Sunday, July 26, 2009

Where should the Iranian left stand?

It is now clearer than ever that the opposition movement in Iran has two heads. One is the official loyal opposition within the regime, the reformists, and the other is the opposition movement of the people on the streets, which has its own diversity of lines of thinking.

The opposition movement among the people is clearly more radical and is determined to go much farther than the Mousavi-Khatami-Karroubi faction and their cohorts will ever, EVER be willing to go. In all this, we must not forget that Rafsanjani is a third column within the regime, and has his own agenda.

The loyal opposition has made it clear that for them it is all about the 'elections', and they dare not mention the fact that a majority of the Iranian people want nothing short of a replacement of theocracy with something more humane and more democratic.

For the people, the 'elections' were merely an excuse to take to the streets, both before and after the voting day, which, to their shock, turned out to have been an elaborate final stage of an electoral coup.

* * *

In the meantime, in order to give some clarity to the objectives of the movement, and in order to delineate those demarcation lines that would help prevent a repeat of the fate of the 1978 revolution -- during which the Islamists succeeded in keeping people's demands vague, under such slogans as, 'Everybody together!' (Hameh baa ham!), and were thusly able to hijack the revolution after the Shah's overthrow -- it is necessary to raise some minimum demands that clarify where the left must stand, and to help differentiate various segments of this movement in relation to the overall demands of the movement. To clarify the left's position does not mean abandoning unity of action. But, unity of action based on vague and undifferentiated demands can only lead to another disaster and the hijacking of this movement by one of the factions of the regime.

So, here are some demands that should be raised loudly, for the current movement to have realistic chances of success in bringing a degree of social justice to Iran:

* Immediate and unconditional abolition of executions and of death penalty
* Immediate abolition of torture and the freeing of all political prisoners
* Immediate access of international human rights organizations to political prisoners
* Freedom to strike
* Abolition of theocracy
* Unconditional freedom of expression, thought and clothing
* Freedom of the press and access to media by all
* Freedom of assembly and political organizations and parties
* Establishment of a Constituent Assembly after an appropriate period of discussion among the people (at least 9 months to a year)
* Equality of all the rights of all the people
* Separation of state from religion and ideology
* Establishment of a minimum wage
* Limiting of the ratio between the maximum income and minimum wages
* The right to employment for all adults seeking work
* Social security and medical insurance for all
* Housing for all
* The right and opportunity to education for all
* The right to bilingual elementary education where applicable (in minority communities)
* Use of oil revenues to furnish the costs for the above, and until such time that the national economy has been rebuilt based on internal needs and has become independent of oil and gas revenues
* Establishment of principle of autonomy in running the local affairs of minority communities (Kurds, Turkmen, Baluchi's, Arabs, Azeri's)
* Establishment of local and national councils (city councils, homemakers' councils, workers' and peasants' councils, trade councils, etc.) for:
- Participation in the writing of a new constitution
- Management of local affairs
* Reduction of workweek to 32 hours
* Childcare centers near work places
* Abolition of the use of military or paramilitary forces against the people
* Abolition of forced marriage, and Siqeh (temporary marriage)
* Abolition of physical or mental punishment at home, school and the society at large
* Urgent action to clean up and protect the environment

More can be added to this list, of course; but the important point is to clarify what the Iranian left must stand for. Let us hope that this movement for fundamental change will not be derailed and hijacked once again by the people living upstairs.


Bahram said...

So there are so many internal/external forces for de-railment of this revolution one more time.

Time is of the outmost importance and unification of all parties & masses for a "Free Iran" under an umbrella and trusted leadership is the ONLY way of preserving a viable, real revolutionary movement...

The principals & pillars mentioned in the article sound very mardomi and realistic to any progressive replacement to the Zahakan's regime. How do we move this forward before any further derailment??

A general referendum utilizing Internet and its digital social networking tools? How do you reach the lower echelons of the society and get them on board?? Their participation will seal the overthrow of this regime, but more idealistic short term...

Left, right, middle, Shahi, MojAhed, Sabz, Ghermez, Zard, we need to learn tolerance... We need basic respects for everyone's ideas and ideals and unite under same pricipals...

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE... This is the only chance before another decade or two of derailment!

RFS said...

Thank you Bahram for your comment!

Yes, you are right. Unity of action is the most important thing. Equally important is for ALL the forces present in the movement to be very clear where they stand. True tolerance means we do not forget where EACH stands at the same time that we act together to achieve common goals.

We have already paid a huge price (30 years of a suffocating dictatorship of the religious kind) for our lack of clarity of where different forces stood in the 1977-78 revolutionary movement. That is why Khomeini's people could steal the revolution so easily. We should not commit the same mistake.

Thank you again!