Flowers for Bullets

Nov 28, 20090 comments


Gol dar moghabeleh Gholooleh [Flowers for Bullets] is what student activist and Mousavi campaigner Emad Bahavar who was recently released from prison is calling it. What does he mean? A summary from [Agh Bahman] There’s only two weeks left to 16 Azar [7th of December] and some are expecting it to be like 13 Aban, if not like Quds Day. At the same time, after 13 Aban, some conclude that the violence of security forces is really to provoke people towards violence too. And this will pave the way for more violence on the part of security. The harsher tone and actions of some demonstrators has worried some and certain political figures and activists have expressed their worries about the green movement becoming violent. (note I am not referring to some really funny or cool slogans, but the general demands of the movement). I too am slightly worried about this. That is, I am worried about the movement getting more violent or its demands going beyond the “total implementation of the constitution” and the “full release of political prisoners”. I think this will reduce the universality of the movement. Not to mention that we must measure the strenght of every movement in its demands. If the green movement can reach a full implementation of the constitution, it has done more than anyone can imagine (if you have some time, go and read the constitution, and note this also that Mousavi and especially Karoubi have stressed that they want to go back to the draft of the constitution written in 79.) I’m going to bring in some analysis and statements released in the past few days about the need to abstain from violence on 16 Azar. Note that one of these was released by Tahkim Vahdat, one of the most radical factions within Iran. Maybe they are truly worried that they are speaking out about this. You can read the full statements via the links I’ve put, here I only repost those parts which have to do with this discussion. Statement by Tahikm Vahdat Political activists are going through one of the most difficult times since the revolution. They no longer have minimum freedoms to hold even a small gathering. In this atmosphere we ask citizens to participate in upcoming demonstrations in the most peaceful manner and to shout slogans which keep the green movement within the frameworks of a peaceful movement and to keep from any radicalization, because the highest aim of this movement is to save Iran from the hands of those radicals which are willing to sacrifice all for the benefit of their own faction. The Green Movement lives on because of its emphasis on peaceful protest, abiding the law, an emphasis on the constitution, and ethical behavior. Attributes which all go against the current dominant authority which sets up a tragedy like Kahrizak and blames one doctor for all the atrocities and through doing so only brings back the horrors of the student dormitories and a stolen plastic shaver [the only person charged with the assault on the student dormitories in 1999 was convicted of stealing a plastic shaver]. Statement by the Iran Freedom Movement The state will have to pay a heavy price for using this much violence. It will want to continue this path. Thus, it will need to justify it. The authorities want to radicalize this movement. Experience has shown us that once citizens utilize violence, this only gives the state an excuse to use more of it. Paramilitary forces infiltrate the ranks of protesters and try to provoke them to react violently. This is while militants always have the upper hand in violent combat because of the resources they have available to them. At the same time, the radicalization of this movement will only reduce its universality, and reduce the number of people willing to stand with it. Thus, a movement which allowed for all people, whether young or old, man or woman, family or individuals to participate in its gatherings might evolve into something that few will be willing to participate in. The Freedom Movement of Iran believes that this movement will only triumph if it abides by peaceful, paths of reform. “Non-violence” is not only a temporary tactic. But rather, from the birth of this movement, it has been the main strategy. Unfortunately, some opposition forces outside the country which do not have realistic views of the realities inside, willingly or unwillingly are provoking students to violence for 16 Azar. They are urging students to use the militia’s tactics on 13 Aban to “get revenge” on 16 Azar. ILNA’s interview with Ezatollah Sahabi, head of the Freedom Movement A movement which is not hierarchical has advantages and disadvantages. One advantage is that the movement can not be uprooted and can not be silenced because it has no particular leaders and is spread out strongly across society. At the same time, it can easily sway or go in different directions exactly because it has no particular leaders. But we must keep from radical, violent reactions. On the Strategy of Flowers for Bullets, by Emad Bahavar [recently released from prison] The state has yet to even acknowledge the existence of the green movement. When the head of the political wing of the Islamic Coalition Part was asked “how the country should exit this current crisis/situation” he replied: “there is no situation. The fact that chaos has reached a minimum shows that we are no longer in any situation.” Their analysis is based on an old calculation: historically, 20% of Tehran has been in disagreement with them, but has been sitting silently at home and has posed no particular to the state. The events following the elections has given this minority “hope” to create chaos and change the political system. This group will eventually go home when they discover that nothing has really changed. There is no doubt that this analysis is wrong. Do they choose to ignore this reality or simply do not see it? … We can assess that the state has entered this equation based on a wrong analysis. This movement truly exists. This movement is not only on the surface but is rooted within society. Its demands are serious and not meeting them or even minding them will create serious obstacles and crises be it in the social, political or economic realms for the system. The persistence of these demands will only slowly eat away at the legitimacy of the system itself. But even while activists, professors and intellectuals warn of this, the state pays no heed. One reason for this lack of attention will always be that the state will claim these analyses are provided by “Western Humanities” and have nothing to do with our “Eastern, Islamic” culture. They claim that the very roots of legitimacy of the state are defined differently in the Islamic context. The system will try its best to reduce this movement to a demonstration of a few thousand students alone. If the demonstrations get violent, the state will use “its legal permission to use legitimate violence”. Not to mention that if the movement itself grows violent, fewer individuals will be willing to join its ranks. This will only reduce the movement to a violent, chaotic effort that will soon be killed off completely by security forces. Some opposition forces outside the country, willingly or unwillingly are trying to make this happen. It is obvious that anti-establishment opposition forces outside the country did not start this movement, but they can certainly try to see it end. On the part of the state, it has thus been decided that violence is preferred to any sort of negotiation or compromise. They are determined to shut down any “chaos” using force and security measures. To do this more broadly, they need a radicalized, violent demonstration. They are thus counting on a mass violent reaction for 13 Aban. 16 Azar is the best opportunity to use the anger of the students. The authorities will at the same time force the leaders of the movement to loudly break ranks with those who are willing to go too far and thus create one of the greatest cracks in the movement so far.