Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Coalition building

If the crackdown on dissent is getting serious in Iran, the opposition is making noises like it may be getting serious. Then again...

Iran Reformist Tries to Enlist Labor and Teachers
The Iranian opposition leader Mir Hussein Moussavi released a video statement on Thursday calling on workers and teachers to join the reformist cause, in a bold new attempt to broaden and energize the country’s flagging protest movement.

The statement came as groups representing laborers and teachers called for demonstrations, and a labor coalition issued its own list of economic grievances to mark International Labor Day, on May 1, opposition Web sites reported...

In his video appeal, Mr. Moussavi said the challenges workers faced — low wages, inflation, economic mismanagement and the inability to create independent organizations — were also essential grievances of the Green movement, as the opposition calls itself.

He urged the creation of a united front against government malfeasance and injustice, and even linked President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s foreign policy to workers’ circumstances. “The government’s illogical actions have a direct effect on what the people of Iran can put on their table,” Mr. Moussavi said.

Workers’ and teachers’ groups have often demonstrated and issued grievances on Labor Day, but their cause has been distinct from that of the reformists, who — at least until last year — were led largely by students, intellectuals and former government officials. Ali Akbar Baghbani, the director of the largest Iranian teachers’ union, and Mohammad Beheshti Langaroudi, the union’s spokesman, were arrested and taken to Evin prison this week, according to the BBC’s Persian service. They were briefly imprisoned last year at this time…

So far, there are few signs that the opposition is regaining the confidence it had during the months after the election last June, when vast crowds of people took to the streets to declare Mr. Ahmadinejad’s landslide victory a fraud…

Iran’s conservatives are also divided, with some fiercely criticizing Mr. Ahmadinejad’s handling of economic issues and corruption. And for all its crowing about having crushed the opposition, the hard-line clerical elite has sounded some unusually anxious notes lately, suggesting a deep concern over the possibility of renewed protests…


Intimidation in Iran Keeps Protesters From Rally

A planned demonstration in which Iranian workers were to join reformists in an antigovernment protest failed to materialize on Saturday, apparently the result of intimidation and a large police presence.

Two Iranian opposition leaders, Mir Hussein Moussavi and Mehdi Karroubi, had called Thursday for workers and teachers to join the reformists in a broad-based coalition.

The call went unheeded on Saturday, analysts said, largely because of government intimidation.

But the lack of action may also reflect a failure of the opposition leaders to win over workers and teachers, who have their own grievances, to the antigovernment cause. And it raised questions about the ability of the opposition to mobilize a mass protest planned for June 12, the anniversary of Iran’s disputed presidential election…

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