be productive. Heaven forbid
that it turns into violence, which would be bad for the
Green Movement and the country.
Q: Will compromise satisfy the new
generation of reformers?
A: Compromise has a negative
connotation. But if even one of these demands is fulfilled –
such as freedom of press – that will be enough to change
drastically the political scene and atmosphere of the
country. If they accept one of these 10 demands – and not
the rest – it will revolutionize the whole country. Maybe
release the prisoners; so many competent people are in
prison. Any one of these would revolutionize the atmosphere.
The following is an English translation
(from the Persian) from the Jaras website of the manifesto
signed by Iranian reform-movement founder and scholar
Abdolkarim Soroush; dissident cleric Mohsen Kadivar;
former parliamentarian and Islamic Guidance Minister
Ataollah Mohajerani; investigative journalist Akbar Ganji;
and Abdolali Bazargan, an Islamic thinker and son of a
former prime minister.
We fully support the positions of the
leaders of the Movement in Iran (Mousavi, Karroubi, and
Khatami), and believe that the optimal demands of the Green
Movement of the Iranian people at this point are as follows.
1. Resignation of Mr. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
[as the president] and holding a new presidential election
under the supervision of neutral organs; abolish the vetting
process of candidates [by the Guardian Council] and
formation of an independent election commission that
includes the representatives of the opposition and
protestors, in order to draft the rules and regulations for
holding free and fair elections.
2. Releasing all the political prisoners,
and investigating the torture and murder of the protestors
over the past several months in open courts in the presence
of a jury and the attorneys of their [the victims'] own
choice, and compensating those who have been hurt and their
3. Free means of mass communication,
including the press, the Internet, voice [radio] and visage
[television]; abolishing censorship and allowing banned
publications [such as dailies] to resume; expanding
non-governmental TV and satellite channels; ending the
filtering of the Internet and making it easily accessible to
the public, and purging liars and provocateurs from
[national] radio and television.
4. Recognizing the rights of all the
lawful political groups, university student and women
movements, the NGOs and civil organizations, and labor
unions for lawful activities and the right to peaceful
protest according to Article 27 of the constitution.
5. Independence of the universities [from
political meddling and intervention]; running the
universities democratically by the academics themselves;
evacuating the military and quasi-military forces from the
universities, and abolishing the illegal Supreme Council for
Cultural Revolution [that interferes in the affairs of the
6. Putting on trial all those that have
tortured and murdered [people], and those who ordered the
past crimes, particularly those over the past several
7. Independence of the judiciary by
electing [rather than appointing] its head; abolishing
illegal and special courts [such as the Special Court for
the Clergy]; purging the judiciary from unfair judges, and
banning judiciary officials from giving political speeches
and carrying out orders of higher officials [the president
and the Supreme Leader], instead of implementing the laws
fairly and neutrally.
8. Banning the military, police, and
security forces from intervening in politics, the economy,
and culture, and ordering them to act professionally.
9. Economic and political independence of
the seminaries, and preventing politicizing the clerics to
support the government, and banning the use of Friday
prayers sermons for issuing [by the clerics] illegal and
10. Electing all the officials who must
become responsive to criticisms, and limiting the number of
terms that they can be elected.
Not meeting these [legitimate] demands of
the Green Movement and increasing the [violent] crackdown
and oppression will not only not help us to pass the
[present] crisis, but will also deepen the crisis with
painful consequences, for which only the Supreme Leader will