Mir Hossein Mousavi today released a new statement denouncing the regime’s brutal tactics against the Green Movement and outlined peaceful measures the government can take to calm the situation. While the statement is quite similar to other statements he has released in the past, several points on closer inspection stand out. The statement also shows Mousavi’s resolve and his continued willingness to finding a peaceful resolution to the current crisis.
One of the most striking features of the speech is Mousavi omitting any mention of the killing of his nephew Sayyed Ali Mousavi in Tehran on Ashura (27 December). It echoes his response and that of his wife, Zahra Rahnavard, response to the imprisonment of her brother, Shahpour Kazemi, which they kept private or months because they did not want to let personal statements speak for the entire Green Movement.
Iran: A Gut Reaction to Mousavi’s “Martyrdom v. Compromise” Statement
Iran Document: Mousavi’s “5 Stages to Resolution” Statement (1 January)
The Latest from Iran (2 January): The Ripples of the Mousavi Statement
What is more important, however, is that Mousavi for the first time discounts his own influence and that of Mehdi Karroubi. He admits that even though people asked him to call for protests or at least lend his support, he did not do so in the case of Ashura. He also acknowledges the fact that people came out without his call.
The Green Movement has partially spiraled out of the hands of Karroubi and Mousavi. What this could achieve cannot be easily quantified or qualified, but it is important that the movement will continue even if Mousavi and Karroubi are no longer alive. Mousavi acknowledges this by saying that he is ready to die alongside other members of the movement, knowing that the opposition would not disappear.
Beyond this, there are three significant new points First off, Mousavi openly speaks out against the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps. It is no secret that the IRGC has been one of the driving forces behind the suppression of peaceful protesters and the main source of the power of the Supreme Leader and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. . Along the Basij – which falls under its command – they have been responsible for most of the bloodshed on the streets of Iran during protests.
Mousavi ridicules the IRGC, possibly sending a message to his supporters that they can now openly denounce the Revolutionary Guard as well as Basij. As he denounces corruption in his statement, Mousavi says, “We say that a large and influential organization like IRGC cannot defend the country and national interests if it wants to calculate everyday how much the stock market has gone up or down; it will corrupt both itself and the country.”
Secondly, Mousavi again questions the government’s legitimacy. In an earlier statement yesterday, presidential candidate Mohsen Rezaei denounced Ashura protests and forwarded the preposterous idea that Mousavi has somehow come to accept Ahmadinejad as Iran’s president. Despite this, and possibly responding to it, Mousavi continues to defy Ahmadinejad. Iranian state media’s propaganda regarding Rezaei’s letter --- that Mousavi has "retreated" and now acknowledges Government legiimtacy --- is promptly disqualified:
Assume that, with all the arrests, brutalities, threats, and shutting the mouths of newspapers and media, you can silence people for a few days. How do you solve the change in people’s view of the establishment? How do you rectify the lack of legitimacy? How do you change the stunned and blaming views of all people of the world over all this brutality of a government against its own people? What do you do with the problems of the country’s economy and living conditions that are getting worse because of extreme weakness of the administration? With what backing of expertise, national unity and effective foreign policy, can you alleviate the shadow of more UN resolutions and international attempts to win more points against our country and our nation?
Mousavi places the calls of pro-regime protesters and Friday Prayer leaders for the killing of Mousavi and Karroubi squarely upon the government:
I clearly and bluntly say that the order of execution, murder, or imprisonment of Karoubi, Mousavi and figures like us will not solve the problem. The announcements made this Wednesday in Enghelab Square (central Tehran) and before that during the last Friday prayer by some figures affiliated with the establishment will make the consequence of any terrorist act the direct liability of the center [of the establishment] and will make the problem of the current crisis unsolvable.
Thirdly, and perhaps most important, Mousavi acknowledges the opposition taking action against security forces during the demonstrations while putting the blame for violence against security forces on the government. He neither endorses these actions, nor asks for further actions in future protests; instead, he also notes that people were compassionate to security forces and tried to save them from angrier protesters.
The passage is significant because it indicates that Mousavi continues to wish for a peaceful political resolution and does not want the government to be violently overthrown:
Watching the shocking footage of Ashura shows that if sometimes slogans and actions moved toward unacceptable radicalism, it is because of throwing innocent people off bridges and heights, shooting them, running them over by cars and assassinations. It is interesting that in some of this footage, people were seeing their [religious] brothers behind the faces of the oppressive police and Basij forces, and in that critical situation and on that deafening and hateful day they were trying to protect them from any harm. If the state-run television and radio had the slightest bit of fairness,to calm the atmosphere and bring people closer together, it would have shown a little of these scenes. But no way! The progress of events after Ashura and the extent of arrests and other Government actions show that the authorities are repeating the same past mistakes this time in a greater scale and think that the policy of terror is their only solution.
Mousavi again calmly asks the government to take steps to resolve the current crisis. This might seem repetitive; however, it comes as no surprise. The Green Movement has repeatedly shown that they are open to talks and that they are not in favor of violence, unless it is required in self-defense and then only in extreme cases. Finally, the movement still hopes for a peaceful and non-violent resolution to the current conflict. Mousavi outlines these points in his five-point proposal:
1. The administration should be held liable in front of the people, the parliament and the judiciary system so that there would be no unusual supports for the administration in response to its incompetence and ineffectiveness and the administration be held accountable for all the problems it created for the country. For sure if the administration is competent and right it would be able to respond to the people and the parliament, and if it is incompetent and inept, the parliament and the judiciary system would confront it based on the constitution.
2. Legislating new and clear election laws in a way that it would regain people’s trust in the free and fair elections without meddling and interference. This law should ensure the participation of all the people despite their differences in opinions and views and should prohibit the biased and partisan interference of the authorities in all levels. The primary parties in early days of the revolution can be considered as a model.
3. The release of all political prisoners and restoring their dignity and honour. I am sure that this move would be interpreted as a strong point for the establishment rather than a weakness and we know that the defeated political movements are against this solution.
4. One of the necessities of the improvement is the release of the banned press and media and letting the shut down newspapers to publish again. The fear of free media should be eliminated and the international experience in this matter should be considered. The expansion of the satellite channels and their growing importance and the decisive influence of this media clearly show the inadequacy of the traditional methods and limitations of National TV and radio channels. Signal jamming methods and internet censorship can only be effective for a short time. The only solution is having various free and informed media inside the country. Isn’t it time to turn eyes back from beyond our borders to domestic political, cultural and social prosperity by a courageous act and based on trusting the intellectual and innovative forces of the society?
5. Recognizing people’s rights for having legal demonstrations and forming parties and groups and abiding to the 27th principle of the constitution. Acting in this matter that can be done with the wisdom and collaboration of all of the country’s enthusiasts can replace the battle between the Basij and security forces and people or people and people with an atmosphere of friendship and national affection.
After all is said and done, Mousavi’s statement can be seen as a watershed. After the bloody events of Ashura, many expected Mousavi to give some consideration to more violent means to change the political situation. In this statement, he could have at warned the government or, at least the IRGC or the Basij, of violent confrontations. Instead, he offered his own life instead of endorsing retaliation.
This is perhaps the last chance for the Government of Iran to act peacefully if it wants to resolve the current crisis. Tensions run high. Arrests are becoming rampant. Violence has increased. Mousavi and Karroubi no longer look as safe as they did a few months ago. In such a climate, Mousavi’s conciliatory statement is a breath of fresh air. Whether the government is going to make use of the time that is running out or not remains to be seen.