National Peace Council–A Broad Coalition Opposing Military Confrontation
(4 September 2008) A group of leading civil society activists, intellectuals, lawyers, artists, and others in Iran have joined the National Peace Council to oppose military conflict over the nuclear crisis and to promote and protect human rights there.
“The establishment of the Council was urgently needed to let the world know Iranian peoples’ opinions,” Shirin Ebadi, the 2003 Nobel peace laureate told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. “We felt that, in the heat of political pandemonium, the true voices of Iranian people are not reaching the outside world.”The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran fully supports the goals of the Council. The Campaign opposes pre-emptive military action against Iran, because it would not solve the nuclear crisis but only exacerbate it, would destabilize the already volatile Persian Gulf region, and result in serious further deterioration of the human rights situation.
The Council’s members include well-known and nationally respected lawyers, writers, and artists as well as women’s, students’ and labor rights activists and representatives of ethnic minorities. The establishment of the Council provides a platform for civil society voices to express concerns regarding the international crisis facing Iran, and to offer principled, independent analysis and recommendations—a significant step given the deteriorating security situation and increasingly militant rhetoric from the region.
The idea for the establishment of the Council was originally offered by Shirin Ebadi, who formed the Provisional Peace Committee in November 2007. During the first meeting of the Council on 3 July 2008, 72 members launched the initiative.
According to Issa Saharkhiz, a member of the Council’s Executive Committee and a well-known journalist, the goals of the Council include: establishment, strengthening, and promotion of foundations for peace, human rights, and lasting development in Iran; rejection and prevention of any military, terrorist, or violent confrontation; the removal of the basis for any sanctions against Iran and preventing intensification of sanctions; and ending the prevailing situation of “no war-no peace.”
On 28 August 2008, 83 members of the National Peace Council met in Tehran to elect an Executive Committee and to articulate the group’s goals and mission. The fifteen elected members of the Executive Committee are: Hashem Aghajari, Babak Ahmadi, Habibollah Peyman, Jalal Jalalizadeh, Taqi Rahmani, Issa Saharkhiz, Abdolfatah Soltani, Hussein Shah Husseini, Seyd Ali Salehi, Keyvan Samimi, Abdollah Momeni, Hussein Mojahed, Narges Mohammadi, Bayazid Merdookhi, and Fatemeh Motamed-Arya. In addition, Ezatollah Sahabi, Abbas Abdi, and Davood Hermidas Bavand were elected as members of the Auditing Committee.
Excerpts from an article by Issa Saharkhiz, “A Movement in Affirmation of Peace,” published on 31 August 2008 by the online daily roozonline.com and translated by the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, follows. The original Persian text is available at: www.roozonline.com/archives/2008/08/post_8943.php
A Movement in Affirmation of Peace
The second important step for the operation of the “National Peace Council” was taken on 28 August 2008. More than 80 peace-seeking Iranians opposed to war, confrontation, and violence met, so that, as we near the 28th anniversary of the imposed [Iran-Iraq] war, various stratums of Iranian society once more let the world know that they are opposed, from the bottom of their hearts, to any warmongering actions and any other actions that may lead to confrontation and blood-letting. Instead, they welcome and cherish peace, security, and stability with all their being.
This is an important development, given the intensification of the crisis and as the UN Security Council is considering increasing economic sanctions on Iran. The Council’s nature is not to promote enmity and hostility, but to emphasize friendship and tolerance…
Although this message has been heard from the Iranian people and continues to be so, unfortunately, due to the government’s policies and the ruling elite, the world is hearing a different translation of it. As such they are judging it otherwise and warmongers in this world have found an opportunity and excuse to push forward their expansionist policies as they wish–policies that appear one day in discussions of limited or extensive military action by Israel or another day, in the form of military interference by the United States.
On the other hand, this side follows the unsuccessful model of the former Soviet Union, in pursuing an arms race and expanding arms factories, which leads at the least to depleting national resources. A large portion of resources and earnings from oil income and foreign reserve is spent on high-cost projects, with no returns for the nation. If such projects are for peaceful purposes, they are pushed forward at the expense of eliminating other urgent projects and programs…
The goals of the Council are:
- Establishment, strengthening, and promotion of foundations for peace, human rights, and lasting development in Iran;
- Rejection and prevention of any military, terrorist, or violent confrontation;
- Working towards removal of reasons for sanctions against Iran and preventing further intensification of sanctions;
- Ending the current situation of “no war-no peace.”
It also has an extensive mission, including:
- Efforts to end the current situation of confrontation and “no war-no peace” to reach durable peace;
- Promotion and strengthening of a culture of peace and human rights in Iran, rejecting violent and warmongering beliefs;
- Use of all available resources for the establishment and promotion of peace and human rights;
- Support of all peace-seeking individuals;
- Cooperation with peace-seeking groups worldwide to prevent the imposition of war on the Iranian people by either side of the conflict;
- Efforts to create cooperation among Iranian peace-seeking social forces, opposition to domestic and foreign warmongers.