Translation of a lead article from the latest Khiaban newspaper (#84).
February 17, 2011
The new oppositional wave turned things upside down across Tehran [on February 14, 2011]. Even the fiercely predatory guards of the dictatorship could not stop people's will from taking to the public arena. Bringing down the dictatorship and starting the foundations of freedom has turned into the collective goal of the youth and the people who have had enough.
The February 14 protests, which occurred across a wide area of Tehran and in pockets, showed new capabilities and at the same time brought out certain necessities of the struggle. Of these important necessities, which have now clearly revealed themselves and seek a solution, are political organization and the tactical organization of the struggle against the ruling dictatorship.
Political Organization of the Movement
The movement in its current conditions is suffering severely from a lack of political organization. Although large numbers of people take to the streets, and by sacrificing in the utmost refuse to surrender the society to the rulers, the movement is still greatly without organization and without a political fabric [to give it coherence and strength]. What does 'political organization' mean? Let us clarify the discussion by use of some examples.
In Egypt, and in the main demonstrations in Tahrir Square, we were not merely witnessing a gathering of the masses of the people. On the contrary, when we were observing the masses of people gathering, we were seeing the [result of the prior] organization of the demonstrations by the youth. There were signs and placards there to declare people's demands and positions. This task of preparing signs and placards requires some level of political organization, in which a number of individuals plan to get such things together, decide on the slogans and demands, and then prepare the signs and the placards and bring them onto the street.
We also observed that loud speakers had been prepared [in Tahrir Sq.] and as organized and managed by the people there, certain individuals made speeches and retold people's grievances. Reading out statements, messages of solidarity, and issuing declarations are among other activities that require the political organization of the youth. Different groups participating in the protests must organize themselves in numerous small cells for exactly such moments [of opportunity to take to the streets], so as to be able to act effectively. All participating forces in the movement must have the right to organize themselves to participate and to speak up in organized fashion about their goals, demands and views.
Perhaps it is not possible to reach a high level of organization over night or over a short period of time, but we should be taking steps in that direction. Any group or even small number of people, and whoever is engaged in this struggle for liberation, must begin to organize themselves politically. This work can begin in any space. In a college or university, those youth wishing to change the status quo can form such cells. Consequently, in some sit-in by the students over the release of their imprisoned fellow students or any other matter, their particular demands could be expressed, resolutions reached collectively could be read out loud, etc.
If such organizational forms take shape, then we can move towards more collective and more connected and all-encompassing moves. For example, from the cooperation of such groups, we can get to coordinated efforts such as the 25 January revolutionary youth of Egypt, to express the demands and expectations of the youth and fight over those demands. The same idea can be adopted by the active groups who work in defense of women's rights, workers and ... In the absence of such political organizational forms, however, the struggle carried out by the people and the youth will continue, but their demands and goals will remain vague and unclear.
For example, we can, these very crucial days, organize ourselves in various spaces, around the following demands:
- Immediate release of the 1,500 detainees of the Feb. 14 protests, without any conditions, without any bail demands, and without any confiscation of any documents.
- Freedom for all political prisoners
- Immediate and urgent stopping of all violence against dissident citizens, whether in the form of torture, executions of political prisoners, or in the form of suppressing public gatherings of the people by the [Revolutionary] Guards [and Basij, etc.]
Tactical Organization in the Streets
Urban street struggle requires organizational effort. Without organized cells, the work of confronting the Gurads is extremely thorny. Several obstacles could be observed in [February 14] protests. First, if everybody goes to Enghelaab Square at a particular time one by one, pretending that they're just passersby on some business there or nearby, the possibilities for forming a rally are lowered. Why? Because the large masses of the Guards are standing there and you cannot stop [individually]. They tell you, "Move on!" and since everybody's pretending to be passersby, they move on, without the crowd being able to reach such numbers as to be able to shout some slogans and to start a demonstration. It is perhaps better to form smaller-numbered demonstrations in the side-streets, and then approach the main [gathering] spaces in organized masses. The simultaneous approach of many small demonstrations toward a common center, arriving at a designated place at the same time is far harder to control.
Or, another matter is confronting the motorcycle units [of the security forces]. Motorized units play an important role in attacking the people. In order to confront and de-mobilize them, some ways and means must be sought, and to an extent certain tools and material resources are needed.
In both these matters of importance, there is a need for self-organized coordinating cells. Even ten groups of five or six people organized in different cells provide an opportunity to organize, support and protect hundreds and even thousands, who would otherwise participate in the protests in individual capacity only and in an unorganized fashion.
Organizing is the most important weapon that enables ordinary people to overcome their enemies and adversaries. Organization must, however, always be accompanied with spreading of awareness. We must always be asking: Why are we struggling? What are we fighting for? What are those things we don't want, and those we do want? Up to this point, one thing is agreed by all: the foundations of the current situation are problematic. The dictatorship must be destroyed from its top [to the bottom].