Mir Hossein Mousavi’s 17th statement can be considered his most influential in the seven months since the green movement was born. After its release, prominent political figures, groups, and organizations in Iran reviewed and evaluated its content from their own angles and highlighted various aspects of it.
The signatories of this statement — who desire structural democratic change; defend the rights of all citizens regardless of faith, ideals, ideology, ethnicity, or gender; and promote, especially, the separation of religion and state — believe that Mousavi’s 17th statement provides essential proposals. A broad consensus on these proposals can facilitate unity and coordination within the non-violent movement of the Iranian people and, more than before, isolate the aggressive ruling autocrats. We believe that:
- The 17th statement is very much timely, and it can — at least temporarily — create a division in the power bloc and delay their project of instigating violence.
- With this statement, Mousavi has yet again underlined his commitment to the people of Iran and their pluralistic movement, as well as his support for democratic change.
- Mousavi avoided abstract and general topics in this statement, presenting instead a minimalist political platform with clear demands.
- While prioritizing the pluralistic movement of the Iranian people, Mousavi has also shown that he is ready to negotiate with the establishment in order to advance the movement’s demands. His indirect reference to the “legal” dismissal of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad through a parliamentary vote can be taken as a symbol of his democratic inclination. In a recent statement, Mehdi Karoubi has also stressed the necessity of avoiding violence and abiding by non-violent methods. We, too, believe that democracy requires institutionalizing non-violent methods in order to restrain and manage political conflict as well as expanding political participation of citizens. Experience has shown that political negotiation is one of the effective methods on the bumpy road of peaceful transition to democracy.
- The most noteworthy aspects of Mousavi’s statement are the four clauses related to “free elections” and the preconditions for holding them: the release of political prisoners; freedom of the media and the press; and emphasis on the right to form parties and hold assemblies. Since the June elections, these demands have been repeatedly raised by supporters of pluralism and democracy. We hope that Mir Hossein Mousavi’s proposal of these historic demands will create a context for their broader public recognition and help extend cooperation between various forces within the green movement, for instance between Muslim Reformists and secular democrats.
Mir Hossein Mousavi’s acceptance of the “free election” strategy as the most acceptable and least costly option for the transition to a democratic system indicates that his intellectual flexibility has increased and his political viewpoint has broadened in the course of recent events. Since the presidential elections, Mehdi Karoubi has also played an undeniable role in expressing and spreading democratic demands; especially, he has strengthened the Iranian people’s protest movement with his courage and persistence.
We support the essence of Mousavi’s statement, which provides a minimalist program appropriate for the current stage. We also believe that the Iranian people’s social-political movement will adopt a broad democratic program in the not-so-distant future: a program that surpasses existing limitations and embraces the civil rights of each and every member of the Iranian nation, regardless of gender and ethnicity.
Ervand Abrahamian, Dariush Ashouri, Janet Afary, Touraj Atabaki, Kaveh Ehsani, Arjang Assad, Mohammad Eghtedari, Mehran Barati, Mehrzad Boroujerdi, Ali Banuazizi, Maziar Behrooz, Hooman Beigi, Asef Bayat, Misagh Parsa, Kamran Talattof, Nayereh Tohidi, Mohamad Tavakoli-Targhi, Ramin Jahanbegloo, Fatemeh Haghighatjoo, Bijan Hekmat, Mehdi Khanbaba Tehrani, Farhad Khosrokhavar, Fariba Davoudi Mohajer, Hamid Dabashi, Touraj Daryaee, Ali Rakei, Nasrin Rahimieh, Ebrahim Soltani, Reza Siavashi, Hasan Shariatmadari, Ahmad Sadri, Hossein Ziai, Kazem Alamdari, Mehdi Fatapour, Mansour Farhang, Mehrangiz Kar, Farhad Kazemi, Ahmad Karimi Hakkak, Hossein Kamali, Azadeh Kian, Amir Hossein GanjBakhsh, Afshin Matin-Asgari, Mehrdad Mashayekhi, Mansoor Moaddel, Valentine Moghadam, Ali Akbar Mahdi, Ziba Mir-Hosseini, Ali Mirsepassi, Abbas Milani, Farzaneh Milani, Arash Naraghi, Farzin Vahdat, Nader Hashemi, Hasan Yousefi Eshkevari
The original statement in Persian, published on 13 January 2010, may be found at <asre-nou.net/php/view.php?objnr=7774>, <news.gooya.com/politics/archives/2010/01/099014.php>, and <agh-bahman.blogspot.com/2010/01/blog-post_13.html> among other sites.