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Karbaschi Tells Rooz: People Taught the Regime and Reformists a Lesson


By Fereshteh Ghazi, Rooz Online

The head of Iran’s pro-reform Agents of Construction party (Kargozaran Sazandeghi) Gholam-Hossein Karbaschi called the June 14 vote of the majority of Iranians for Hassan Rowhani as the next president to be the product of the maturity of Iranian society. He added that the vote was a message for reformers and the regime, adding, “People sent the message that if you block our path, we will pursue other ways to get to our goals and we shall move forward gradually through civil and peaceful methods.”

Gholam-Hossein Karbaschi

Read on for the excerpts of the interview.

Rooz: With the victory of the reformists what is their plan now? Do the reformists and Mr. Rowhani have a specific plan to change the current conditions in the country or they did not expect to win and used the election atmosphere to merely declare people’s demands?

Karbaschi: You can’t predict what will happen. But the enthusiasm that was shown speaks of people’s demands in the political, social, economic and even cultural fields. Nobody, including Mr. Rowhani can claim to provide all of the demands, neither in the short term nor even in the near mid period. People too must be told this frankly. Still, Mr. Rowhani has plans and he has said that conditions can be improved. But demands too must be reduced. Even if we believe that conditions are not going to get worse and that they will gradually improve, this is a hopeful sign. I am very optimistic because the movement that has been created is very mature and experienced and it understands the issues very well. Take a look; within just a few short days when the reformists formed a coalition and the election of Mr. Rowhani and without any media and serious campaigning, a very strong social foundation has been created all the way to the provinces and the villages in the country. We have some villages in Ghom as an example, where there is very little possibility for reformers to campaign while there are also villages there where 100 percent of the inhabitants voted for Mr. Rowhani.

Rooz: Analysts thought that people would not vote in large numbers because of the last election. How do you evaluate public participation?

Karbaschi: Two points deserve mentioning. The first is that what people had demanded in the last election and what they want now in the social, economic, cultural and political spheres have not been met. They continue to pursue and demand these through various ways. People do not give up and sit on the sidelines but continue to work on their demands through various ways. Some participate positively such as participation in elections and through social actions; others do it negatively. People’s participation in the elections is the most objective ways of pursuing their demands and demands in the sphere of economics are most prominent there. No matter how we look at things it cannot be denied that the vast majority of people have problems with economic issues and their daily livelihood. Inflation, rising prices, etc makes people act. In places where political maturity is low demands take the form of destructive action while in Iran where there is considerable experience gained in the last 20 to 30 years and activism over social and political issues participation in elections to enact minimum change is one way to attain demands. The others aspect of this is the maturity of people and society as a whole particularly under conditions of oppression and denial of their demands. This is where maturity shows itself. Of course this situation can result in negative action which would be dangerous for society while the other option is a positive response through such events as elections and being active through reasonable methods. It appears that Iranian society has attained political maturity without a strong political organization because political groups are not very free to engage in political activism. So it appears that political organization is strong within society to use reasonable methods for reasonable demands, and this is very encouraging.

Rooz: When I spoke with Saeed Leylaz recently he said the issue was not changing an individual but changing the policies of the country and if the supreme leader does not decide to change the policies then changing a person would not bring about change. What do you think? Do you see changes in policies? Especially as many thought real votes would not be counted this time as well. But since the votes were counted and presented, does it mean policies have changed?

Karbaschi: This is true in a democracy where changes are not those of individuals but of programs, policies and methods of administering society. Those who want people’s votes want to provide the demands of the people. When politicians see such a strong demand for change in society, they accept many of the demands for changes in policies even if it is for the continuity of the regime and the stability of the country. Experience has shown us that change in Iran is not impossible unless unreasonable methods are used. I think what has taken place now has created the basis for implementing the many changes that people desire.

Rooz: The last election continues to hurt people, some deaths, others are still in prison while some continue to pay a heavy price politically, economically and even personally. But they still went to the polls with hope. What message do you have for the rulers and for the reformists?

Karbaschi: By going to the polls, people sent the message that reformism is possible through reasonable means, contrary to those who said the regime would ignore the votes. If reformists act through reasonable methods they will succeed. Reforms do not begin with the maximum demands but must move forward with demands that can be achieved. People sent the message that if you block their movement and stop them they will pursue other methods to attain their goals. They would not stop and would use other civil and peaceful ways towards reform and the attainment of their demands. People taught the rulers and reformists a lesson and now it is we who must learn from this lesson.

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