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Opinion

Abdolkarim Soroush: The goals of Iran's Green Movement

A new manifesto outlines the aims of Iran's Green Movement, including a free press and the resignation of President Ahmadinejad.

January 6, 2010



Five major figures in Iran's reform movement issued a manifesto (reproduced below) Sunday, Jan. 3, calling for the resignation of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the abolition of clerical control of the voting system and candidate selection.

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Journalist Robin Wright interviewed for Global Viewpoint one of the signatories, reform-movement founder and scholar Abdolkarim Soroush, about the manifesto, which also calls for the recognition of law-abiding political, student, non-governmental and women’s groups; labor unions; freedom for all means of mass communication; and an independent judiciary, including popular election of the judicial chief.

The signatories, all Iranians living outside the country, also include dissident cleric Mohsen Kadivar; former parliamentarian and Islamic Guidance Minister Ataollah Mohajerani; investigative journalist Akbar Ganji; and Abdolali Bazargan, an Islamic thinker and son of a former prime minister.

Robin Wright, a former diplomatic correspondent for the Washington Post and author of four books on Iran since 1973, is now a senior fellow at the US Institute for Peace in Washington.

Q: Why did you decide to issue a manifesto now?

A: The Green Movement is into its seventh month now, and I and my friends have been following events very closely and have been in touch with some of our friends in Iran. After [the protests on] Ashura on Dec 27, we came to realize that it was a real turning point. It was at that time that the regime decided to crack down on the Green Movement. In one instance, the regime rolled over a protester and killed him. It was a very severe message to all the protesters and defenders and supporters of the Green Movement that it intends to crush the movement harshly.

On the other hand, we have also individually been frequently asked by our friends: What are the real demands of the Green Movement, because the Green Movement was something that jumped on the scene? There was no planning for it. The election was the beginning, and it just evolved and evolved. As it evolved, some demands had emerged, but there was nothing that showed what was in the minds of the leaders of the movement.

The five of us thought that because we are close enough to the leaders of the movement – Mir Hossein Mousavi, Mehdi Karroubi and Mohammad Khatami – and know their demands, we should start drafting a manifesto or statement about the Green Movement. So we started drafting, and then Mousavi’s statement [that he would die for the movement if necessary] was issued [on Jan. 1]. Since we are living outside the country, don’t have to fear [the government] and know what is in the mind of the people, we decided to publish our own statement to make clear what Mousavi’s intentions and goals of the Green Movement are.