Des opposants en exil tentent de s’organiser

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Au sous-sol d’un anonyme hôtel international de Prague, un simple sigle est affiché sur la porte : UDI, pour Unity for Democracy in Iran. Entre deux séminaires d’entreprises percent les échos lancinants du persan. Les 17 et 18 novembre s’est tenue, dans la capitale tchèque, la troisième conférence de cette nouvelle organisation encore peu connue sur la scène de l’opposition iranienne en exil.

Fondée officiellement en février 2012 à Stockholm, l’Union pour la démocratie en Iran s’est déjà réunie en juillet à Bruxelles. Difficile de définir ce qu’est l’UDI. Pas un parti ni une coalition : elle n’est pas assez organisée et hiérarchisée. Pas non plus un think tank ou un forum, mais plutôt une plateforme de réflexion et d’action. C’est un “parapluie”, disent ses organisateurs, un lieu de rencontre destiné à dégager des consensus au sein d’une opposition qui a toujours été handicapée par ses divisions et des ambitions concurrentes.

Mais, en cette fin d’année, l’humeur est à l’optimisme parmi les participants à la réunion. “Les sanctions occidentales commencent à faire mal au régime. Lapopulation souffre et l’on sait que les Iraniens rejettent le régime depuis les manifestations de 2009. Avec ce qui se passe en Syrie et dans le monde arabe, tout est possible aujourd’hui en Iran”, résume Mohsen Sazgara, 58 ans, l’une des têtes pensantes de l’UDI, en exil depuis 2004.

M. Sazgara connaît bien le régime, il en a été un farouche supporter – il a fondé les Gardiens de la révolution (pasdarans) – avant de prendre ses distances et de partir aux Etats-Unis, où il travaille pour la Fondation George W. Bush. “Nous devons utiliser la prochaine présidentielle pour gagner les classes populaires à la cause de la démocratie.”

“LE MOUVEMENT POUR LA DÉMOCRATIE SE PROPAGE”

Pour Mohsen Sazgara, l’une des principales faiblesses du “mouvement vert”, qui avait suivi la réélection contestée de Mahmoud Ahmadinejad en juin 2009, était de n’avoir pas su rallier les classes populaires et de n’être pas sorti des grandes villes. Malgré la chape de plomb et les dizaines de milliers d’emprisonnements, M. Sazgara est convaincu qu’“Ali Khamenei a été délégitimé et le mouvement pour la démocratie se propage sous la peau de la société”.

Tout en redoutant une guerre aux effets désastreux, les participants à la conférence de l’UDI – 120 personnes venues de toute l’Europe, des Etats-Unis et de Turquie – parlent ouvertement d’un possible effondrement du régime, sous la pression conjuguée de l’Occident et du mécontentement socialintérieur. Ils veulent en voir les signes avant-coureurs dans la multiplication des grèves et des dissensions au sommet de l’Etat, où chacun se rejette la faute du fiasco économique et de l’isolement diplomatique.

“Il est de notre responsabilité de nous tenir prêts, explique Djavad Khadem, un autre organisateur, proche de l’ancien premier ministre assassiné, Chapour BakhtiarNous devons réfléchir à ce que sera la transition afin que le pays ne sombre pas dans le chaos. Nous essayons de dégager des points de consensus.”

L’UDI n’a ni charte ni instances. C’est un rassemblement informel, dont les participants, militants politiques ou intellectuels sans étiquette, sont invités àtitre personnel. De fait, presque toutes les sensibilités politiques sont représentées, à l’exception des royalistes purs et durs, des Moudjahidine du peuple et de la branche radicale du Parti communiste.

DES NATIONALISTES AUX KURDES, DES SOCIALISTES AUX LIBÉRAUX

Un tel éventail, qui s’étend des nationalistes aux Kurdes, des libéraux aux réformateurs, des capitalistes aux socialistes, est sans précédent dans les annales de l’opposition iranienne en exil, qui continue de se déchirer sur trois points essentiels : le niveau de centralisme de l’Etat, le degré de libéralisme ou de dirigisme dans l’économie et la place du religieux dans la politique.

“Si on ne se met pas d’accord sur les règles d’un dialogue, ces désaccords risquent de nous tuer, met en garde Shariar Ahy, l’un des fondateurs de l’UDI.En 2005, les Irakiens ont eu des élections totalement libres, cela ne les a pas empêchés de se massacrer ensuite.”

“Il y a ici des gens qui ne se parlaient pas il y a dix ans”, souligne la journaliste Sharan Tabari. Ainsi, Nasser Iranpour, un intellectuel kurde vivant enAllemagne, a exposé son projet d’Etat fédéral. A la sortie, un conférencier l’aborde : “Pour moi, le fédéralisme a toujours été synonyme de séparatisme. Aujourd’hui, je viens de comprendre que non.” “Seul le fédéralisme sauvera l’Iran”, renchérit Iranpour.

La question des minorités – Turcomans, Azéris, Arabes, Baloutches et Kurdes – est l’une des plus épineuses. Sans compter les cultes non reconnus par l’islam comme les bahaïs ou les yarsanis, qui s’estiment eux-mêmes opprimés par les nationalistes kurdes.

L’on a donc beaucoup discuté, au sein de studieux petits groupes de travail, de réformes constitutionnelles, de décentralisation et de fédéralisme, de politique économique et de statut de la femme, ou encore de la place de la culture et de la religion.

L’UDI VEUT SE METTRE EN MOUVEMENT AVANT LA PRÉSIDENTIELLE

Mais l’UDI ne veut pas seulement réfléchir à l’avenir, elle travaille à changer le présent en réfléchissant, par exemple, à la création d’une chaîne d’information par satellite sur le modèle d’Al-Jazira ou encore aux moyens de contourner la “grande muraille” que le régime tente de mettre en place pour isoler Internet. Des formations à l’action non violente sont envisagées.

Ces groupes de travail donnent parfois lieu à d’intéressants affrontements générationnels. “Quand j’entends des intellectuels remettre en question l’économie de marché, j’ai l’impression d’être face à des fossiles”, s’esclaffeAhmad Eshghyar, un jeune militant de 29 ans qui a participé à la campagne deMir Hossein Moussavi, candidat malheureux à la dernière présidentielle.

L’arrivée en exil de milliers de ces jeunes issus du “mouvement vert” a donné un second souffle à la diaspora politique tout en la bousculant. L’amalgame prendra-t-il ? L’UDI s’est fixé pour objectif de publier une charte et de se mettreen mouvement en février 2013, avant la présidentielle. Il faudra évidemment des moyens. Pour l’instant, la seule aide étrangère revendiquée par l’UDI provient du centre Olaf-Palme, en Suède.

Quand on fait remarquer aux organisateurs que l’opposition en exil n’a jamais eu beaucoup d’influence sur le cours de choses en Iran, M. Ahy répond du tac au tac : “Khomeiny venait bien de l’étranger quand il a pris le pouvoir !”

Signe que le régime de Téhéran commence à prendre l’UDI au sérieux, il a accusé ses participants, au lendemain de la réunion de Prague, d’être “des agents à la solde du Mossad et de la CIA”.

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The final communique

The Third Conference of the Unity for Democracy for Iran (UDI) held in Prague ended in the afternoon of 18th November 2012. The resolutions of the Conference were read and adopted by a majority of the participants.

The final communique read:

Iran is one of the few ancient civilizations that still remains firm in spite of various events. Throughout history, however, its geographical borders, inhabitants, religions and languages have changed. The country has also been repeatedly invaded but has not lost its independence.

Any of the above-mentioned incidents could alone send a nation to the pages of history forever. In this regards, the secret of Iran’s endurance is nothing but the civilization and the pluralistic culture of this ancient land. The quality of this civilization and its culture is the secret of the continuity of our history and its richness is the reason for our survival. Iran is today in one of its most critical historical phases. The ruling regime is characterised by excesses against the Iranian nation, hostility with our heritage and civilisation, dangerous foreign policies and adventurism, as well as cruelty, financial corruption and lack of management, all of which have put a dark future before us. It is predictable however that sooner or later the regime’s inability to control the economy will increase dissatisfaction and frustration in most parts of the society, and our national culture, will help us find a civilized manner of transition towards democracy.

We should beware that in these crucial days, it is possible that warmongers and believers in violence, both within the regime and the society, could succeed in exciting emotions and provoking anger and feelings of revenge that can lead to  conflict.

The awareness of men and women in our society of this deadly danger is a great source of inspiration. Reliance needs to be placed on the non-violent and peaceful aspects of our culture. Each of us has to responsibly struggle to determine our fate through dialogue and ballot boxes, and not in the fields of war or by killing compatriots.

We deserve to have the choice of tolerance against violence and reason against inhuman instincts and blind feelings. We have to try not to make mistakes once again in the path of transition to democracy in Iran. The future is ours and our culture will illuminate the way. We have to keep this light blazing before us so as not to lose our way.

Abedin, Karim  – Ahangari, Kawe – Ahmadi, Fereidon – Ahmadi, Ramin – Ahy, Shahriar – Akbarein, Mohammad J. – Alavi, Hossein – Alizadeh, Hossein – Alyar, Bakhtiar – Amiri, Jamshid – Amiri, Nooshabeh – Amirlatifi, Roya – Asadi, Houshang – Asadi, Jamshid – Askary , Hooman – Babak, Soheila – Bagherzadeh, Hossein – Bahardoost     , Shahla – Bahmani, Arash – Bahmani, Nahid – Bahrami, Esmat – Balidei, Nasser – Bandoei, Rahim – Barati, Mehran – Barlas, Faria – Bayazidi, Hamzeh – Behrang, Kamiar – Bouresh, Juma – Chalangi, Jamshid – Dejban, Samad – Ellian, Afshin – Emadi, Farhnaz – Eshghyar, Ahmad – Family, Shirin – Fari, Reza – Farid , Shahla – Fotovatti, Ali – Ghajar, Aida – Ghajar, Aria – Gharakhani, Nahid – Ghasemi, Akhtar – Ghasemi, Parvin – Hazeghazam, Mehdi – Heidary, Farhad – Hessaami, Aram – Hosseini, Nahid – Hosseini, Shaho – Hosseinbor, Reza – Hosseini nejad, Lida – Iranpour, Naser – Jahanbin, Roya – Javanmardi, Rahman – Jilow, Asghar – Kahen, Mojgan – Katami, Mohsen – Karimian, Akbar – Kazemi, Alireza – Khadem, Djavad – Khanjani, Bahman – Kharrazi , Mehadi – Khonjosh, Jamshid – Khosravi , Zagros – Khosrobeik , Maziar – Maghsoudnia, Manoocher – Massali, Hassan – Mehtari, Ebrahim – Mohammadi, Majid – Mohamadi, Mohamad – Mohamadi, Nasrin – Mohebbi, Fariba – Mohtadi, Abdulla – Mohtadi, Ali – Moradian, Azad – Mostafaei, Mohammad – Nekuee , Shervin – Nemati, Jamshid – Nourizadeh, Alireza – Parham, Ramin – Parviz , Mehdi – Pooraghaee, Sepideh – Qoraishy, Kawe – Rafat, Ahmad – Rafian, Dilan – Rashedan, Nima – Rezaei, Alireza – Riahi, Amin – Sadrolashrafi, Zia – Sajim, Faramarz – Salehzade, Ali – Salimi, Giti – Salimi, Mashalla – Saremi, Behnam – Sazgara, Mohsen – Sehati, Kourosh – Shohadei , Yazdan – Shahbazi, Susan – Shambaiati, Karim – Sharafi , Hassan – Sharafkandi, Golaleh – Shariatmadari, Hassan – Shirzad, Kaveh – Soleimani , Monireh – Tabari, Shahran – Taghizadeh, Reza – Taheripour, Jamshid – Talee, Javad – Tavakoli, Kianosh – Tavakoli , Zhale – Waziri , Mehdi – Waziri , Shahrokh – Zakeri, Mohsen – Zare zadeh, Ardeshir – Zarkesh, Fathie – Zolfaghari, Mehdi

Economic situation in Iran and the outcome of current procedures

The last panel of Prague Conference was held by the title of “economic situation in Iran and the outcome of current procedures: collapse or…?” dealing with economy. In this panel, moderated by Shahrokh Vaziri, the speakers were Reza Taghizadeh, Shahriyar Ahi, and Jamshid Asadi.

Shahriyar Ahi was the first lecturer of the last panel. In his opinion, the policy which leads to improve the economy is an appropriate policy. He said that the fluctuations of the legitimacy of the regime are equivalent to the fluctuations in economic diagram. He believes that the most important problem in inspiring confidence for investment is the fluctuations of economic indexes.

Reza Taghizadeh, the second lecturer, said that according to the non-official statistics, the industrial productions in Iran have reduced about 30%. The rate of inflation is about 25% as regards the non-official information, but in reality it reaches 50%. According to many observers, the current situation in Iran is equivalent to an “economic collapse”. He says that the regime still believes in a policy of “resistance economy”, but at the time when it feels the imminence of the economic collapse, it will certainly reconcile with the occidental countries, as happened in the resolution of 598.

Jamshid Asadi was the third and the last lecturer of this panel. He said that the lack of attention towards economy is one of the faults within the opposition. In his opinion, the economic decline of the Islamic regime had begun before the sanctions. He also said that the oil industry is the pillar of Iran’s economy, but at the moment, Iran’s production of oil is less than before the revolution.

The lecturers’ speeches will be later published in details.

Predefined speeches

On the second and last day of Prague Conference, some of the audience delivered predefined speeches. In the first speech, Kaveh Ahangari said that pluralism is one of the characteristics of Iran and requires its own administration. In his opinion, there is no balance of power among the ethnic communities in Iran. He believed that establishing democracy must be considered as strategy, not the elections. The collapse of the regime and holding free elections won’t necessarily lead to establishing democracy. It depends on the nature of individuals. When people are not democratic in nature, they cannot be united.

Majid Mohammadi, as the second speaker, pointed out that the regime has a crisis of confidence and the opposition has the same crisis but of another type. He believes that there is no ideology or political aspect that could inspire confidence in people. He said that people ask what program of improvement of real life the opposition has for them. He said that we can create think-tanks in this regard without any ideological orientations.

Mohsen Khatami, as the third speaker, talked about the high probability of war against Iran and said that the opposition doesn’t take it very seriously. He believes that if Khamenei continues the nuclear program, the war will certainly occur.

Alireza Noorizadeh, the fourth speaker, pointed out that the Islamic regime had thought that Arab Spring was the continuity of its revolution, but when it heard the anti-Shia slogans in Tahrir Square, it realized that the process of change begun in the region was totally different.

Mohammad Javad Akbarein, the fifth speaker, said that we think of establishing democracy because of the absence of a democratic regime and the sense of responsibility that we have. He enumerated some arguments that enforced the probability of war. He believes that the regime will eventually agree to negotiate with occidental countries to survive.

Golaleh Sharafkandi, as the sixth speaker, talked about the obstacles for the participation of women in political activities. She believes that the number of women participants will increase if we remove these obstacles.

Hossein Alizadeh, the seventh speaker, pointed out that the start point of the evolutions in the region was the post-election movement in Iran in 2009. But at the time that they are in Arab Spring, we are in Iranian Winter. The events in Iran had first influenced the events in Arab countries and now the current events in these countries are influencing Iran. He believes that the fourth wave of democracy has begun and we have to reach a unity to realize it.

The eighth speaker, Nasrin Mohammadi, a s the representative of Ahl-e Haqq, said that they, as a part of Kurd people, believe in having a common country as Iran. She also talked about this fact that women’s rights are defined by their loyalty to their families.

The lecturers’ speeches will be later published in details.

Finding solutions and presenting approaches for ethnic-national issues

The title of the third panel of the first day was “Finding solutions and presenting approaches for ethnic-national issues“. In this panel moderated by Shahla Farid, the lecturers were Hasan Sharafi, Mehran Barati, Abdollah Mohtadi, and Mashallah Salimi.

Shahla Farid insisted on “Iranian identity” and said that there are economic discriminations in different parts of Iran and we need approaches to fight against them.

Hasan Sharafi as the first lecturer said that the first and the most important question is to believe in democracy. He suggested that in holding free elections, there is no dialogue, but inviting one to accept the ideas of the other. He believed that Iran belongs to all Iranians and the diversity of ethnic groups is the structure of Iran.

The second lecturer of the third panel, Mehran Barati, said that the ethnic and national issues are very vast and there are many ambiguities that should be clarified.

Abdollah Mohtadi suggested a solution to create a political, democratic and secular system which will also be diffuse all around the country. He said there were discriminations and oppressions that have caused many direct victims among different ethnic communities. He added that there are many reasons who have contributed to the appearance of tyranny and weakening of democracy. And oppression has been one of these reasons.

Mashallah Salimi, the last speaker of this panel, said that apart from being trapped in the claws of a despotic religious regime, the country is also facing with other problems which have remained from the former regimes. The question of ethnic groups is the most important key to have a society without any violence and establish democracy in Iran.

The lecturers’ speeches will be later published in details.

The national dialogue, free elections and convergence of opposition forces

The title of the second panel of the first day of Prague Conference was “the national dialogue, free elections and convergence of opposition forces“. In this panel moderated by Nooshabeh Amiri, the lecturers were Hasan Shariatmadari, Shahryar Ahi, and Fereydoon Ahmadi.

Nooshabeh Amiri, as a journalist, paid tribute to journalist prisoners at the beginning of the talks.

The first lecturer, Hasan Shariatmadari, said that free elections as a requirement movement is different from free elections as a transition strategy. He added that the former one is in accordance with domestic rules, whereas the latter one is based on international laws and standards.

Shahriyar Ahi, the second lecturer, said that the discussion as a strategy for free elections is an important one. He added that the national dialogue is prior and more important than just holding free elections.

Fereydoon Ahmadi as the last lecturer of the second plan pointed out that the gathering of such a large spectrum of opposition is a step forward. He added that we have to reflect our voices in different Persian and occidental media. And we should also consider some ways to have relation with inside the country and not to be separate from it.

This panel was followed by questions and answers. Mohammad Mostafaie, an Iranian human rights lawyer, asked about the changes that constitution should undergo and said that no changes would be predictable on the basis of the current constitution. Hasan Shariatmadari replied that it will certainly be necessary that jurists and juridical elites compile a new constitution regarding the national values and historical backgrounds.

The lecturers’ speeches will be later published in details.

the perspective of political evolutions in Iran and the peaceful transition to democracy

The first panel of the first day of Prague Conference was held as “the perspective of political evolutions in Iran and the peaceful transition to democracy“. In this panel moderated by Shahran Tabari, the lecturers were Mohsen Sazgara, Hossein Alavi and Ahmad Eshghyar.

Mohsen Sazgara gave an image of the current crisis the country is facing with and pointed out the ways used by the Islamic regime to show that it will survive. He then enumerated the actions that the unity for democracy can take in order to attract the world’s attention and regarded the role of the media as essential.

Hossein Alavi began his speech by paying tribute to Sattar Beheshti, the last person killed for liberty of expression and all political and opinion prisoners in Iran. He said that the Islamic regime is trying to reach a consensus with International community as regards the nuclear program, because of the regime’s interests. He also added that there is a competition within the regime that which person could eventually begin the negotiations with the United States. He said that the social movements are the foundation of democratic ones.

Ahmad Eshghyar was the third lecturer of the first panel. He said that Iran is in difficult conditions that may be unprecedented after the 8-year war. In one hand, the regime violates more and more people’s obvious freedoms by the aid of its suppression apparatus. But on the other hand, there could be a historical occasion to change the structure of the Islamic Republic. He added that Ali Khamenei is now in his inconstant moments of political life. He suggested that the best moments for structure change are the periods just before and after the presidential elections by the presence of a candidate.

Shahran Tabari, the moderator of the first panel, said that in the last 34 years the Iranian people did know what they didn’t want, but they didn’t know what they wanted. We and all the political forces should try to clarify the demands and the wishes.

The lecturers’ speeches will be later published in details.

A report from Stockholm to Prague

Before the beginning of the round-table talks and the panels of the first day, Nahid Bahmani, as one of the members of the Holding Committee of Prague Conference, pointed out in a report what has come about from Stockholm to Prague. Bahmani expressed the hope that the conference will be again fruitful. “A year ago, in Olof Palme, we gathered with the presence of the less participants than today and we talked about the fundamental issues of democracy in Iran”, she said “issues like separation of religion from government, individual and social rights and freedoms, approval of conventions with principles of the international human rights and at the end there was a resolution signed by the absolute majority of the participants.” We came to this idea that why we don’t continue the conference as development of democratic dialogues between different theories and various schools of thought. Why don’t we provide the conditions in exile to create better groundwork for making close the ideas? All were committed to this idea. In the Brussels Conference we put more emphasis on the basics and we said that we should find ways and solutions to enhance them. A resolution was approved and the media reflection was great and every one, as participant or non-participant, was informed of that. This is the third conference with more intellectual and academic figures which is held in Prague and I hope this conference can take higher steps towards finding approaches and expansion of thoughts and democratic dialogues. But I would like to explain to the people who were not present that the obligatory presence at all costs was not our wish. The presence of different policies and principles and also the diversity of thoughts has been taken into account. In terms of gender, we tried to have the same number of women activists as men. And the young spectrum and those who have entered the Iranian political scene should also participate in this conference. We tried that different nationalities and different cultures participate and from the beginning we believe on what we say as Iran belongs to everyone. I don’t claim that our success was hundred percent, but there was an attempt to reach this objective and the diversity of ideas be respected. I believe that this conference has made progress in this regard.

 

I hope that clear suggestions and transparent opinions would help us to develop the basic issues and the problems that the Iranian society faces with in all political, cultural and social domains. I hope that we could see appropriate ideas and eventually implement them. Before the question “Where do these conferences lead to?” we should be able to gather a large number of people around the unity of construction for future of Iran and the process to establish democracy. And in accordance with joint transparent and honest agreements, we prepare ourselves for construction of Iran. At the moment we are in the political autumn and we have to play an important role in establishing future spring in Iran, and do what is not possible inside the country because of the extreme oppression and tyranny.

Fereydoon Ahmadi: dialogue, mutual understanding, and the unity for change

Fereydoon Ahmadi, the responsible of Holding Committee and the director of Prague Conference has replied to questions of “Prague Conference” website regarding this meeting.

What perspective do you have from Prague Conference and what do you expect from it?

The movements and the attempt which began in Stockholm conference were continued in Brussels and now on the eve of holding the third conference in Prague, I think it will follow three main goals: First, helping the expansion and settlement of the culture of dialogue about the most important issues, social challenges and risks that our country is faced with at a national level all around the country. Second, supporting and playing a role in creating a widespread understanding and a more or less general agreement on the path and the method of creating change and evolution in the country among all forces who want to establish democracy in Iran. In other words, we have to be on the same wavelength and reach an agreement that the final referee of the disputes and challenges will be the ballot box. Free elections based on the international standards and known guidelines is the same as the strategy groundwork and the axis of understanding that this movement has chosen and is trying for its part that this option would overcome in dialogues and be accepted by all effective political forces as the foundation of their cooperation.

The third goal is the creation of convergence and unity among opposition forces, and forces seeking to establish democracy in Iran. This is an attempt to try to form the unity for democracy, transition from the Islamic Republic, compiling the new constitution based on International Declaration of Human Rights, the separation of religion and government, and the elimination of any gender, ethnic, religious and cultural discrimination. The program of Prague Conference has been prepared for progressing in these three domains and it is expected that useful theoretical solutions would be found and specific practical steps would be taken in every one of these goals. Adopting approaches to make foundations for continuous collaboration among the participants of the conference in order to make “unity for democracy” is also one of the goals of holding this conference.

The “refusal of foreign military intervention and dangerous position of the Islamic Republic seeking adventures” is emphasized on the agenda of the conference. Please give more details the conference’s position in this regard.

This is part of the text that we went about in conference of Brussels and it was confirmed by the audience. I believe that opposing to the war and foreign military intervention against the country is a moral matter in general and it is as part of the public attitude of this movement regarding the establishing of democracy in the country. Relying on free elections for the people to choose their political fate and accepting free elections as the basis of political strategy for establishing democracy has the same meaning as opposing to the war, and violent strategies. The conference has never been silent towards the existing reality that has exposed our country to such horrible risks and has always condemned the dangerous attitude of the Islamic Republic seeking adventures.

Which progresses have been achieved from the time of Stockholm Conference to Prague Conference? Which difficulties have you overcome and which obstacles will you be confronted to?

Stockholm Conference was formed on a background, space and culture that had been brought about before it. But we can claim that in Stockholm Conference an achievement has been done. Bringing together very diverse spectra of activists from political, cultural and social space, with different tendencies and backgrounds, diverse political and ethnic concerns and various ages, and also reaching a collective agreement on the methods of the continuation of activities was not an insignificant achievement. But this movement was not without errors and fallacies in its continuity, and some of the errors and faults were avoidable. For instance, accepting limitations recommended by the host of Stockholm Conference, Olof Palme Institute, for the manner of presence of media and reporters, paved the way for a wave of undue attacks by the traditional opponents of such movements. However, these efforts to promote the unity for democracy has succeeded in reaching a level to stabilize itself as a strong and resounding voice in the political space of Iranian diaspora, and attracting the attention and the sympathy of a part of political society in Iran. It has showed that we, as Iranians, can be sympathetic and be on the same wavelength with one another. The unity for democracy has succeeded in attracting the international attention and sensitivity.

In all these arenas, many achievements should be done. The main issues before us are as follows: providing interlocutory and intellectual communications with inside the country; the development of the spectra accompanying these communications; gain the widespread confidence of cultural and political elites; and providing practical participation with accompanying spectra in the current activities of the “UDI”.

Which differences are there between the previous conferences and Prague Conference in terms of the subject?

Each conference completes the previous conferences and is the continuation of the former ones. Each conference passes on a particular political message according to its temporal position. In my estimation, the political message of Prague Conference can be a warning because of the grave and imbalanced situation in all areas of social life in our country and the perspective of economic collapse and probably the beginning of the political collapse and also other dangers threatening Iran: warning to the Iranian people about the dangers which threatens Iran’s fate and also warning to a part of the political activists inside and outside the country that it is now imperative and necessary to act due to the gravity and urgency of the situation. National massive challenges and perilous perspectives that could make the fate of the people and the country are predictable. At the moment, none of us should have a limited horizon of view and it is no more acceptable to swim in limited waters. The history will always punish the ones who have arrived late.

With which political-social forces does the conference have more common ground for convergence and formation of a larger group?

The issues and problems that our country is facing with invite all the Iranians, who want to establish democracy and reject the tyranny, to gather and accompany one another. By establishing this way, that is free elections, every person who introduces himself/herself as the defender of democracy, cannot officially oppose to it. Free elections with all its preconditions will make the possibility of the right of choice for all. So the spectrum of social-political forces that can support this wish and approach will be very extensive, varied, multi-core and pluralistic spectrum. “Unity for democracy” is the rival of no political grouping and party, because the domain of its activities on public issues is national, nationwide and beyond any political party. So each force that accepts the above-mentioned points will be along with this movement. In suitable conditions, we have to form the common committees to improve the ground for free elections.

The perspectives of the conference

Prior to the opening of “Prague Conference” (the third sitting of UDI: the Unity for Democracy for Iran), the members of the Holding Committee have explained the perspectives of the conference and have expressed their hope and expectations in this regard.

Shahriyar Ahy: One step closer to the Unity

The name of the conference is the “Unity for Democracy for Iran”. My hope and wish is that the Iranian elites will take, through this conference, one more step closer to the unity. In the current situation of Iran, if the elites don’t talk to people with consensus and unanimity about the most general issues of the country as democracy and human rights, the masses who get an intense hatred of the discordant voice of elites, will tend to listen to radicalists’ and agitators’ speeches, and this could finally create a very grave situation for the county.

For this reason, this is a duty and engagement for the elites to be close to one another. This is also the subject of our sitting. We don’t want to turn into a conventional political organization and create majority and minority groups.

We seek consensus about democracy and human rights issues as the most general ones. The structure which is resulted from this conference is not a conventional political and pyramidal structure; in fact we want to do a multi-core activity and hence different cores active for democracy and human rights will act around specific projects and cooperate with one another in order to provide the appropriate grounding for holding free elections, which is the practical outcome of democracy. More successful we will be in achieving these goals through workshops and panels that would be formed; more higher will be the level of success of Prague Conference.

Nahid Bahmani: Talk about the most important issues

It is nearly one year that the process of “advancing unity for democracy” in Iran has begun by holding conferences and besides, creating networks of political communications and dialogues has put forward the importance of unity within Iranian opposition in the form of an organized project. Prague Conference, as one of the programs of this project, tries to invite a considerable part of elites of political and civil movements to dialogues about the most important issues of the current society.

Each of these conferences was effective for its part. In “Olof Palme”, we insisted on basic principles of democracy in Iran. In “Brussels”, we tried to discuss and analyze concepts and proposed instructions to create democratic developments and evolutions in Iran. The logical expectation in “Prague” can also lead to finding practical ways to reach a greater consensus among different intellectual spectra of opposition and finally pave the way for more coordination and cooperation and form a powerful opposition pole. Even if Prague Conference fails to achieve this important objective, the future activities of this gathering will continue towards this goal.

Ramin Parham: Interlocutory and organizational maturity

The unity for democracy in Iran is a process which has begun since a year in its current form and content, and it will reach its interlocutory and organizational maturity stage in Prague Sitting. What is engraved on the horizon of the religious tyrannical system in Iran is eventually the economic, social and political collapse of Islamic system. In such conditions, the responsibility for organizing transition from dictatorship to free elections should be taken on by Iran’s political society and no other group. In the absence of such a society and in the lack of organizing the transition by Iranian civil and political elites, the gap due to the collapse will be filled by others.

So the unity for democracy in Iran, as a pluralistic and persistent movement, has a very serious responsibility. This unity should be able to lead to two political and economic approaches by creating networks within multiple layers of Iran’s civil and political society: free and fair elections under the control of international observers and reconstruction of Iran after the abolition of the Islamic Republic and its constitution. In this regard, the unity for democracy in Iran should be able to present a candidate in the next elections of Khordad 1392 (May 2013), even as a symbolic gesture, who will introduce himself as the interlocutor of Iranian society and the international and media community. Achieving this important objective needs a minimum organizing action. So I expect from Prague Conference to pave the way for organizing, compiling and presenting such a political program.

Javad Khadem: More solidarity

We have two subjects with titles of sympathy and solidarity. If we want to arrange the countries of the world like football matches in a league, Iranians will be among the first ten countries as regards the sympathy; but when it comes to solidarity, they are unfortunately among the ten last countries. The main reason for the continuation of these conferences is that sitting next to one another and making friendship may create political solidarity. I hope we will see more sign of this solidarity in Prague Conference. The second point is that we have a specific and declared program and hope that at the time of holding the second meeting in Stockholm, the “Unity for democracy in Iran” would have become an assembly being able to have the most effect on foreign and Persian media. I think, in this case, the people’s viewpoint inside Iran on the opposition outside the country will definitely change.

Mohsen Sazgara: Creating a widespread umbrella

My expectation from Prague Conference is that in the continuity of the conferences in Stockholm and Brussels, it would be able to find this time some practical approaches for free elections in Iran and some procedures for effective cooperation among the opposition towards realizing this project. In case of such success, we can hope that during the next meeting, the unity for democracy in Iran would be able to announce its existence as a widespread umbrella.

Mashallah Salimi: Establishing media for all

My expectations from Prague Conference in terms of politics are as follows: First, maintaining the spirit of cooperation based on mutual respect and emphasizing on commonalities of purpose. Second, emphasizing on the fact that the Islamic Republic is incorrigible and no Gorbatchev will appear in Iran. Third point, inviting people to imperatively overthrow the regime. Fourth, to approve a procedure based on intensifying our activities to create a political substitute for the Islamic Republic with the participation of various spectra.

In terms of organization: First, avoiding any declaration about independent organizations. Second, establishing a commission to examine issues concerning different ethnical communities and nationalities in Iran and find a solution to be presented to the conference of Stockholm. Third, the formation of a delegation to negotiate with other political movements in order to create a democracy front in Iran.

From the viewpoint of media, I expect from Prague Conference to establish a television that will represent our voice and all the Iranian citizens’.

Shahran Tabari: Respect to the opposition’s right of liberty

In my opinion, Prague Conference is the continuation of the effort which has begun one year ago to make close different political ideas to fight for the realization of a democratic government, based on the separation of religion and politics, and the respect to contents of International Declaration of Human Rights and its conventions. In the continuation of this effort, I expect from the Prague Conference to firstly regard the Iranian people as the final referee and decider through their conscious vote in free elections. Secondly, I expect that it practically show respect towards opposition’s right of liberty and defend it at all costs. Thirdly, it would accept the principle of transparency in political affairs and would remain committed to it. Fourth, to practically remain obliged to the principle of equality between men and women, Iranian different peoples, and various religions and sects. Fifth, to remain engaged to the principle of freedom and prosperity of cultures and different languages in the diverse Iranian society within the framework of the borders of the country and under the banner of common Iranian history and culture. Sixth, to remain committed to the principle of fight without violence.

Saeed Ghaseminejad: Preparing the ground

I expect from Prague Conference to be able to prepare the ground for the formation of a group that can act as a modern organization and be effective in Iran’s policy. My perspective is that this won’t happen even after the Prague Conference, because the Iranian opposition doesn’t still have the potentiality to do so. The lack of such potentiality will pose another important question before us: “if Iran’s opposition doesn’t still have such a potentiality, how can it replace the current government?” Even in case of the realization of such an assumption by chance, “will the result of the opposition’s rule be finally better than the current government?” So once again, these meetings must project this picture on the screen that there exists a force able to replace the current rulers and produce a better product. If Prague Conference can take a step towards this goal, I would consider it as a successful conference.

Nahid Hosseini: Making close different ideas

I expect from Prague Conference to make close different political tendencies within the opposition outside the country in order to get united around the slogan of free elections for a democratic future for our country and begin a certain practical cooperation in this regard to eventually convert it into an influential force inside the country.