Question& Answer on the Iran Crisis
By StephenR. Shalom, Thomas Harrison, Joanne Landy and Jesse Lemisch
Campaignfor Peace and Democracy
Right after the June 12 elections in Iran, the Campaignfor Peace and Democracy issued a statement ( http://www.cpdweb.org/statements/1013/stmt.shtml)expressing our strong support for the masses of Iranians protesting electoralfraud and our horror at the ferocious response of the government. Our statementconcluded: “We express our deep concern for their well-being in the faceof brutal repression and our fervent wishes for the strengthening and deepeningof the movement for justice and democracy in Iran.” Since the elections,some on the left, and others as well, have questioned the legitimacy of and theneed for solidarity with the anti-Ahmadinejad movement. The Campaign’s positionof solidarity with the Iranian protesters has not changed, but we think thosequestions need to be squarely addressed.
Below are the questions we take up. Questions three,four and five deal with the issue of electoral fraud; readers who are notinterested in this rather technical discussion are invited to go on to questionsix. And we should say at the outset that our support for the protest movementis not determined by the technicalities of electoral manipulation, as importantas they are. What is decisive is that huge masses of Iranians are convincedthat the election was rigged and that they went into the streets, at greatpersonal risk, to demand democracy and an end to theocratic repression.
1. Was the June 12,2009 election fair?
2. Isn’t it true thatthe Guardian Council is indirectly elected by the Iranian people?
3. Was there fraud, andwas it on a scale to alter the outcome?
4. Didn’t a pollconducted by U.S.-based organizations conclude that Ahmadinejad won theelection?
5. Didn’t Ahmadinejadget lots of votes from conservative religious Iranians among the ruralpopulation and the urban poor? Might not these votes have been enough tooverwhelm his opponents?
6. Hasn’t the U.S. (andIsrael) been interfering in Iran and promoting regime change, including bymeans of supporting all sorts of “pro-democracy” groups?
7. Has the Westernmedia been biased against the Iranian government?
8. Is Mousavi aleftist? A neoliberal? What is the relation between Mousavi and thedemonstrators in the streets?
9. Is Ahmadinejad goodfor world anti-imperialism?
10. Is Ahmadinejad more progressive than hisopponents in terms of social and economic policy? Is he a champion of theIranian poor?
11. What do we want the U.S. government to doabout the current situation in Iran?
12. What should we do about the current situation in Iran?
13. Is it right to advocate a different form ofgovernment in Iran?
1. Was the June 12, 2009 election fair?
Even if every vote was counted fairly, this was not afair election. 475 people wished to run for president, but the un-electedGuardian Council, which vets all candidates for supposed conformity to Islamicprinciples, rejected all but 4.
Free elections also require free press, freeexpression, and freedom to organize, all of which have been severelycurtailed.”
2. You call the Guardian Council un-elected, butisn’t it true that it is indirectly elected by the Iranian people?
Every eight years the Assembly of Experts ispopularly elected. Candidates must be clerics and must be approved by theGuardian Council. The Assembly of Experts then chooses a supreme leader, who rulesfor life (though he can be removed by the Assembly of Experts for un-Islamicbehavior). The supreme leader appoints the head of the judiciary. The supremeleader chooses half of the 12 members of the Guardian Council and the judiciarynominates the other six, to be ratified by the Parliament. The Guardian Councilthen vets all future candidates for president, parliament, and the Assembly ofExperts.
Thus, once this system was in place the possibilitiesof fundamentally changing it have been essentially nil. If 98 percent of theIranian people decided tomorrow that they opposed an Islamic state, the ruleswould still enable the theocracy to continue in power forever — because theonly people who could change things have themselves to be vetted by thetheocratic rulers. Even amending the constitution requires the approval of thesupreme leader.
Iran is not a dictatorship of the Saudi Arabian sort,where there are no elections and where people have zero input. But the basicprerequisite of a democratic system — that the people can change theirgovernment — is missing.
3. OK, but was there fraud? And was it on a scaleto alter the outcome?
There was certainly fraud: The Iranian government acknowledgesthat in 50 cities there were more votes cast than registered voters. (In Iran,voters can cast their ballots in districts other than those in which theyreside, but “many districts where the excess votes were recorded aresmall, remote places rarely visited by business travelers ortourists.”) Moreover, the vote total also exceeded the number ofregistered voters in two provinces. (Province-wide excess is moresignificant than city-wide, because people would be less likely to vote in anotherprovince than another city.) Perhaps the most damning indication of fraud wasthe fact that Mousavi’s observers, as well as those of the other oppositioncandidates, were frequently not allowed to be present when ballots were countedand the ballot boxes sealed — a flagrant violation of Iranian law.Moreover, supporters of opposition candidates had planned to independentlymonitor the results by text messaging local vote tallies to a central location,but the government suddenly shut down text messaging, making this impossible.
The question, though, is whether the extent of fraudwas sufficient to change the results of the election. We can’t be fully sure.But there is very powerful evidence that either no one emerged with a majority,which would have required a run-off election, or that Mousavi won outright.
According to an analysis by researchers at ChathamHouse, a British think tank, and the Institute of Iranian Studies at theUniversity of St Andrews:
“In a third of all provinces, the officialresults would require that Ahmadinejad took not only all former conservativevoters, and all former centrist voters, and all new voters, but also up to 44%of former Reformist voters, despite a decade of conflict between these twogroups.”
Since Ahmadinejad’s victory in 2005, when manyreformists boycotted the elections and questions of fraud were raised, thehardliners lost their control of local councils in 2007. So an Ahmadinejadsweep in 2009 — when reformist leaders, responding to a growing wave ofdiscontent with the regime, were newly energized to challenge the President –is hard to credit.
Ahmadinejad allegedly won in areas where othercandidates had strong ties and support, including their home provinces. Somehave suggested that this was a result of people not wanting to”waste” their votes on candidates unlikely to win. But in Iran,elections are in two stages: if no candidate gets a majority in round one, thenthere is a run-off. So there was no reason for anyone to refrain from votingfor her preferred candidate in the first round.
4. Didn’t a poll conducted by U.S.-basedorganizations conclude that Ahmadinejad won the election?
The poll, conducted by Terror Free Tomorrow and theNew America Foundation, found that Ahmadinejad was favored over Mousavi by twoto one. But the poll was conducted between May 11 and May 20, 2009, before theofficial beginning of the three-week election campaign, and before the(first-ever) televised presidential debates. These debates were a turning point:millions of Iranians saw displayed the deep divisions in the leadership of theIslamic Republic. They sensed that there was now an opportunity for real change.
More importantly, however, Ahmadinejad received thesupport of only a third of the poll respondents, with almost half eitherrefusing to answer or saying they hadn’t yet made up their minds:
“At the stage of the campaign for President whenour poll was taken, 34 percent of Iranians surveyed said they will vote forincumbent President Ahmadinejad. Mr. Ahmadinejad’s closest rival, Mir HusseinMoussavi, was the choice of 14 percent, with 27 percent stating that they stilldo not know who they will vote for. President Ahmadinejad’s other rivals, MehdiKarroubi and Mohsen Rezai, were the choice of 2 percent and 1 percent,respectively.
“A close examination of our survey resultsreveals that the race may actually be closer than a first look at the numberswould indicate. More than 60 percent of those who state they don’t know whothey will vote for in the Presidential elections reflect individuals who favorpolitical reform and change in the current system.”
When a government acts in secret, conducts anelection lacking in transparency, and bars and restricts foreign journalistsand the free flow of information, it makes sense not to accept its claims.
5. But didn’t Ahmadinejad get lots of votesfrom conservative religious Iranians among the rural population and the urbanpoor? Might not these votes have been enough to overwhelm his opponents?
Ahmadinejad’s support from ultraconservative voterswas certainly not insignificant. In addition, his social welfare programs,funded from oil revenues, have undoubtedly induced many among the poor to givehim their allegiance (see below). And then there are the members of thesecurity apparatus — the Revolutionary Guards and the Basij, the pro-government religious paramilitary force –who, together with their families, number in the millions. But there is noevidence that these were enough to give him the huge majorities he claims. Asfor peasants and villagers, only 35 percent of Iranian voters live in ruralareas. And in any event, there is good reason to believe that rural voters arenot strongly pro-Ahmadinejad. As Chatham House noted, “In 2005, as in2001 and 1997, conservative candidates, and Ahmadinejad in particular, weremarkedly unpopular in rural areas. That the countryside always votes conservativeis a myth. The claim that this year Ahmadinejad swept the board in more ruralprovinces flies in the face of these trends.”
6. Hasn’t the U.S. (and Israel) been interferingin Iran and promoting regime change, including by means of supporting all sortsof “pro-democracy” groups?
In the 1950s and 60s, rightwingers charged that theU.S. civil rights movement was actually controlled by the Soviet Union, throughthe U.S. Communist Party. Of course Communists were involved in the civilrights movement and no doubt Moscow approved. But that’s a far cry fromindicating that the Soviet Union was a decisive force in the civil rightsmovement, let alone that it controlled the movement.
There is no doubt that U.S. agents, as well as thoseof other countries, are hard at work in Iran, as elsewhere. It is well knownthat Washington has meddled in the politics of Venezuela and Bolivia, as wellas Georgia, Ukraine and Lebanon, to take only the most recent examples.Congress has even set up a special fund for “democracy promotion” inIran. But foreign meddling does not prove foreign control. And foreign meddlingdoes not automatically discredit mass movements or their goals; it depends onwho is calling the shots. In any event, there is no evidence that the CIA orany other arm of U.S. intelligence — or Mossad — had anything to do withinitiating or leading the protests in Iran. And it is absurd to see a parallelbetween the rightwing elements in Venezuela and Bolivia — who are not fightingfor greater popular control over their governments — and the millions ofprotesters who have demanded democracy in Iran.
In 1953 U.S. and British intelligence engineered acoup to oust the democratically-elected Mossadeq government in Iran. But thatcoup involved bribing street gangs and a treasonous military. There was nothinglike the mass upsurge that we’ve recently seen in Iran, and there has been nota scrap of credible evidence that the millions of people in the streets thesepast few weeks were brought out by CIA money.
On the contrary, for years now leading Iranian humanrights activists, feminists, trade unionists — people like Shirin Ebadi andAkbar Ganji — have taken the position that Iranian dissidents should notaccept U.S. financial support. They have a consistent record of opposingU.S. bullying, sanctions and threats of war, and they know that any hint oflinks to Washington would be the kiss of death in Iran.
Recently, Iranian state television has broadcastfootage of alleged rioters stating “We were under the influence of Voiceof America Persia and the BBC” and some detainees — politicians,journalists, and others — are said to have confessed to all sorts of Westernplots. Surely, though, no one should take such claims, elicited undertorture or duress, seriously.
7. Has the Western media been biased against theIranian government?
Mainstream Western media have clearly been moreinterested in pointing out electoral fraud and repression in Iran than instates that are closely allied with Washington. But this doesn’t mean thatthere has been no fraud or repression in Iran.
For example, a video of the killing of Neda AghaSoltan spread widely on the internet and the media was quick to turn her deathinto a icon of the brutality of the Iranian government. We never saw a similarresponse to the many victims of government atrocities in Haiti or Egypt orColombia. Nevertheless, the claim by some Iranian officials that she was killedby the CIA or by other demonstrators just to make the regime look bad istotally lacking in credibility.
Western media have always selectively publicized andoften exaggerated the crimes of official enemies. But we shouldn’t concludefrom this that crimes have not been committed. And in the case of Iran, thereis no good evidence so far that Western news reports on the government’selectoral fraud and violent repression of dissent have been fundamentallyinaccurate.
8. Is Mousavi a leftist? A neoliberal? What is therelation between Mousavi and the demonstrators in the streets?
Mousavi’s politics and economic program are not veryclear. He is in many ways a pillar of the Establishment — approved as acandidate by the Guardian Council and a former prime minister who served underAyatollah Khomeini in the 1980s. He had a reputation for being one of theleaders more sympathetic to welfare state programs. Under his primeministership many such programs were enacted, but also leftists were brutallyrepressed. With Washington’s assistance: using U.S. intelligence information,the Iranian government rounded up members of the pro-Soviet Tudeh Party andconducted mass executions, virtually eliminating the Tudeh in Iran and killingmany other leftists as well. It has been argued that the repression wascarried out by the ministry of intelligence and the judiciary, and that theseinstitutions were not in fact under his control even though he was primeminister. Whether or not this is the case, at a minimum Mousavi neitherresigned nor publicly protested the violent repression that took place when hewas prime minister, and thus he cannot be absolved of responsibility.
More recently, he has been an ally of the powerfulbillionaire cleric and former president Hashemi Rafsanjani, who is close tomajor private business interests. Mousavi supports turning over many of thepublicly-owned sectors of the Iranian economy to private hands, but so doesAhmadinejad, who boasts that he has privatized more public assets than hispredecessors, and in fact privatization has been going on for several yearsand is mandated by recently passed legislation. In his campaign for thepresidency, Mousavi called for loosening some of the Islamic Republic’srestrictions on personal liberties, especially as concern women’s rights. ButMousavi came to embody the aspirations of millions of Iranians for more thanthis — for an end to the terrorism of the Basijis and the Revolutionary Guardsand for an even broader democratization of the Islamic Republic. Undoubtedly,some of them hoped — as do we — that the protests would be a first steptowards dismantling the fundamentally anti-democratic system of clerical ruleitself.
During the weeks that followed the election,demonstrators protested voting fraud, but also called increasingly for equalityand freedom — “down with dictatorship!” The marches may have beenstarted mainly by students and liberal-minded middle class people, but theywere quickly joined by growing numbers of workers, elderly people and women inconservative chadors.
It seems that Mousavi’s electoral organization didnot anticipate the massive outpouring of protest after the election and wasunable (and perhaps unwilling, given Mousavi’s Establishment ties) to provideany organization or real leadership. The ferocious violence of the securityforces has left the protesters, and the general public in Iran, stunned andunderstandably intimidated. However, their outrage is deep, and it will not goaway. Protest may soon return to the streets and rooftops. And many are lookingfor other forms of protest. Mousavi, Khatami and Rafsanjani have not made theirpeace with Ahmadinejad, and the split in Iran’s clerical establishment deepens.
The millions who have gone into the streets havealready shown themselves capable of acting independently of Mousavi, and, ashas often been the case in democratic struggles historically around the world,there is good reason to believe that the masses of protesters who have enteredinto the fight for limited demands can transcend the political, social andeconomic program of the movement’s initial leaders. In Iran, this is especiallythe case if trade unions are able to use the opening created by today’schallenges to Ahmadinejad to assert the interests of the poor and lend their organizedstrength to the movement.
9. Is Ahmadinejad good for world anti-imperialism?
There is a foolish argument in some sectors of theleft that holds that any state that is opposed by the U.S. government istherefore automatically playing a progressive, anti-imperialist role and shouldbe supported. On these grounds, many such “leftists” have acted asapologists for murderous dictators like Milosevic and Saddam Hussein. TheCampaign for Peace and Democracy has always argued that we can oppose U.S.imperial policy without thereby having necessarily to back the states againstwhich it is directed.
Ironically, despite their current rhetoric, some U.S.neoconservatives favored an Ahmadinejad victory. They knew that on the mainissues dividing the U.S. and Iran — Tehran’s pursuit of nuclear energy, itssupport for Hamas and Hezbollah, and its insistence on forcing Israel towithdraw completely from the Occupied Territories — Ahmadinejad’s position wasno different from that of Mousavi or that of Iranian public opinion. ButAhmadinejad, with his confrontational style and his outrageous”questioning” of the Holocaust, is a much easier leader to hate andfear; his continuing grip on power therefore serves the goals ofneoconservative hawks and Israeli hardliners. And they know that Iranianpublic opinion solidly supports the cause of Palestinian rights; and thatAhmadinejad’s anti-Jewish rhetoric has harmed, not helped, the Palestinians.
Some of these “leftists” say that whateverAhmadinejad’s faults, the mass upsurge in Iran plays into the hands of U.S.imperialism. On the contrary, a people’s pro-democracy movement is the worstfear of the many authoritarian regimes on which Washington relies to maintainits hegemony; such as the rulers of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Pakistan andelsewhere. And not just among U.S. clients. It is significant that news of thedemonstrations was heavily censored in China and Myanmar, and that the Russiangovernment was one of the first to congratulate Ahmadinejad on his”victory.”
Hugo Chavez too congratulated Ahmadinejad. As ReeseErlich, author of The Iran Agenda whofrequently appears on Democracy Now!, has commented,
“On a diplomatic level, Venezuela and Iran sharesome things in common. Both are under attack from the U.S., including pastefforts at ‘regime change.’ Venezuela and other governments around the worldwill have to deal with Ahmadinejad as the de facto president, so questioningthe election could cause diplomatic problems.
“But that’s no excuse.”
10. Is Ahmadinejad more progressive than hisopponents in terms of social and economic policy? Is he a champion of theIranian poor?
As leftists we are very familiar with rightwingpoliticians disingenuously claiming to care about the poor and the workingclass. The Islamic Republic has long included a social welfare component tohelp it maintain support. Ahmadinejad has undertaken some populist programs,utilizing some of the revenues generated by the sharply higher price of oil.But, even ignoring the fact that basic democratic rights and women’s rights arehardly the exclusive concern of the well-to-do, the Islamic Republic, andespecially Ahmadinejad’s presidency, have not been good for the workers and thepoor of Iran.
Anyone purporting to support the working class has toback independent unions so that workers can defend their own interests both inthe work place and in the society at large. However, Iran has still notratified international labor conventions guaranteeing freedom of associationand collective bargaining and abolishing child labor, and unions in Iranhave been subjected to horrendous repression. As the International Campaign forHuman Rights in Iran has reported:
“Iranian workers are still unable to formindependent trade unions, a right denied both within Iran’s labor code and defacto repressed by the government inaction. The government routinely arrests and prosecutes workers demanding theirmost basic rights, such as demands for wages unpaid, sometimes for periods aslong as 36 months. Security forces often attack peaceful gatherings by workers,harass their families, and even kill them, as happened during a gathering bycopper miners in Shahr Babak, near the city of Kerman, in 2004.”
Under Ahmadinejad’s presidency, the situation hasbeen especially grim:
“Two leading trade unionists, Mansour Osanlooand Mahmoud Salehi, are currently in prison. Another one, Majid Hamidi,recently the target of an assassination attempt, is hospitalized. In additionto being imprisoned and fined, eleven other workers were flogged in February2008 for the crime of participating in a peaceful gathering to commemorateInternational Labor Day, May 1st.
“In January 2006, security forces arrestednearly a thousand members of the Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs BusCompany, attacked some of their homes, beat their families, and even detainedthe wives and children of the leading members, to prevent a planned strike.Since then, most members of the Syndicate’s central council have been targetsof prosecution and imprisonment. The Syndicate’s leader, Mansour Osanloo, iscurrently serving a five- year sentence, while he suffers from eye injuries dueto earlier beatings, and is in danger of going blind. Fifty-four members of theSyndicate have been fired from their jobs and are prosecuted in courts fortheir peaceful activities.”
Teachers’ attempts to organize and collectivelybargain have also met violent repression.
Just this past May Day, the government beatparticipants in a peaceful labor event and arrested the leaders. And inJune, a committee of the International Labour Organization cited Iran for the”grave situation relating to freedom of association in the country.
What makes the need for unions in Iran so importantis that large numbers of workers are forced to work under temporary contractsthat permit even more exploitation of labor than usual. One common practice isfor workers to be fired and then rehired every three months as a way to denythem pensions and other benefits.
11. What do we want the U.S. government to doabout the current situation in Iran?
There is a great deal that the Administration can do.Obama should promise that the U.S. will never launch a military attack on Iranor support an Israeli attack. He should commit the United States not to supportterrorism or sabotage operations in Iran, and immediately order the cessationof any such activities that may still be occurring. He should lift sanctionsagainst Iran — certainly not as a reward to Ahmadinejad for stealing theelection, but because the sanctions have a negative impact on the Iranianpeople and provide one of the main justifications for Ahmadinejad’s iron rule.He should take major initiatives toward disarmament of U.S. nuclear andconventional weapons, and he should withdraw all U.S. troops from Iraq,Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Pakistan. And he should work to promote anuclear-free Middle East, which includes Israel. By reducing these threats,Obama would thereby be removing one of the main rationalizations for Iranianrepression (as well as for its nuclear program).
12. What should we do about the current situation in Iran?
We need to make it clear to the Iranian people thatthere is “another America,” one that is independent of the governmentand opposed to its oppressive and anti-democratic foreign policy. Our support comes with no strings attached and no hiddenagenda. Iranians should be made aware that it is American progressives — notthe U.S. government or the hypocrites of the right — who offer genuinesolidarity.
13. Is it right to advocate a different form ofgovernment in Iran?
As leftists, the Campaign for Peace and Democracysupports radical change everywhere that people do not have full control overtheir political and economic lives. We advocate such change in the UnitedStates, in France, in Russia, in China. And we support it in Iran too. But wedo not support the United States government — or Britain or Israel or anyother country — imposing “regime change” outside its borders byforce. What was wrong with Bush’s invasion of Iraq in 2003 was not that the regime of Saddam Hussein was overthrown –his was a hideous regime and anyone concerned with human decency wanted itended — but that Bush asserted that the United States had the right to invade.Political change imposed by a foreign army, or brought about by the covertoperations of foreign intelligence agencies, is unacceptable, and it isespecially unacceptable when the foreign power concerned has a long history ofinterventions for its own sordid motives: to impose its domination, to controloil resources, to establish military bases.
But do we support the Iranian people if they act toend autocratic rule in Iran? Of course! This is a government that, in additionto its just-completed election fraud and vicious attacks on its own citizens,imprisons, tortures, publicly flogs and hangs political opponents, laboractivists, gays, and “apostates,” and still prescribes execution bystoning as the penalty for adultery. The Head of the Judiciary declared amoratorium on executions by stoning in 2002, but at least five people are knownto have been stoned to death since then, two of them on December 26, 2008.Workers have no right to strike. A woman’s testimony is worth half that of aman’s and women have limited rights to divorce and child custody. The regimeimposes gender apartheid, segregating women in many public places. Veiling iscompulsory and enforced by threats, fines and imprisonment. We should supportIranians’ efforts to end these barbaric practices.
1. See, for example, Amnesty International,”Iran: Worsening repression of dissent as election approaches,” 1February 2009, MDE 13/012/2009, http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/MDE13/012/2009/en;Amnesty International, “Iran’s presidential election amid unrest andongoing human rights violations,” 5 June 2009, http://www.amnesty.org/en/news-and-updates/news/iran-presidential-election-amid-unrest-and-ongoing-human-rights-violations-20090605; Amnesty International, “Iran: Election amid repression of dissent andunrest,” 9 June 2009, MDE 13/053/2009, http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/MDE13/053/2009/en.
2. See BBC, “Iran: Who Holds the Power,” http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/shared/spl/hi/middle_east/03/iran_power/html/default.stm.
3. Michael Slackman,”Amid Crackdown, Iran Admits Voting Errors,” New York Times, June 23, 2009, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/23/world/middleeast/23iran.html.
4. Ali Ansari, ed., Preliminary Analysis of theVoting Figures in Iran’s 2009 Presidential Election, Chatham House and the Institute of Iranian Studies, University of StAndrews, 21 June 2009, http://www.chathamhouse.org.uk/files/14234_iranelection0609.pdf.
5. Kaveh Ehsani, Arang Keshavarzian and Norma ClaireMoruzzi, “Tehran, June 2009,” Middle East Report Online, June 28,2009, http://www.merip.org/mero/mero062809.html.
6. Ansari, op. cit.
7. George Friedman, “The Iranian Election andthe Revolution Test,” Stratfor, June 22, 2009, http://www.stratfor.com/weekly/20090622_iranian_election_and_revolution_test; Esam Al-Amin, “A Hard Look at the Numbers: What Actually Happened in theIranian Presidential Election?” CounterPunch, June 22, 2009, http://www.counterpunch.org/amin06222009.html.
8. Terror-Free Tomorrow & New America Foundation,”Ahmadinejad Front Runner in Upcoming Presidential Elections; IraniansContinue to Back Compromise and Better Relations with US and West; Results of aNew Nationwide Public Opinion Survey of Iran before the June 12, 2009 PresidentialElections,” June 2009, http://www.terrorfreetomorrow.org/upimagestft/TFT%20Iran%20Survey%20Report%200609.pdf.
9. Eric Hoogland, “Iran’s Rural Vote and ElectionFraud,” June 17, 2009, Agence Global, http://www.agenceglobal.com/Article.asp?Id=2034.
10. Ansari, op. cit.
11. Karl Vick and David Finkel, “U.S. Push forDemocracy Could Backfire Inside Iran,” Washington Post, March 14, 2006, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/03/13/AR2006031301761_pf.html; Akbar Ganji, “Why Iran’s Democrats Shun Aid,” Washington Post, Oct. 26, 2007, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/10/25/AR2007102502216.html; Patrick Disney, “Iranian Civil Society Urges US to End ‘Democracy Fund,’Ease Sanctions,” 16 July 2008, http://www.niacouncil.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1173&Itemid=2.
12. See, for example, “Iran’s Civil SocietyMovement Sets Up ‘National Peace Council’,” CASMII Press Release, 10 July2008, http://www.campaigniran.org/casmii/index.php?q=node/5573/print.
13. AFP, “Iran shows footage of ‘riotersinfluenced by Western media’,” 23 June 2009, http://www.khaleejtimes.com/DisplayArticleNew.asp?col=§ion=middleeast&xfile=data/middleeast/2009/June/middleeast_June775.xml; Michael Slackman, “Top Reformers Admitted Plot, Iran Declares,” NewYork Times, July 4, 2009, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/04/world/middleeast/04confess.html;CNN, “Newsweek reporter in Iran reportedly ‘confesses’,” July 1,2009, http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/meast/07/01/iran.newsweek/.
14. Of course, when similar torture was carried outby the U.S. government, U.S. media only referred to “harsh interrogationtechniques.” See Glenn Greenwald, “The NYT calls Iranian interrogation tactics ‘torture’,” Salon, July 4, 2009, http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2009/07/04/torture/index.html.
15. Thomas Erdbrink and William Branigin,”Iranian cleric says protesters wage war against God,” BostonGlobe, June 27, 2009, http://www.boston.com/news/world/middleeast/articles/2009/06/27/iranian_cleric_says_protesters_wage_war_against_god?mode=PF.
16. The Tower Commission Report, President’sSpecial Review Board, New York: BantamBooks/Times Books, 1987, pp. 103-04.
17. Ehsani, et al., op. cit.
18. Billy Wharton, “Selling Iran: Ahmadinejad,Privatization and a Bus Driver Who Said No,” Dissident Voice, June 28th,2009, http://dissidentvoice.org/2009/06/selling-iran-ahmadinejad-privatization-and-a-bus-diver-who-said-no/.
19. Stephen Zunes, “Why U.S. Neocons WantAhmadinejad to Win,” AlterNet, June 17, 2009, http://www.alternet.org/story/140707/.
20. See Obama’s assessment of the lack of differencebetween Mousavi and Ahmadinejad, http://blogs.abcnews.com/politicalpunch/2009/06/president-obama-not-much-difference-between-ahmadinejad-and-mousavi.html; on public opinion, see Terror Free Tomorrow poll cited above.
21. Joshua Mitnick, “Why Iran’s Ahmadinejad ispreferred in Israel; The incumbent president will be easier to isolate thanreformist leader Mr. Mousavi, say some leading Israeli policymakers,”Christian Science Monitor, June 21, 2009, http://www.csmonitor.com/2009/0621/p06s04-wome.html.
22. Reese Erlich, “Iran and LeftistConfusion,” ZNet, June 29, 2009, http://www.zcommunications.org/znet/viewArticle/21820.
23. See ILO, “Ratifications of the Fundamentalhuman rights Conventions by country” (7/1/09), http://www.ilo.org/ilolex/english/docs/declworld.htm.
24. International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran,”Workers’ Rights,” http://www.iranhumanrights.org/2006/01/workersrights/.
25. Amnesty International, “Iran: Prisoners ofconscience / fear of torture or ill-treatment,” 10 June 2009, MDE13/054/2009, http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/MDE13/054/2009/en.
26. International Labour Organization, “ILOGoverning Body elects new Chairperson — Committee on Freedom of Associationcites Myanmar, Cambodia and Islamic Republic of Iran,” Press release, 19June 2009, ILO/09/41, http://www.ilo.org/global/About_the_ILO/Media_and_public_information/Press_releases/lang–en/WCMS_108519/index.htm.
27. Amnesty International, “Iran: New executionsdemonstrate need for unequivocal legal ban of stoning,” 15 January 2009,MDE 13/004/2009, http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/MDE13/004/2009/en.
THE CAMPAIGN FOR PEACE AND DEMOCRACY (CPD) advocatesa new, progressive and non-militaristic U.S. foreign policy — one thatencourages democracy, justice and social change. Founded in 1982, the Campaignopposed the Cold War by promoting “detente from below.” It engagedWestern peace activists in the defense of the rights of democratic dissidentsin the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, and enlisted East-bloc human rightsactivists against anti-democratic U.S. policies in countries like Nicaragua andChile. The Campaign sees movements for peace, social justice and democraticrights, taken together, as the embryo of an alternative to great power politicsand to the domination of society by privileged elites.
Other recent CPD campaigns include: an open letter toIranian officials in defense of human rights leader Shirin Ebadi, published bythe New York Review of Books at http://www.nybooks.com/articles/22511;Support for Czech opponents of the U.S. military radar in the Czech Republic;and a statement on Gaza entitled “No More Blank Check for Israel!.” All ofthese are available at the CPD website.
Campaign for Peace and Democracy, 2790 Broadway, #12, NY, NY10025, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: www.cpdweb.org