Middle East

Iran Document: Mousavi on “Constitutional Monarchy” Movement

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By Prof. Scott Lucas | 11 August 2010

Mir Hossein’s letter of 5 August, published in Rah-e-Sabz and translated by Khordaad 88:

We are marking the anniversary of the “Constitutional Monarchy” movement that has echoed the necessity to condition power for more than a hundred years.


Aside from demands for justice, freedom, and establishment of law, the placing of conditions on power is the result of our ancestors’ struggle and self sacrifice. The institutions that rose with the movement were constrained by the so-called modernising movement of Reza Pahlavi [the next-to-last Shah of Iran] and finally stopped developing despite the many lives lost. The movement that put people first stopped, and the dark era of the first and second Pahlavis overshadowed the fundamental values of the movement. However, these values that came about with great sacrifice continued to live on through people’s continual struggle to free themselves from despotism and authoritarianism and through people’s inclinations toward freedom, justice, and their demand to control their own destiny.

The martyrdom of those like Sattar Khan, the General of the People, and the brave representative of people in the Parliament, Modarres, and the killings and imprisonment of many other freedom-seeking activists are facts in our history that can testify today how hard has it been on this path where people have never given up. The movements that later nationalized the oil industry, the Rising of People on the day of 5 June [1963], and the tight struggles of the two decades that followed all show that what was achieved in the movement to condition power 100 years ago did not fade away from the sight of people. Instead it has always been looked upon by the people in their struggles.

The victory of the Islamic Revolution with the leadership of Imam Khomeini in February 1979 was the result of 100 years of ups and downs of our nation in its history. Today, witnessing signs like chauvinism, escape from the rule of law, and establishment of lies instead of laws indicates that despotism is reproducing itself and that the path that we have walked has not achieved its aims yet.

Oppression is doomed to falsity whether it happens during the Nasser-al-Din Shah a 100 years ago, during the Pahlavi Dynasty, or during the Islamic Republic. Oppression during the Islamic Revolution is even worse and darker because it is committed though the name of Islam.

We all know how even in those early years during the “Constitutional Monarchy” movement, intellectuals and religious scholars considered religious despotism as the worst kind of despotism. The experience of the last 100 years and what went on during the last year indicates that, from among all the key concepts of the movement of “constitutional monarchy” like freedom, justice, and rule of law, the concept of the conditioning of power has the most important effect on our destinies.

Today our nation is constantly asked to obey the systems of power in the name of religion without any allusion to the right of people to control their own fate or any talk of the respect for the innate human dignity and the basic rights of citizens. There are no mentions of arguments like those of Imam [Khomeini]’s when he spoke with the utmost clarity in speech and logic about the rights of people to choose their own destinies….

Instead of answering to the atrocities they committed on the streets on days of 25 and 26 of June [2009] and the day of Ashura [27 December] and in the universities and prisons, insteading of responding as to why the evade the law, the authoritarians only seem to get angrier. They become more and more involved with violence, insulting and accusing others of lies. They close down the newspapers and turn the national television to their own tool for propaganda.

They create armies to fight the freedom available on the virtual space that has risen out of the creativity of our youth…They can’t even tolerate this last remaining hole in their wall to block freedom and they close it down against all the rules and laws.

If we look carefully, we would easily notice that today there are no obstacles in the way of development of despotism. That is why the “constitutional monarchy” movement teaches us that the most important tool that can condition power is the non-violent struggle that our nation has recently started. Some of the demands of the Green Movement clearly reveal this side of the resistance against despotism.

Rights like the right to free demonstrations, freedom of press, and acceptance of national pluralism are facing serious opposition by the authoritarians, because they clearly limit their illicit influence. Moreover, their reluctance to fully abide to the Constitution, demonstrates the extent of the difficulty for those in power to abandon their thrones and assume accountability to the public.

We all know that the first step in agreeing to implement the Constitution would be for the rulers to declare that they recognise the people’s right to choose their own destiny. To ignore such a right is in fact to turn one’s back on everything that the nation of Iran has accomplished, with great struggle, throughout the past 100 years, especially during the Islamic Revolution.

Among all of the demands and resolutions that would lead to the people’s sovereignty over their fate and entailing accountability and restrictions on power, laying the ground for a free and competitive election is the most important: an election that would not compromise our national legacies with the prohibitions of the Guardian Council and their illicit supervision. It is for this reason that anyone who believes in pluralism in Iran must campaign for a free and competitive election.


Scott Lucas is Professor of American Studies at the University of Birmingham, where he has worked since 1989. A specialist in US and British foreign policy, he has written and edited seven books, more than 30 major articles, and a radio documentary and co-directed the 2007 film Laban!. Formerly a journalist in the United States, Scott has written for newspapers including The Guardian and The Independent and was an essayist for The New Statesman. He appears regularly on British, American, and international radio and television as a specialist on current affairs, politics, and history. His blog began life as Watching America at Libertas: The Centre For US Foreign Policy.

A native of Alabama in the United States, Scott is assisted by his wife and two children, one of whom has his own political blog, and is plagued by his loyalty to Leeds United Football Club. He is also a proud member of Red Sox Nation.

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