Karroubi’s Comments on the Events of 22 Bahman (22 February 2010)

I deeply appreciate the huge turnout on the rally for the 22nd of Bahman[1] despite all the security pressure and the restrained political atmosphere. The ceremonies this year were held at a time when all political factions, prominent figures and grand Ayatollahs had invited people to participate in the hopes of moving toward a resolution to the current crisis. Nevertheless, the brutal totalitarian forces are using state-run television, as well as official and unofficial media outlets to hijack the rallies; to present them as a show of their own supporters while unethically ignoring the brutalities and violence that occurred on the sidelines as well as the extreme security measures that were in place that day, thus offering an impression completely opposite to what had actually happened. Those responsible for these brutalities want to use the rallies that would not have been possible without the widespread presence of the supporters of reformists and conservatives alike, to clear their record of [illegal] arrests, tortures, street killings and other crimes. They want to conceal their crimes, violence and cruelty with fallacies and misrepresentations. This year, the police and armed forces had turned the streets of Tehran into a military base during the 22 Bahman rally. They severely attacked and silenced anyone who showed the slightest sign of nonconformity. Interestingly enough, not a single scene showing the presence of all those forces, their assaults with teargas, or their beatings was reflected in the domestic media! It seems as if their eyes were covered with a veil of [their] wrongdoings. How else could they think that they have succeeded in erasing the people’s collective memory and totally appropriating this national and religious ceremony for their own benefit, so they can continue “depriving people of their most essential rights.” This is notwithstanding the fact that were it not for the invitations of various political groups as well as the people’s [active] participation, 22 Bahman would have turned out to be an unenthusiastic rally of armed and paramilitary forces. Moreover, they would have had no opportunity for this political exploitation.

We all know that your participation in the 22 Bahman rally was not in support of the repressive policies that have taken so many political prisoners but a demonstration of your love of Iran, the Islamic Revolution, and Imam Khomeini. You good people of Iran did not attend the rally celebrating the anniversary of the Islamic Revolution to swear allegiance to those who beat people. My pious countrymen – you know better than anyone that spilling the blood of the innocent is against your religion and your morals. Did Ali (may peace be upon him) fill his prisons to strengthen his government? You, who have created martyrs, [cannot be] satisfied with the secrecy surrounding the crimes committed in Kahrizak, Sobhan Complex, and university dormitories, nor with the disrespect shown to senior religious figures. Your attendance on 22 Bahman is not [proof] of support for such villainy. Regardless, those who have done their utmost to engineer the rally by utilizing hundreds of trains and buses to bring in supporters must explain why Azadi Square was so empty during the speech despite the use of so many resources and the engagement of police and armed forces. Is it possible to believe that intelligent people of Iran would not know the reason behind the presence of tens of thousands of police and armed forces? Do they think that people have been blind to the pressure being exerted by the police and plain-clothes officers who have used daggers, clubs, and pepper spray on the servants of Iran and the Islamic Republic to stop them from joining the crowd? Do they think that people have not noticed their fear and weakness?

Dear nation – your presence in the February 11 rallies is beyond analysis, unless it is examined from the perspective of the two currents running against eachanother. We have two political inclinations in our society. One is afraid of [granting] the right to gather in peaceful demonstrations and rallies according to Article 27 of the Constitution. This fear is [the root of] the motivation to turn Tehran into a military base on the day of national rallies. This [particular] group is the one that only tolerates [the presence of] its own supporters during demonstrations and sees the nation as a composite of various units, which are advocates and supporters of its own commands. It defines the remaining population (even if that remainder constitutes a majority) as “dirt and dust.” On the other end is the faction that recognizes your variety, your colorful range of beliefs, and refuses to favor one gender, class, culture or race. This is a group that not only motivates people to attend the rallies in Freedom Square, but also to sit together around the same table and share their freedom. As such, based on the teachings of Imam Khomeini, I have two suggestions to remove the veil of ignorance that has blinded the sight of the totalitarian current. First, I suggest just what Imam Khomeini had once requested: “The government should organize a meeting in Tehran in one of the big squares, and allow us to organize a meeting in the deserts near Qom.” I want to ask for a permit to organize a rally – based on Article 27 of the Constitution – in one of the Tehran squares so that we can see both the minority and the majority. We can provide security for the rally ourselves and guarantee that it will be conducted without any slogans directed at the regime. Once and for all, [we need] a demonstration free from threats and repression to demonstrate the weight of each group.

Secondly, while the [authorities] have turned the 22 Bahman rally into a referendum to endorse their violent and anti-public policies, I propose a [true] referendum based on Article 59 of the Constitution to solve this crisis and end the reign of the Guardian Council, which interferes with the rule of the people in the name of approbation supervision; it has even surpassed [its own definition of] this principle. These interventions inhibit a free presidential election as well as the formation of an independent Guardian Council and Parliament. In what sort of independent Parliament are members forced – out of fear of the Guardian Council – to sign every statement hostile to those who care for this country? Our experience of the 10th presidential election shows that only a referendum can free us from these difficulties. [Only] in the presence of [a truly] independent Parliament can   interests of the people guaranteed in the Constitution and their fundamental rights (such as freedom of the press, the right to fair trials, and so on) be preserved. It is such a Parliament, free from the rule of Guardian Council, which will clarify the weight of various political groups without having to spend millions of dollars on preparation and the fabrication of a [pro-government] atmosphere – the same atmosphere that we saw on the 22nd of Bahman this year.

[1] February 11, the anniversary of the revolution.

Speaker or Agency: Mehdi Karroubi

Title: Karroubi’s statement regarding the events of 22 Bahman

Language: Persian, English

Western Date: 22 February 2010

Persian Date: 3 Esfand 1388

Physical/Electronic Location: http://www.sahamnews.org/?p=933, http://khordaad88.com/?p=1250#more-1250

Citation or official document code

Translator: Khordad88

Date Translated: 23 February 2010

Tags: mehdi karroubi, statement, 22 bahman, anniversary, revolution, referendum

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