Stop Conflicts Within the Reformist Camp
Presidential election in Iran will be held in less than two weeks and People are going to elect the next president of Iran; although the election is not free and fair.
What should our priorities be and what approach should we take?
1. Human resources are the driving force behind social movements; acknowledging them and harnessing their potential in a timely manner advances these movements toward their goals. The Reform Movement is no exception to this rule. This writer believes that Mr. Mousavi and Mr. Karrubi are two valuable assets with great potential for promoting the agenda and goals of the Reform Movement, and therefore they should be backed and supported by progressive and reformist forces. Because they have sensed the dangers that threaten the country, they have exposed themselves to public scrutiny and entered the election fray. Thus, as things stand now, the first priority is to seize the opportunity to remove Ahmadinejad from the presidency by voting in favor of one of the two valuable human assets of the Reform Movement.
Although voters are entitled to shape the political future of their country according to their own needs, interests, and knowledge, one should not forget that saving the country from large scale destruction takes priority over personal, group, ethnic, and party demands and needs. A look at certain features of the Ahmadinejad Administration, as well as an understanding of the consequences of his presidency, should dispel any reservations one may have about taking part in the election stagflation.
A weak hand out economy, stagflation, intensely high rate of unemployment, the failure to create jobs (particularly for the youth), and misguided cultural policies coupled with the propagation of superstitious beliefs, absence of freedom of thought, expansion of security assumption over the entire political and cultural domains of the country, detainment and threats against civil society activists, an increase in the number of political prisoners along with organized and extensive violations of human rights, increased social abnormalities including a growing rate of imprisonments, dissolution of policy making and planning organizations, aggressive and tension-causing foreign policy, and the three economic sanction resolutions by the UN Security Council, all constitute the most important features and achievements of the police state of Ahmadinejad and his supporters.
Four years ago, during the electoral campaign of Dr. Mo'in, I warned that, "The footsteps of the military can be heard." We have all experienced the consequences of militarization of policy makers/militarizing political, cultural, and economical sphere. Today, I am worried again because a continuation of the domestic and foreign policies of the present administration could place the country on the verge of another war. So it is our collective responsibility to send the militants back to its military bases where it belongs and save the country from large scale of destruction.
2. I believe that boycotting the election is in favor of Ahmadinejad and his totalitarian supporters. At this juncture we have no option but to stand up and support one of the reformist candidates. Concern over election-rigging in favor of the totalitarian candidate is a serious problem, of which we should take note. Maximum participation is the only way to prevent election officials and observers from rigging the election. Therefore, by taking part in the election and voting for one of the reformist candidates, we will prepare the present grounds for change. Today, we Iranians can play an influential role in redirecting the present path, and this is a duty for which we are responsible.
The elections aren’t free and fair, nor do the candidates represent the whole spectrum of public views. To prepare the grounds for a free and fair election, we require a stronger, more influential presence in the political arena of the country. Adopting passive policies, such as boycotting elections, leaves the arena of competition open to a force that does not have the slightest belief in political participation, that does not care about the votes of the people, and that tries to saddle the society with its policies by resorting to heavy-handed, arbitrary methods. Widespread participation, bringing to power the candidates of the Reform Movement, and constantly questioning them can pave the way for change and transformation.
3. The powers of the president in the present legal system of the country are far too limited, however, by establishing the rule of wisdom and by participatory work through restoring decision-making and policy-making institutions, the president can transform many of the present dangers into opportunities for the development and construction of our Iran. Insufficiency of the powers of the president is not a good justification for adopting a passive stance in elections. Comparing the performance of the reform administration with that of the conservative administration shows how influential the political and behavioral make-up of the president and his ministers can be on governing the country and people's lives. Therefore, by taking part in the election we must decide the political fate of our country.
4. Change is on the way if voters want change. By reducing all the candidates to one type, many people try to relieve themselves of their responsibility to vote. In reality, the reformist and totalitarian candidates are very different. The programs introduced by the two reformist candidates can make the atmosphere conducive for considerable changes on domestic and international levels. Policies that can release tension, encourage international joint efforts, and a sensible and logical solution to the nuclear crisis, all the while preserving national interests, can lead to a lift of economic sanctions against the country, particularly sanctions in the energy section, and with the removal of these energy sanctions come opportunities to create jobs and an expansion of the petro-chemical, natural gas, and oil industries. Raising the rate of job creation requires fundamental changes in the domestic and international policies and this important issue can be clearly seen in the reformist candidates' programs. No doubt, adopting policies that release tension and attract foreign investments will result in considerable acceleration of the rate of job creation.
On the domestic policy, both reformist candidates seriously stress protecting human rights and implementing the third chapter of the Constitution on political rights, which will be conducive to thriving social, political, and cultural activities. Another important result of changing the administration is the elimination of security suspicious towards the political and cultural domains of the country and eliminating attitudes that include the consideration of civil society as a national threat. Unfortunately, the heavy security and militarized attitude by the Ahmadinejad Administration has not only failed to increase the level of national security, but has also exposed the country to a great danger. The elimination of such an attitude, and the appointment of competent and educated forces that are aware of security issues, will facilitate socio-political participation by people of all races, religions, and ethnicities, while providing for national security.
5. The urgency of serious participation in the election to remove the present administration from power does not exempt the reformist candidates from being accountable. Having been present for thirty years in the decision-making circle of the Islamic regime, both Mr. Mousavi and Mr. Karrubi must be accountable for their own performance, management, and their relationship with other ruling institutions of power. Now is the time to ask questions and hear their answers. Just because the government branches are independent from one another and because they have been the head, or a high-ranking executive, of a branch does not mean they can evade accountability. At the very least, they must be able to state how they have declared their objection to, or approval of, political issues and social crises.
It is natural that voters will make their choice based on their evaluation of a candidate's past record and his programs. Therefore, the more that civil institutions, journals, and inquisitive young activists pose important questions and probe into the past, present, and future, the more they can make it possible for people to make a better informed choice. However, the important point here is that posing these questions and inclining more towards one candidate rather than another should not mean disrespecting the other candidates. Elections will be over all too soon; either in the first round on June 12, or, at the latest, in the second round run-off vote. This exciting story will come to a close, but what remains is the question of how we have preserved our social asset. Now, when the country is in such a dire situation that we need the combined assets of all the social forces, including progressives and conservatives, how can we afford to allow ourselves to stoop to unethical matters only to increase the number of votes for a candidate?
One day at the Khaaje Nasir University, I undertook the defense of Mr. Mehdi Karrubi and the importance of his role in the Majles for the protection of human rights. In response, I was jeered by a number of students. I knew that day that the students' jeers were indicative of the wide chasm between their demands and expectations and the performance of the Majles and the regime's potential, but I was not able to explain to them that we have just set out on the path of consolidating human rights and institutionalizing democracy and that we need to tolerate many hardships on this path to protect our assets. No doubt, some of the students who jeered me yesterday for acknowledging Mehdi Karrubi are today working for his election campaign. The tyranny of the time forces us to collect experiences and remain patient. No matter what role we have in the elections today, we should not forget that our common goal is democracy and human rights, and that to achieve this, we need to employ all our might, capacity, and talent and that this might and capacity are not unlimited, so we cannot afford to waste any part of it. We are swimming against a current that considers power as exclusively its own and does not hesitate to use it against social forces in a fascist-like manner; unity is the only tool we have to strengthen our forces in this unequal contest. Now is not the time for internal and intra-party competition; today we should attempt to remove the reactionary and anti-freedom administration from power.
6. To date, the election campaign offices of both reformist candidates, as well as many independent social and political figures, have given the necessary warnings against the possibility of the presidential elections being rigged, and have even set up a committee to protect votes. This committee has also had timely correspondence with election officials and election observers. Now, this question should be asked of the two presidential candidates: what will they do if, despite all these warnings and precautions, people's votes are ignored and ballots are read or annulled in favor of the current president? Are they prepared to invite people to stage a huge rally in front of the Ministry of the Interior and to refuse to end the sit-in until the real results of the votes cast by them is announced? We must not allow that day to come upon us without preparation and only then start weighing the pros and cons and making decisions. The candidates should plan for that eventuality and have a response at the ready when it happens. On that day, the candidates will not be able to protect people's votes, therefore people should protect their votes themselves and candidates should invite people to the arena. Let's hope that people will rule out any possibility of rigging the ballot boxes through maximum participation but the candidates should also be mindful of their own responsibility so that if need be, they can, with the help of the people, bring the rightful president to office