Kaleme reports that Mehdi Karoubi has issued an open letter commemorating Teachers’ Day and International Workers’ Day. In the same text he criticized the country’s state of affairs both culturally and economically, by asking: “Is the militarization of the economy that is proposed under Article 44 of the Islamic Constitution [an article that encourages the privatization of government-owned companies] really for the benefit of our workers?”
The text of his letter is as follows:
In the name of God, the Merciful and the Compassionate,
Great and noble nation of Iran,
I offer my sincere condolences to all followers of Prophet Mohammad and the thirteen Saints on the anniversary of Fatima Zahra’s martyrdom – [the martyrdom of] that great and exemplary woman. We now commemorate the important political, cultural, and social roles embodied by [laborers and teachers]. These groups of learned individuals have played a critical role in the Islamic Revolution, the eight-year imposed war, the post-war era of reconstruction, and in general by raising social levels of awareness, both in terms of science and otherwise.
I believe it is essential to now make a few points regarding International Workers’ Day and Teachers’ Day.
International Workers’ Day reminds us of the endless perseverance of those whose rights have been continuously overlooked by the rich and powerful. The continued determination of workers and intellectuals resulted in the recognition of workers rights and later, with international cooperation, governments created laws and regulations to preserve them. Workers have always been regarded highly in Islam. All the people and officials must rise to ensure that the rights of this hardworking and devoted group that spends so much energy to fuel the nation’s manufacturing and agriculture sectors are respected. The achievement of these goals can only be done by adopting appropriate social and economic policies that would stimulate the economy and create jobs for everyone who is qualified without discriminating based beliefs or ethnicity. [Only] in such conditions will we witness full-scale national growth.
We can be sure that fighting [scientific progress], pursuing inept policies that have no scientific backing, embracing actions that are based on preference and not on hard facts, and implementing decisions that are made overnight without careful scrutiny, destroys the motivation of workers, manufacturers, people in general and investors in particular. This behaviour also squanders our natural resources and human capital. Autocratic economic policies, careless decision-making, negligence, and utter disregard for the milestones and methodologies of the 20-year Economic Outlook Plan have had an unfortunate outcome: uncontrollable inflation, the destruction of our agriculture sector, significant industrial decline, and overall economic ruin.
In our current situation, where false polls and ignorance are so prevalent, the highest-ranking official states – contrary to all official statistics as well as the people’s perception of daily life – that “national activities have increased more this year than in all of the previous 25 years,” and that “the country has transformed into a big manufacturing plant where work is done on every corner.” This year, [in fact], everyone knows about the drama that has overtaken all national projects, despite gigantic oil revenues upwards of 400 billion dollars. Everyone can feel what the job market is like; what unemployment is like. They know about the decline in internal and foreign investments. They know who our trading partners are. The absolute economic principles of competition and free trade have been replaced with other doctrines that dedicate resources only to specific groups. Would militarizing the economy not be in contradiction to Article 44 of the Constitution, and parallel to long term policies for the future outlook of our country? Can we even discuss labor rights when our economy is engulfed by the military in direct contradiction of the Constitution? This [not only presents a bleak outlook] for the country, it is also directly opposed to the principles of life preservation. These methods endanger the professional future of our laborers.
I, along with other reformists, consider defending the rights of farmers and laborers to be our main goals. We are against any pressure and injustice directed towards this large social faction. We disagree with the existence of a group that operates like a ghost, making all of the decisions in a welfare economy. [Changing] the current circumstances would require a commitment to the principle of respect. In addition, it would require a pledge to follow international rules and delineate the roles of labor groups inside the country. Job security, political freedom, support for labor unions and competent committees, and the removal of restrictive regulations are among the fundamental rights that this large social group [is entitled to].
To commemorate Teachers’ Day:
[This holiday] is in memory of the martyrdom of the great teacher of the Revolution, Ayatollah Motahari. He was a free man whose abundance of knowledge and open wisdom introduced new depths to the religious and scientific culture of the Islamic Republic. I am proud to say that I carried the title of teacher during the days leading to the Revolution, and I am very in touch with the problems of this wise but oppressed group.
The teachers of this society are a unique and exemplary class, which nurtures future generations with its capable hands.
It does not suffice to pay respects to teachers by merely commemorating this day through some formalities. Proper respects are paid via reverence for their thoughts, their votes, their open society that permits the free expression of opinions and by attending to their routine and other non-mundane needs.
As we approach this great today, a large collection of teachers who should be attending to our children are in prison for ‘crimes’ accusing them of thinking freely and expressing their opinions. One of these dear teachers is Mr. Davari, who has been illegally detained for eight months and is under pressure. Mr. Davari and many others like him who are members of this large and wise group are among those who try to revive the people’s rights. They are paying the price for what they did. I consider showing appreciation for teachers to be a duty and hope that the officials in the Judiciary put an end to all illegal cases [and detainments] as soon as possible.
I believe that the solution to the country’s current problems – cultural, economic, and so on – is in the Constitution. The Constitution of the Islamic Republic is a great legacy of the great Imam [Khomeini] and our honourable martyrs. Our high ranking officials, including the president and the people’s representatives in Parliament have vowed to protect and execute [the tenets of] this Constitution. Is it not true that according to various articles in the Constitution, the executive branch has to commit to freedom, prosperity, justice and raising awareness among other things by using all the resources available? Why is it that so many of the articles outlined in the Constitution are ignored? Why do we stab our Constitution through the heart by enforcing incorrect and juvenile readings?
The only solution to the current crises is a return to the Constitution by making sure that everyone abides by it. The solution is in the maxim that no one views themselves as above the law; that no one thinks of breaking the law under any circumstances and being allowed to get away with it.
— Mehdi Karoubi
April 30, 2010