Ardeshir Amir Arjomand, a senior advisor to Mir Hossein Mousavi and spokesperson for the Coordinating Committee of the Green Path of Hope spoke at a question-and-answer session at MIT University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on Friday.
The Goals of the Green Movement
While emphasizing the peaceful nature of the Green movement, Ardeshir Amir Arjomand stated that the goal of the movement is to continue peaceful resistance with an emphasis on human rights. Amir Arjomand reiterated that even though the ruling government seeks to radicalize and suppress the movement through violent acts such torture, rape, and repeated violations of human rights, it is vital that we remain true to the nonviolent nature of the Green Movement.
To this end, Amir Arjomand emphasized that we must effectively use the innovation of youth, stating: "Our youth analyze our movement better than I do and their creativity and talent is a great source of pride. We must utilize a variety of tactics and not fear trying out new tactics, taking advantage of the new climate created by the ruling government. We believe that a stable democracy will only be achieved through non-violent resistance and as such we have no other choice but to succeed. "
While emphasizing the importance of social networks, Amir Arjomand stated:
No regime is sustainable without the support of a significant portion of the population. We must create awareness amongst a large segment of our society. We must establish social networks designed to foster the exchange of ideas and open discussions. This phenomenon has occurred in many other countries as well. Firstly, we must mobilize public opinion. Secondly, we must specify the people's demands and lastly force the opposing group [ruling government] to suffer setbacks.
Our strategy should be to weaken their position and reduce their resources particularly their armed forces. We are witnessing the delegitimization of this government. We must look into new methods of resistance such as sit-ins and strikes. The inefficiencies of the ruling government are gradually emerging and today we are witnessing the confessions by some within the government regarding these inefficiencies.
The Definition of Democracy
We define democracy as the rule of the majority while guaranteeing the rights of the minority and support for human rights.The classic and common view encompasses the separation of religion and state.Our goal is to establish democracy in a specific context as we are dealing with a distinct population.Even if we assume that the "prerequisite for any positive event in our country is the complete separation of religion and state", under the current [socio-political] climate it is not very realistic.
Is the Constitution of the Islamic Republic Democratic?
When asked whether the existing Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran is democratic, Amir Arjomand responded:
If you ask me as an expert whether the existing Constitution in Iran is completely democratic, my answer is that it is not. What the Green Movement says , however, is that our movement is within the framework of the Constitution. The Coordination Council for the Green Path of Hope has never claimed that the current Constitution is fully democratic or that everyone must believe in it. We must remember however, that the current Constitution was voted on and ratified by the people of Iran.
The Coordination Council's desire is that the democratic elements of the current Constitution, such as the elements addressing the rights of our citizens, be implemented in order to pave the road for achieving democracy. We must work on creating an environment in which everyone can collaborate on amending the Constitution. Unfortunately currently the conditions do not exist. Political activists must be cognizant of the conditions in Iran and what is currently possible and what can be achieved in the future. When the conditions are right the Constitution should and will be amended. The Green movement is pluralistic and it is our duty to define our common goals and demands.
Mousavi and the Mass Executions in the 80s
I have repeatedly responded to questions regarding the executions that took place in 1988, for it is not an issue one should avoid.After the Islamic Revolution, a number of violent events took place, none of which can or should be justified. Our criticism however, should not be limited to the executions that took place in 1988. We must also take into consideration and also be critical of the events that preceded and followed these executions; our criticism should include all human rights violations.
Though Mir Hossein Mousavi was prime minister during the aforementioned period, he was neither part of the judiciary. According to Mousavi's own statements, at the time, he was unaware of these events and even when he found out, he asked that an investigation committed be formed to look into the events. In and of itself, however, this request does not suffice.
I asked Mr.Mousavi directly why he did not resign once he became aware of these events. Apparently, although he had resigned, he was still actively working. I told Mr.Mousavi that his response was not adequate and that he would need to provide a more precise and clear explanation of the events. It goes without saying that at a more opportune moment, Mr.Mousavi should and will speak in more detail about the events that took place in the 80s.
Clearly as a nation, we have come to the realization that we must be open to criticism. However, all criticism must be just and fair and made taking into consideration the political and social climate of the time. A revolution took place with both positive and negative aspects. It goes without saying that we must critique our past and everyone should participate in this important national dialogue. Let us also be reminded that many of those who today demand answers to the events that took place in the 80s, are themselves part of the violence and as such must also be open to criticism.
Perhaps the events that took place after the rigged elections two years ago opened the eyes of our nation, forcing us to confront the facts on events we fled from in the past. A nation can never move towards peace and national reconciliation unless past mistakes are accepted and corrected.
The Role of the Iranian Diaspora
With regards to what role the Iranian diaspora should play in promoting the Green movement, Mir Hossein Mousavi's senior adviser said:
There are many ways in which the Iranian diaspora can help in the further development of the movement. First and foremost they must seek to fully understand the conditions inside Iran and have the will to stand with the people inside Iran. There is an entire nation inside Iran that needs our support. The most important role the diaspora can play is to understand the conditions of the people inside Iran and make sure that the actual demands of our people are heard across the globe. Given the highly oppressive nature of the government of Iran, another way the diaspora can help is to facilitate the free flow of information within the country.