Week of December 2nd, 2019 | Iran Unfiltered is a weekly digest tracking Iranian politics & society by the National Iranian American Council | Subscribe Here
- “Green Movement” Leader Mousavi Denounces Killing of Protestors
- Former President Khatami Comments on Protests
- Hardline Kayhan Attacks Mousavi, Khatami & Karoubi
- Registration Period Starts for Upcoming Parliamentary Election
- Rouhani Claims Some Protests Organized by Outside Powers
- Khamenei Says Some Killed in Protests are “Martyrs”
Mir Hossein Mousavi, the “Green Movement” leader and 2009 presidential candidate, denounced the gas price hike and killing of protestors. He declared: “The violent and bloody confrontation with angry and destitute people who’ve reached their limits, who came to the streets in protest at an irrational and profit-aiming decision that goes against the interests of the poor … is similar to merciless killing of the people on the bloody September 8th of 1978.”
He added regarding the massacre committed that year by the Shah’s regime: “The killers of 1978 were representatives of an irreligious regime. The authorities and shooters of November 2019 are the representatives of a religious government. At that time, the Shah was the commander in chief. Today, it is the vali-faqi (Supreme Leader) with absolute authority.”
Mousavi then called for the prosecution of those who “ordered and carried out” the crackdown. He ended his statement by saying the Iranian political system should pay heed to the “consequences” of the “Jaleh Square massacre” (September 8, 1978).
Mousavi and his wife Zahra Rahnavard have been under house arrest since February 2011. Mousavi ran against Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the 2009 presidential election and contested the results of the election, which is widely believed to have been rigged in favor of Ahmadinejad. The subsequent “Green Movement” protests were led by Mousavi and another 2009 presidential candidate, Mehdi Karoubi.
Former reformist Iranian President Mohammad Khatami offered his condolences to those who “suffered” in recent protests. Khatami stated: “For the deprived segment of Iranian society, the issue is not reformists or principlists (conservatives), or even the form of government. This segment wants a life that is minimally secure and if this cannot be arranged it will obviously protest.”
Khatami warned that no amount of security forces could stop protests if the middle and lower classes protested together. He stated: “In the recent events, the middle class and above did not join. But they were observers who sympathized with the protesters.”
Khatami added about the consequences of Iran’s “deprived class” and “middle class” protesting together: “Military, security, and police power will not be able to do anything and the whole of society will be positioned against the government.”
Khatami expressed sympathy for all those affected by the protests: “A very bitter event took place. Many people lost their lives which, beyond the people, forces responsible for security and stability also lost their lives. And widespread damage was done to public property and facilities. You cannot not sympathize with the people who have been harmed or be indifferent to the destruction that has taken place.”
Khatami said outside forces sought to take advantage of the protests. He proclaimed: “Basically all of the political and propaganda forces outside of the country pretended that the people rose up against the Islamic Republic and are trying to overthrow it … those who don’t want the system or Iran, are trying to promote pessimism.”
He added: “If there are problems in the Islamic Republic, they have to be expressed and solutions found without damaging the core of the Islamic Republic, Iran, the country’s territorial integrity, security, and holding on to principles.”
The hardline outlet Kayhan vociferously attacked Mousavi, Khatami, and Karoubi for their statements on the protests. It stated: “Khatami, Mousavi, and Karoubi in their recent remarks sought to exonerate and justify the crimes and wickedness carried out by an organized network of anti-revolutionaries and armed thugs. Without criticizing the [Rouhani] administration for being the designer and implementer of the gas rationing and price hike, they tried to make the political system the target of accusations.”
Kayhan further said about Mousavi’s statement: “Mousavi concealed the crimes of the thugs and terrorists who have killed people, burnt gas stations, banks, and public and private property, attacked mosques and burnt the Quran, and attacked the innocent. He compared the recent events to the Shah’s killings at Jaleh Square and this became the headline of outlets connected to MI6 and the CIA, which have been instruments of coups and repression in Iran.”
The registration period has begun for candidates seeking to run in Iran’s upcoming parliamentary election. The registration window lasts for one week, December 1st – 7th. The election is on February 21st, 2020.
On the fifth day of registration, an election official said that 8703 men and 1053 women had registered to run so far. The Guardian Council will vet the candidates that register and determine the final list of approved candidates.
Former Parliamentary Speaker and Green Movement leader Mehdi Karoubi sparked controversy over a statement he made on the upcoming election. At a time when some political forces are calling for a boycott of the election, Karoubi called on members of his “Etemad” party to participate in the election.
However, Karoubi’s son later said he was only urging known political figures to register to run and to not be afraid of being disqualified by the Guardian Council. He said he was not specifically calling for the public to participate.
Some conservative political forces have announced a coalition for the upcoming parliamentary election. In announcing its creation, the group (dubbed “The Council of Coalition of Islamic Revolution Forces”) discussed the recent protests and expressed sympathy for affected people.
This conservative coalition is reportedly led by Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf, a former mayor of Tehran and presidential candidate. According to a report by the reformist Fararu, Ghalibaf is leading an effort to reframe the image of conservatives and have younger people lead their movement. If Ghalibaf himself runs for parliament, he reportedly has a high chance to become the next parliamentary speaker.
Incumbent Speaker Ali Larijani has said he won’t seek another term in parliament. This has fueled speculation he will run for president in 2021.
President Rouhani said that some protesters were “organized” in accordance with “plans” started over two years ago by foreign powers. He stated: “They planned for over two years for this. Last year at one point they wanted to do something and it wasn’t the right time for them. This year they were thinking of another time and were planning to do something at the end of January and February around the time of the [parliamentary] election. When this issue was announced [the gas price hike] they got orders from their masters from abroad that the time had arrived and for them to execute their plan.”
Rouhani said protestors connected to foreign powers should be prosecuted, but that there should be “mercy” for others. He stated: “If someone committed a crime and was dependent on an outside power or an infiltrator, they should be prosecuted. But for those who committed no crime in this way or committed minor violations, they should be treated with mercy and should be freed.”
Ayatollah Khamenei has supported a report put out by the Supreme National Security Council evaluating the recent protests and the government’s reaction to them. The report was prepared by Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of the national security council.
Khamenei said that “ordinary citizens” killed in the protests who were not involved in “riots” will be designated as “martyrs.” Their families will then be eligible for support from the Martyrs Foundation. He also said that the families of anyone killed in the protests can seek “diyeh” (a form of legal restitution).