Waiting for the Green manifesto

Robin Wright in the LA Times reports on three statements from the reform movement, which outline some demands regarding the presidency, the treatment of the political opposition, and major structural changes for the Iranian Republic [h/t, normblog]:

The boldest statement was issued Sunday by five exiled religious intellectuals who founded diverse parts of the reform movement in the 1990s. Many of today’s opposition activists are their progeny as students, colleagues, political allies and friends.

Their 10-point manifesto begins by calling for the resignation of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose reelection in June sparked an outpouring of public rage over alleged fraud. It calls for the abolishment of clerical control of the voting system and candidate selection, replacing it with an independent voting commission that includes the opposition and protesters. The authors also demand the release of all political prisoners and recognition of law-abiding political, student, nongovernmental and women’s groups as well as labor unions. They call for an independent judiciary, including popular election of the judicial chief, and freedom for all means of mass communication. They even demand term limits for elected officials.

The five authors include philosopher Abdulkarim Soroush, the father of the reform movement; dissident cleric Mohsen Kadivar; former parliamentarian and Islamic Guidance Minister Ataollah Mohajerani; investigative journalist Akbar Ganji, who was imprisoned for six years for reporting on regime corruption; and Abdolali Bazargan, an Islamic thinker and son of a former prime minister.

They issued the manifesto on a website run by Kadivar and Mohajerani to mark the green movement’s growing maturity, Soroush explained in an interview Monday. “The green movement is known only for its demonstrations and protests, not its ideas, so it was time to explain its political demands,” he said.

The manifesto also carries a message to the green movement’s widely diverse followers. “Some people expected the green movement to do miracles, to do the impossible. We wanted to make it clear that it’s a democratic movement, and if it has a godfather, it is Gandhi,” Soroush said. “We are insisting adamantly that democratic, nonviolent change is at the heart of this movement. That will minimize the violence from the other side, which is ready to engage in any kind of violence.”

All five of the manifesto’s exiled authors, most of them titans of Iran’s 1979 revolution and major figures in earlier governments, remain connected to the opposition at home.

Like Hooman Majd [h/t elilake’s twitter] — whom the Dish praised for being “brutal on the solipsism and cynicism of the neocons” — these five men seem to think it’s more realistic to see the Green movement become a civil rights struggle instead of a risky counter-revolution.

I’m still hoping for “miracles” — a quick end to a suffocating tyranny and the averting of an Israeli strike — but not so solipsistic (or cynical) to depend on on a counter-revolution, at least one that decisively ousts the hard-liners from seats of influence over the state. Lebanon hasn’t achieved that with Hezbollah. Pakistan, which elected a female PM, hasn’t achieved that with their pro-jihadists.

The Christian Science Monitor has an English text of the Manifesto by Five along with an interview with Mr. Soroush himself. Here’s one part:

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.

But will a change in the atmosphere be enough to allow The Dish’s new geopolitical strategies to work? Besides that, on the Left (and elsewhere), there’s our idealism to worry about, and an ideological score about democracy promotion to settle with the neocons, you know.

Enough razzing. If I can paraphrase, Mr. Soroush: Know hope, but just remember not to rely on something to happen the way you want.

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