Thursday, July 9, 2009

Makhmalbaf speaks about the future of Iran's democratic movement

by Julie Jigsawnovich

Today Iranian filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf spoke about Mir-Hossein Moussavi and Iran's democratic movement during a conference call hosted by The Huffington Post and the New York Chapter of Where Is My Vote.

Today marks the 10th Anniversary of the 1999 "18th of Tir" Protests in Iran, during which students protesting the closing of the reformist newspaper Salaam were attacked. Protests continued for six days, culminating with thousands of Iranians demonstrating for democracy and civil rights. At the time, it was the biggest display of popular discontent in the Islamic Republic's history.

Following is my live transcription of what Mohsen Makhmalbaf said through an interpreter during the call today. (I just received an audio file and will double check it against this, but believe this is pretty accurate.)

"Mir-Hossein Moussavi is under threats to his life right now.

[A human chain was made by Moussavi supporters in Tehran.] "In case Moussavi is imprisoned, we are prepared to think of Moussavi as one link in this chain. In case we lose him, the chain will not be lost. We will continue. We believe every Iranian inside Iran is a campaign supporter, and every Iranian outside Iran is an ambassador to this group. Participants in this movement do not need Moussavi's permission for their actions.

"I spoke yesterday at the European Parliament, asking them not to recognize Ahmadinejad as President. I demanded them to consider the nuclear and the democratic issue as one issue--not as two, because we are facing one dictator government in Iran. It's one and the same dictator that is torturing the people inside Iran, and the outside world--with its projects in trying to build a nuclear bomb.

"We ask the European Union to punish Nokia Siemens for selling spy equipment to the Iranian government.

"I want to ask world leaders or people that they should not accept the Iranian regime's propaganda about [hurting by helping.] We do need everybody's help, as part of humanity.

"If a hijacker takes the passengers hostage, will they consider it an internal fight--or will they help the passengers? Ahmadinejad and Khamenei have taken the Iranian people hostage. Will you sign oil treaties with this government, or will you side with the Iranian people and help fight injustice?

"Will Obama accept the military coup in Honduras? In Iran also, the previous president has held a coup against the current president.

"I think that the fate of democracy in Iran and the fate of the world are tied together. If they do not help the people of Iran, they will face threats by these dictators on the outside.

"Khamenei and Ahmadinejad are not liked by the Iranian people and do not have international support, therefore they will run towards the nuclear option. The only mistake the international community is making is giving Khamenei time. He is getting the time he needs to finalize his nuclear project.

"I just want to finish with a few lines about Obama. Obama has said there is no difference between Ahmadinejad and Moussavi. If so, there is no difference between Bush and Obama. Ahmadinejad has Hitler as his role model. Moussavi has Ghandi and Mandela as his role models. Iranian people cannot go abroad to ask Obama or Mandela to lead them. The world community cannot dictate which leaders Iranian people choose.

"Moussavi is an experienced politician, but Moussavi's art spirit dominates his politician's character. The main reason for this claim is 20 years of silence. He went back to his art career. His poetic and artistic spirit is very different from the murderous spirit of Ahmadinejad.

Iranian cinema was founded during Moussavi's Premiership, and backed by him. I'm a filmmaker who made several films that were openly critical of his government, and he is the one who was for these movies coming out and being seen. Movies were openly critical of his government, but he allowed them to be released.

"One day, with more time, I would like to tell people about Moussavi's character and tell people what an honorable character is leading this movement।"

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