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Musavi Says Green Movement Charter In The Works

Musavi is seeking to preserve the momentum of his supporters' movement in the wake of the contested elections.
Musavi is seeking to preserve the momentum of his supporters' movement in the wake of the contested elections.
Iranian opposition leader Mir Hossein Musavi has said he is working on the charter of a new political front that would lay the groundwork for a large-scale social movement.

The charter, which Musavi has said will be issued in the coming days, is seen as a potential means of building on the unity exhibited by those protesting the results of Iran's June 12 presidential election.

Musavi, who's been described by some as the "accidental leader" of the Green opposition movement, says the charter of his new political front seek to realize the "neglected potential" of the Iranian Constitution.

Musavi provided few details, but during a July 23 meeting with members of the media he indicated the charter would go beyond his reported intention to form a group or front. He said it will aim to be a unifying foundation for those who have joined the Green movement.

"We are looking for a slogan that would increase people's adherence and connection and would be used by people," his website quoted him as saying.

The Green movement was born after hundreds of thousands of supporters of Musavi and fellow reformist presidential candidate Mehdi Karrubi took to the streets to protest the results of the June 12 election, which handed President Mahmud Ahmadinejad a landslide victory.

The major demonstrations in Tehran were met with a brutal crackdown by the Iranian regime that shook the capital and resonated throughout the country. When the dust settled, more than 20 people had been killed and more than 2,000 jailed.

Keeping The Movement United

While Tehran is relatively quiet six weeks after the vote, the crisis is far from over. There is a growing rift within the establishment, and reformists are increasingly questioning the legitimacy of the new government.

Mehdi Mozaffari, a professor of political science at Aarhus University, said a charter could be the first step in keeping the movement united.

“It's a first step but we still have to wait and see what's in the charter,” Mozaffari said. “I think he means that people should stay united. He believes that the forces should be brought together [and] the charter is a way to prevent people from being dispersed.”

Many people who believe the election was stolen have taken up the slogan "Where is my vote?" as a rallying cry. Residents of Tehran and elsewhere are continuing to chant "Allah Akbar" from their rooftops under cover of night, and scattered protests continue.

In one recent action, dozens of protesters made clear that their anger has not gone away, chanting “Death to the Dictator” as they rallied on July 22 in Tehran's Apadana neighborhood.

Citizens who have been protesting against the reelection of President Ahmadinejad have received the backing of a number of clerics and senior officials of the Islamic establishment.

On July 17, influential former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani said that a significant number of Iranians have lost their trust in the establishment as the result of the June vote.

His comments were seen as giving a boost to the Green movement. A few days later another former president, reformist Mohammad Khatami, called for a referendum on the legitimacy of the government.

That has become one of the key demands of the Green movement, along with the release of political prisoners and freedom of expression and media.

Taghi Rahmani, a Tehran based national political activist, said that people are serious about their demands.

"This is a new phase in the civil life of the people of Iran,” Rahmani said. “If it is managed intelligently and if political leaders strengthen the civil society instead of trying to get political concessions, then I think Iran could enter a [new] phase in its demand for democracy."

‘An Awakened Nation’

Professor Abbas Milani, the director of the Iranian studies program at Stanford University, believes Musavi, Karrubi, and Khatami have each played an important role in leading the movement.

But he says the movement and its leaders now face what he describes as a "triangle of repression," made up of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei and President Ahmadinejad, the powerful Revolutionary Guards, and hard-line clerics including Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi.

However, he notes that Khamenei has been repeatedly challenged during the current crisis.

"The days like those before the fake election, where he could make a ruling and his ruling was the last word, are over,” Milani said. “Now he keeps issuing orders, but [now] it's not the ultimate word, and even also a significant number of clerics stand against him."

Earlier this week Musavi was quoted as saying, in comments apparently directed at Khamenei, "You are facing something new: an awakened nation, a nation that has been born again and is here to defend its achievements."

So far neither of the two sides appears to be willing to back down. Musavi said on July 22 that it is necessary to continue to bring up the recent election and to keep the issue alive. He said no one should forget how the current government was formed.

Prominent reformist cleric Hassan Yousefi Eshkevari predicts tense days ahead for Iran and the Green movement.

"To some extent the future depends on Ahmadinejad and his government, and whether he will deal with this movement with reason and wisdom. In the case [of the latter] there could be less tension,” Eshkevari said. “Or, he could act as he's been doing in the past four years and move unilaterally and ignore people, reformists, and not pay attention to critics in the conservative camp or clerics who express criticism. In that case the crisis will intensify."

Eshkevari told Radio Farda he hopes the tensions will ultimately lead to the realization of people's demands.

Musavi has said that the only way out of the current crisis is to take the demands of the people into account.

Radio Farda broadcaster Elahe Ravanshad and Mazyar Mokfi contributed to this report.
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    Golnaz Esfandiari

    Golnaz Esfandiari is managing editor of RFE/RL's Radio Farda, which breaks through government censorship to deliver accurate news and provide a platform for informed discussion and debate to audiences in Iran. She has reported from Afghanistan and Haiti and is one of the authors of The Farda Briefing newsletter. Her work has been cited by The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and other major publications. Born and raised in Tehran, she is fluent in Persian, French, English, and Czech.

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