Talking Points on Protests in Iran
1. First and foremost, the violence must stop. Gross human rights violations are occurring in the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) right now at the hand of the government and the Basiji, its plainclothes paramilitary groups. The violence must stop, those jailed for protesting should be immediately released, and communications re-established and protected. 2. It is in the best interest of the IRI to stop the violence against protesters. Such tactics undermine a movement that has shown itself to be truly devoted to peaceful and democratic reform of the system in place; it was not organizing for an overthrow of the Islamic Republic. An almost 85% voter turnout suggests that the Iranian population at large believes in the democratic system they participated in. Such violent tactics therefore only serve to delegitimize the Republic and demean Islamic governance in the eyes of the world. 3. We should support the demands of Iranians for justice. Regardless of one’s political persuasions and beliefs, massive peaceful demonstrations in the Islamic Republic of Iran have made abundantly clear that a great portion of the population does not trust the results of the elections. 4. But this is no longer just about the elections. The movement for democracy and rights in Iran has been building for over 20 years now and women have been at the forefront of it. Reports from within the country (see Reese Erlich) confirm that the movement in Iran is broad and crosses various social lines, including class. In fact, labor leaders such as Mansoor Ossanlo have regularly been imprisoned for their labor efforts. With 23.6% inflation and a 17% national unemployment rate, what is clear is that the issue of economics is one that impacts the entire nation. 5. President Obama's decision not to take sides in the disputed election is wise. His stance is commendable given the history of U.S. intervention in Iran in the form of ongoing covert operations and economic sanctions. We are disappointed by those members of Congress and foreign interest lobbies who opportunistically pressure the Obama administration for broader economic pressure on Iran, which mainly affects the general public and weakens the reform movement. 6. We urge the U.S. and all nations to preserve the territorial integrity of Iran and its sovereignty as a nation. Any active plans by the U.S. or other governments to further weaken the country during this fragile time should be severely condemned as in complete opposition to the freedoms so valued and honored by democratic societies. 7. The building of cross-national alliances between peoples is a valuable development. The commitments of citizen-allies across borders to stand in solidarity with the Iranian people are commendable; this is what is remarkable about what has now been dubbed the “Twitter Revolution.” Technology and social networking are getting redefined in ways that result in communications that are free of direct state interference and are used to demand that corporate media be accountable and aligned with the interests of the people. HELP THE IRANIAN PEOPLE Make your voice heard. ......................... Believe it or not, global solidarities with the Iranian people and denunciations of violence work to shame those Iranians who are inflicting the violence. Honor is important in Iranian culture; you may not change the minds of the government, but we have already heard of cases demonstrating the possibility that basiji, police and military are becoming more timid, knowing the world is watching them. • Demand that the Iranian government use regular, uniformed police force for crowd control and not vigilante and paramilitary forces that can’t be controlled. • Demand that all nations, international organizations and people vehemently denounce these human rights violations and demand that those imprisoned for protesting be freed. • Demand the Universal Declaration of Human Rights be honored in Iran. • Demand that the media continues to responsibly report on this story so that those people working at newspapers, news stations and magazine who want to cover this story, CAN cover this story. A media black-out gives license for an increase in violence and creates an atmosphere of rumor and distrust. The more the world is watching what happens in Iran, the better chance for justice there is. Be a watchdog. ......................... Demand that your leaders in government react to the situation responsibly, with honor and without further harming the Iranian people. Call out opportunism when you notice it in your elected officials, write letters, make phone calls and let them know you expect more from them. Contact your representatives in Congress to demand they oppose any additional economic sanctions. ......................... Economic sanctions collectively punish the Iranian society, encourages a more repressive system, and stifles the movement for justice in Iran. Speak to your Iranian friends to learn about what’s going on. ......................... Join your local organizations mobilizing around this issue and ask how you can help.