One thing and one thing only
A movement to end the Islamic Republic
Foad Pashaie &
December 20, 2004
Tomorrow we will lend our collective credibility and political weight to an appeal
that calls for a national referendum in Iran under international supervision
to draft a new constitution and adopt a new system of government that is in compliance
with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and all its associated covenants
by adding our signatures to this appeal (60000000.com).
The appeal for a national referendum has won support from almost all strands
of the political spectrum. The signatories to the appeal include: intellectuals,
clerics, students, liberals, republicans, those who seek reform of the current
Islamic Republic and supporters of a constitutional monarchy. The referendum
was drafted in vague terms on purpose to win the support of the various groups.
The appeal has also been signed by some controversial figures including a founding
member of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.
Several genuine leaders of the monarchist, nationalist and student movements
have boycotted this call for a national referendum. They correctly point out
that several of the signatories to the appeal are individuals who supported
the Islamic Republic early in its inception or continued to support the regime
so-called "reformers" who wanted to reform the system under Khatami
to save it. They see this idea of a referendum as another trick by the Regime's
propaganda machine to buy themselves time just like they did when Khatami was
elected president in 1997. They do not want the opposition or opposition figures
to be tainted by signing onto the same appeal that bears the signatures of
To us, however, the terms of the call for the referendum are clear. The referendum
calls for a new constitution and a new system of government. We view and interpret
this language to mean one thing and one thing only: an end to the Islamic Republic
of Iran. This interpretation is shared by the overwhelming number of the other
signatories to this national appeal. It is under this interpretation that we
are signing this appeal and lend our weight and credibility to it.
We will not allow this national movement to attempt to peacefully change the
regime to be hijacked by the regime itself. Nor should the call for a national
referendum be boycotted because of the signatures of several controversial characters.
The people of Iran, once they are free, will decide what to with these figures.
To change the regime in Iran we have to allow those who initially supported the
Islamic Republic (there were many) and who have now been disillusioned by the
regime to also participate in an attempt to bring about its demise.
We are not naive and are under no illusion that the Islamic Regime will accept
the referendum or its results. However, we believe, that it is appropriate to
support peaceful means of political expression such as a call for a national
Our support of a referendum is to spur and continue a debate on the future of
Iran. Our support for a referendum will not divert us from other actions that
must be taken in the months that lie ahead such as a call for the Iranian people
to boycott the upcoming sham Presidential elections in Iran in May of 2005 to
show the whole world the illegitimacy of the Islamic Regime.
We also wish to make it clear that if the will of the overwhelming majority of
the Iranian people to have a different system of government is not honored we
will support (as we have in the past) other means of political expression such
as: peaceful civil disobedience, marches and protests and strikes by students
and laborers and other social groups.
We along with the rest of the pro-democracy movement support President Bush's
vision of a democratic middle east. We, in return, wish to have the President's
support for a free and democratic Iran. The President, however, has been quite
quiet as of late. What we want from the Bush administration and Congress are
not words but action. The Bush administration must engage Iran's pro-democracy
movement and support those who are fighting for a free and democratic Iran. A
genuine support of the Iran pro-democracy movement in all its permutations (
students, political prisoners, journalists, religious freedom and human rights
supporters, women's rights activists) is the only legitimate Iran policy that
can be adopted by this administration.
Foad Pashaie is the Secretary General of the Constitutionalist Party of Iran
(irancpi.com), the largest political party
outside of Iran. Pooya Dayanim is the President of the US-based Iranian Jewish
Public Affairs Committee (IJPAC). The views expressed in this article are solely
those of its authors and not necessarily of the respective institutions that