Week of February 13th, 2023 | Iran Unfiltered is a digest tracking Iranian politics & society by the National Iranian American Council
Support for Mousavi transition proposal
Over 350 journalists, political activists, and civil society activists signed a statement on Sunday 23 Bahman (February 12) supporting “Mir Hossein Mousavi’s three-stage democratic transition program from the Islamic Republic.” The majority of signatories to this statement reside in Iran. Mir Hossein Mousavi, a former prime minister under house arrest since 2010 following the Green Movement, announced a new political strategy earlier this month by calling for a constitutional referendum in an open letter.
“What remains unresolved now and still is corruption, injustice and suppression of political and civil liberties,” wrote the signatories of the statement on Sunday. The letter blames these problems on the unlimited power granted to the Supreme Leader by the existing Constitution.
The recent protests and slogan “Women, Life, Freedom” after the death of Mahsa Amini have shocked the political system, they said. The government, with all its power of repression, could not suppress new ideas. “With the current social awakening and the desperation for reform within the existing structure, there is no other option than to put the fate of the nation in its own hands.”
The signatories wrote at the end of this statement, while emphasizing the Islamic Republic’s peaceful and nonviolent transition: “We accept Mir Hossein Mousavi’s message after twelve years of confinement and resistance and conformity with the nation’s protests and demands, and we will insist that his three-stage plan be realized.”
The Islamic Association of University Teachers also declared that fundamental reform is inevitable. The Islamic Association of University Teachers supported proposals issued by Mousavi, Mostafa Tajzadeh, and former president Mohammad Khatami. Khatami’s solutions differ from Mousavi’s and Tajzadeh’s in calling for reforms rather than a constitutional referendum, and the association suggested they aim to achieve the more modest proposal first.
“We received messages or statements from three well-known, respected, and trusted individuals,” the statement said. “Despite being incarcerated, confined, or restricted, they still shared a common understanding of the country. People who are unhappy and worried about its conditions are completely supported by them.”
“The Islamic Association of Universities hopes that Mr. Khatami’s least expensive strategy will succeed. In this way, we will be able to ensure that the strategies of Mr. Mousavi and Tajzadeh, which are full of honesty and compassion, lead to fundamental constitutional reforms in the medium term based on the opinions and participation of all sections of Iranian society.”
Keyvan Samimi opposes appointing leaders from abroad
Keyvan Samimi, a political prisoner recently released from Semnan prison, spoke to Etemad newspaper and indicated that dialogue and leadership for the protest movement must come from within Iran.
According to Mr. Samimi, the first and most urgent thing to do is to have a dialogue, “and we should not take or talk about too many big steps. Recently, I have noticed that some people abroad are appointing leaders. The reformation movement that starts and the dialogues that are formed will have the content that is needed. Dialogue is necessary for every movement of non-violence reform.”
The constitution must be amended to resolve protests and riots, according to hardline activist Bahonar.
Reformists are not the only ones calling for a change to the constitution, hardliners have begun to as well. A representative of the Islamic Republic of Iran for several terms, and an activist for the influence of the authoritarian movement in Iran, Mohamadreza Bahonar recently said that the constitution should be amended, similar to what Seyyed Mohammad Khatami advocated as well.
He believes that the “riot problem” has been collected, but not resolved, and that the government must continue to work hard, and the people must take charge. Using a constitutional mechanism, he believes the Constitution should be amended. He also suggested a tribune for people to express themselves.
80 thousand people reportedly included in the amnesty decree
This government order could be the most important amnesty order in the last four decades. In spite of comparisons to amnesty decrees passed in 2012 and 2018, the order encompasses all judicial cases at the prosecutor’s office level. As a result, it is likely to be the largest amnesty order ever issued by the Islamic Republic.
Over 95% of those arrested during the recent protests, as well as some former political prisoners, were released under this amnesty prefaced by the 44th anniversary of the founding of the Islamic Republic. Producer and director Mohammad Rasoulov is one of them. Among them are Elmira Rahmani and Fariba Afshar, both Baha’is from Isfahan, Zahra Kashkaki, a student at Tarbiat Modares University in Tehran, and one of those arrested during the nationwide protests of the past few months, Mohammad Reza Moradi, as well as Amir Mehdi Khadem, who was arrested again in January. Nasrollah Lashani, a nationalist activist arrested by the Turkish border guard and sentenced to five years in prison a few years ago, Naser Hemati, a doctor and translator based in Isfahan, and Besmellah Barahoui, Esmail and Ebrahim Sargolzai, three Baloch teenagers from Zahedan. Niloufer Mirzaei Bafti, a student at Al-Zahra University, was also released.
Civil activists, who express satisfaction with the recent release of prisoners, have raised the question of why the release order does not include the condition of influential prisoners like Narges Mohammadi, Faezeh Hashemi, Mehdi Mahmoudian, Saeed Madani, Reza Shahabi, Rasul Badaghi, Mostafa Nili and Mostafa Tajzadeh. According to them, the government is afraid that the release of these figures will lead to renewed protests.
Farhad Meysami was also released from prison. Meysami had been in prison since August 2017 and recent photos of him in prison showed a dramatic weight loss from his hunger strike in protest of mandatory hijab, which sparked significant concern and commentary.
Grammy Award for Shervin Hajipour
On Sunday, Feb 5, Shervin Hajipour’s song “Baraye” won the Grammy Award for best social song. The wife of US President Joe Biden, Jill Biden, attended the awards ceremony for this song. According to Billboard, between 95,000 and 115,000 votes for Shervin’s song were registered on the Grammy website. In response to winning the Grammy and after months of silence, Shervin posted on Instagram: “We won.”
Also, he wrote on his twitter account, “I and all Iranians are delighted with this award.” However, I must admit that so much of Iranian life and happiness has been destroyed by the government that the wife of its president has given me this award.
Keyhan Kalhor and Hamid Saeedi won this award in the past, and Mohammad Reza Shajarian and Hossein Alizadeh have also been nominated.
Hajipour was attacked by hardliners following his victory. Daniel Memar, editor of Hamshahri newspaper, wrote a note about Shervin Hajipour’s Grammy award. He believes Hajipour’s song does not deserve this award, saying the award was not based upon the music itself.
Controversial decision to sell government property with Khamenei’s approval
After being approved by the heads of the three branches of government, a resolution titled “Generating the State’s Assets” has been approved by Khamenei. Experts have expressed opposition to this decision in recent weeks, emphasizing its illegality while warning about its corrupting consequences. Critically, those who likely will have the resources to buy these assets amid widespread economic deprivation will undoubtedly be from the well-connected elite.
Its primary objective is to sell the government’s “surplus assets” to finance infrastructure development, which is related to the huge budget deficit. This plan has been criticized by a lawyer and faculty member at the University of Tehran. Mohsen Borhani wrote on Twitter: “From the constitution to today, no law has ever been approved, and all civil, criminal, administrative, etc., have been suspended so generously.”
Newspaper Jomhri-e-Islami called the resolution illegal and wrote: “When the top managers ignore the constitution, it is impossible for lower level managers to obey the law.” Despite all the criticisms, the “Government Assets Production System” was unveiled on Sunday morning, 12 February, in a ceremony attended by the Minister of Economic Affairs and Finance. Ehsan Khandozi claimed in this ceremony that most criticisms in the past days were “unfair and lacking in information”.Back to top