Speech Of Abdullah Mohtadi In The Conference On Democratic Movement Pitfalls And Potential, Rome, 29/06/2010
Ladies and gentlemen,
Let me begin my very brief speech by expressing my thanks to the UNPO and its secretary general Mr. Marino Busdachin, Congress of Nationalties for a Federal Iran and especially Mr. Naser Boladai, honourable members of the Italian Senate and the Chamber of deputies, and all the organizers of thismeeting.
The eruption of the huge mass demonstrations in Iran in protest to widespread vote rigging in the country’s tenth presidentioal elections a little bit more than a year ago, marked the beginning of a new era in Iran’s prolonged struggle for democracy.
This peaceful protest movement, widely dubbed as Green Movement, soon developed itself into a full democratic movement for change that challenged the whole political system. This was the most widespread, the most challenging, and the most eloquent democratic movement in the three decades of Islamic rule in Iran.
During this turbulant but fascinating year the Iranians suffered a lot, but also learned a lot and gained a lot. The young generation, in their millions, whose high hopes for peaceful change had been quickly dashed, now experienced the utmost brutality of this regime and found out how rigid and inflexible thepolitical system in their country was, as we, the older generation, had experienced in the previous decades. This was a polictical lesson learnt at a high price.
The movment turned out to be much more powerfull and resilient than what the supreme Leader and his men expected to be. The demonstrators seemed fearless in spite of all beatings, killings, arrests and torture.
At times, even the future of the whole sytem seemed to hang in the balance. Only execrcising utmostbrutality by the Revolutionary Guards and securtiy fores, coupled with massive progaganda work by the state media in a bid to create a rift between the more moderate elements of the leadership of the movement and the masses who were ready to go further, resulted in a downturn in the demonstrations and subsequently its end. Lack of a clear strategy for victory, hesitance and tactical mistakes by the leaders of the protest movement also played a role. Encouraged by the turn of events and regaining their shattered self-confidence, the authorities have been trying hard to impement even harsher punitive measures and to strengthen their grip on the society as a whole.
To summarize, one can say that the government has succeeded in retaking the control of the streets, but they have lost everything else including the last traces of people’s trust. The disillusionment with the whole system is huge and unrepairable. In the words of a famous Iranian singer, they have been able to control, but from now on they are unable to govern.
The democratic movment has had a setback, but it is far from having been defeated, let alone eliminated. In fact, the democratic movment is now much more deep-rooted, it has even spread into the rank and file of the government forces and into the more traditional sections of the society. It seems that the vast majority of the people are now for a structural change, for puting an end to the rule of the militarysecurity- financial-clerical complex that is now ruling Iran with thousands of iron fists.
The existing Iranian constitution does not have the capacity or the potential to become a vehicle of democratic change, it is imbued with medieval notions of the divine rule of the clergy, eternalising a certain branch of Islam, ie shi’a islam of the twelver school of thought, as its official religion, blocking any meaningful change through a labyrinth of bodies and mechanisms such as guardian counsil, expediency council, assembly of experts, with the unelected all-powerfull supreme leader at the top.
What we need is a new constitution based on universal democratic values and human rights and derived from the realities and diverse needs of Iranian society.
Separtation of the state and religion, which is gaining more and more ground inthe real movement, should be a vital ingredient to any future democratic constitution in Iran. Let’s not be fooled by the preaches of the so-called cultural relativism which in fact considers certain people immature and not deserving full demcoratic rights.
The idea of a non-centralist federal structure and puting an end to discriminatory laws and patterns of government, acknowledeging the ethnic, linguistic and religious diversity of our country as a source of richness and strength should also find its way in our new constitution. It is of course entirly up to the Iranian people to decide on the future of their county and whether or not they want a change in their political system, but let’s not make a taboo of the regime change in Iran, it has become an urgent necessity for Iran and also for the outside world more than ever.
What is lacking in our domestc front is a united democratic coalition, made up of new and old oppositon forces inside the country as well as abroad, with aclear and coherent strategy and abe to mobilse and organise mass civil movements in various forms. The recent highly successful general strike in Iranian Kurdistan in protest to the execution of young activists by the government, is an example of how close cooperation and a clear strategy can work.
Let me finish off by saying a few words on the sensitive issue of Iran’s nuclear programme. We Iranians must clearly and unambiguously condemn the Iran’s nuclear ambitiosns and distance ourselves from it. The Islamic regime’s nuclear programme is not, as some used to claim, a matter of national pride, on the contrary, it can only be a source of misery for Iranian people, and a new tool in the hands of dictators, tortures and state terrorists, putting our future securtiy, as well as the security of the whole region and the world, at great risk.
We all knew that change should come from within. Now that it has come, we rightfully expect the full support of the international community for the democratic change in Iran.
Thank you very much for your patience.