Thursday, July 30, 2009

Khiaban No. 32: Pressure from below ... and then what?

Translation of the lead article from the Iranian newspaper Khiaban, #32. Thanks to the sender! 

Pressure from Below, Haggling Above; or Pressure from Below, People's Power from Below?
Khiaban # 32 / Wednesday, July 29, 2009

People are not leaving the streets. Tomorrow, the city's streets will belong to the people again. Different groups of people and countless dissenting citizens are preparing memorials for the martyrs and the dead of the current Iranian revolution. Until now, names and details of 78 martyrs have been published. Many families, due to pressure from the regime's security and intelligence forces, have stayed silent and have not shared their immense grief with other people.

These killings started with the direct and unambiguous order of Ali Khamenei, the leader of the Islamic Republic, in his June 19th Friday prayers speech. He said that from the next day anybody who took to the streets to protest would be held responsible for the loss of their own life. People, however, took up this responsibility and, in the face of the supreme jurist's bullets, machetes and knives, took to the streets to demand their rights from this regime of injustice. The brutality and ruthlessness of the supreme jurist's death squads was beyond compare. The order was to employ the maximum violence in order to impose an atmosphere of terror on the people and bring a graveyard-like silence to the society. That mediocre clown, Ahmadinejad, took up the directive of the supreme leader, using the dissent-killing machineries of the Sepah [Revolutionary Guards] and the Basij. The gangs of ruthlessness and brutality had their eyes on the 1980s experience and were imagining the absolute success of the state terror. What fools' dreams!

This time, there was not merely a small, vanguard group at the forefront [of the fight], whose shedding of their lives even could not save the barricades of street resistance from falling. This time the entire society had risen and they had erected their street barricades against a criminal minority.

In this bloody struggle -- in which the people, armed with their solidarity, hope, desire for freedom and a collective love, were on one side, and a governance equipped with the most horrific instruments for murdering its own citizens on the other -- countless of the purest of this land's children have fallen. Countless martyrs have become witness to the naked violence of a system of deceit and criminality, which has put its claws into society's lifeline, sucking its blood, growing corpulent. Countless youths gave their lives to bring to society freedom and a new world. [...]

Their martyrdom was the result of an organized mass killing by a regime, which, after taking away people's right of free speech, right to dignified work, right of assembly, right of self-determination, right of clothing, and all their other rights in a most merciless fashion, is now taking away from them even the right to life. The resistance of the people and the youth does not fit within the framework of the rulers' calculations, and the continuation of this resistance and people's solidarity against the coup regime is shaking the rulers' palace of religious despotism.

The fortieth day memorial of the martyrdom of Neda and all those who were killed the same day by the bullets of the regime, so that freedom and resolve would not fall, is a new day in the fight to bury the dark night of this land forever. People have stood up, and each day with their protests and innovations, they enrich and deepen their movement.

Some, with their thinking and beliefs rooted in the circumstances prior to June 12, are still following the "pressure from below, haggling up above" solution. In this view, people's movement in the streets, in their workplaces and places of living will give a section of the rulers -- who, in this view are thought to be more with the people, and work for the good of all -- a more powerful backing, and in the lobbies of power in the halls of the parliament and the cabinets, cause them to be able to extract more concessions from the other group of rulers, who are openly and unambiguously the enemies of the people. In this view, people, by enduring the costs of building pressure on a despotic and merciless power from below, will enable the more moderates within this closed circle of rulers to impose petty reforms on the other faction, which is reliant on oppressive military forces.

In previous years and in smaller and weaker movements, this logic may have had some buyers, but in the days after June 12, any tendency that takes up this viewpoint will isolate itself and lose people's support.

Today, people have concluded that they shall not give any blank checks to any layer of the ruling politicians, any reformists and seekers of change [from above]. They want their own control over all [social] matters. The rule of a religious group such as the supreme leader, the Guardian Council, the Assembly of Experts, which are backed by military and economic institutions that have no accountability to the people, stands in direct opposition to the governance of the people over their own fate.

The only thing that can lead to an improvement of the people's real life conditions is a pressure from below leading to the taking of power from below and by the people. People want to determine their society's public laws themselves, and want to do so freely. They want all social institutions to be elected by the society and be accountable to them and under their oversight.

The existence of military institutions such as the Sepah and the Basij, which, in the hands of power thirsty groups, easily turn into instruments of killing people, are of no use for the people. The society wants to determine by itself which institutions are needed for its security and how those institutions work. A university president who has not been elected by the students, the professor and the university staff, but selected by powers beyond the society, easily and as it has happened, become collaborator with death squads killing the students.

Parliamentary representatives elected in a system other than one under people's control can come to reveal themselves, as they have these days, not as representing the people, but as functionaries and paid, rudderless hoodlums at the service of a coup regime of terror.

People want to create a new social system, in which in their places of work, in their places of living and in their cities, the methods of management and responsibilities are determined by the people and in realistic fashion, and in which the source of legitimacy and lawfulness is the people, not a group believing themselves to be religious scientists claiming to be god's replacement on earth. It is for these demands and with such outlook that the society has entered the arena of struggle with all they have, with all that the regime has left them with: their lives. If you take a good look at their determination, you will realize that they will achieve their goal.

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