Iran Opposition Leader, Mir Hossein Mousavi, and his wife, Zahra Rahnavard, have both put out messages to the Iranian people for Nowruz, the Persian New Year.

Here are the videos. Khordaad88 has provided English translations of the original speech (see below the videos).


In the name of God, the Compassionate and the Merciful,

The unified caravan of martyrs

I wish all of our people a Happy New year, as we approach the green spring and this national holiday. I will especially make note of the families of those who lost their lives while defending our independence during the [Iran-Iraq] war, the veterans, the injured, and those who suffered in any way. I should also mention the martyrs and those injured in 1388, [1][the year that is coming to an end], since I see their fate as connected to that of the war-time martyrs; they are all a apart of the caravan of martyrs that our country has produced over the course of history. If we have a proud country and a free nation today, it is due to their suffering and sacrifices.

Congratulating Iranians both inside Iran and abroad; [all] Iranians with a common identity

I should also pass on good wishes to Iranians from various groups, tribes, ethnicities, cultures and [political] parties; all of our people. This year, I would particularly like to mention our countrymen living abroad. Today, our people are united, and this is one of the blessings of the Green Movement. It has become so extensive, that there are people on the other side of the globe who identify themselves with the rich Iranian and Islamic cultures, strive for the glory and development of Iran and the Revolution, and try to concern themselves with the fate of their country. This is particularly true among our youth, be it inside Iran or abroad, who have sacrificed the most and who have experienced the most damage [in the events of the past year].

We should help and comfort the families who have experienced loss

As far as I have heard, the third and fourth generations of Iranians living abroad are as active as the youth inside Iran, and I would like to use this opportunity to wish a Happy New Year to them as well. The families of the martyrs and the injured have had a crucial role in our movement; our people should stay alongside these families and comfort them, particularly in these first few days of festivities.

The year that has passed

The passing year has been a special one for us all. Our people witnessed a great deal of energy and excitement in the days leading up to the election, and the beauty of it was the love and unity that you saw between people of different backgrounds and political inclinations. The election could have turned into a great festival for our people and initiated a new movement in the history of our nation. It was this movement that lead to very high voter turnout, with which you demonstrated your resolve to see [progress], change, independence, [and the authority of] freedom and justice. But, your active presence in the election was met with a reaction that prompted you to go to the streets with the common question: “Where is my vote?” The roots of this reaction go back to June 12, [election day]. It was not even 5PM when one of my main campaign headquarters was attacked. By 8PM, my central headquarters was also attacked and, before being published the next morning, the main Kalemeh Sabz [2] headline was changed several times on orders from intelligence officials.

A response by the government unworthy of the dignity of our nation

The lack of a proper and Islamic response to the elections by the government created a negative image in the minds of our people and as a result was the root cause of many of the events that occurred in our country. The response [by the government] to the protests was not befitting of the grandeur, liberty and pride associated with our nation. The crimes at Kahrizak prison, the atrocities at the student dormitories, the killings on the 30th of Khordad, even the 25th of Khordad and the events that followed, such as on the day of Ashura, took the people of our country by surprise.

If the challenges were political in nature, then they should have been resolved through political channels with convincing explanations to our people. This was however not the case and the responses were unfortunately also not satisfying. One of the most significant days was the 25th of Khordad when our people took to the streets in masses, transforming this day into a decisive moment in the history of our nation and a testament to the high spirit of our nation days after the elections.

What did our people desire?

Our people while chanting national and Islamic slogans came out to the streets, without creating any tension, to declare their point of view and cast their vote. We expected a [the government’s] response tailored to meet the gentle spirit of our people, unfortunately, we however, witnessed a much different type of response in the events that followed which only further complicated matters.

On the 22nd of Khordad the people of Iran participated in the elections in order to determine their destiny and define the direction of their future. The events that followed the elections, however, turned into an eye opening experience for our people and our country. Our nation discovered major discrepancies and glitches that lead to the formation of a broad spectrum of new demands. These demands began with a request for a referendum on open and fair elections, and later extended to other areas. The Green movement resulted in uniting people behind the fact that all matters should be dealt with in the framework of the Constitution and this became a slogan widely accepted by the majority.

Ignoring parts of the Constitution is tantamount to rendering it meaningless

The truth is, this slogan is of significant importance to the destiny of our nation. The Constitution is a national covenant, without which there is no unity and only chaos and darkness. It consists of a set of contiguous articles and as such, ignoring or weakening one section only leads to rendering it meaningless and void in its entirety.

One must look at the constitution as a whole. When the constitution was first written, those involved in its inception, wrote an important introduction designed to protect the integrity and continuity of the law. The articles emphasize a set of values, aspirations and demands that are integral to the constitution and cannot be separated. Now that our people have witnessed the judiciary, political, electoral, etc. problems they realize more than ever that the path to a bright future is returning to the foundation defined by our constitution, without any interference by the various political factions.

Withdrawing our demands of unconditional execution of the Constitution is an act of treason for Iran and for Islam. This is a demand that we will not abandon.

If an article in the Constitution is erroneous, the way to fix it is clear. We must amend the Constitution in accordance with public opinion and the recent state of affairs. [As of now], we do not have a free media or the freedoms outlined in the constitution. We lack free elections, where candidates are not cherry-picked, and fair competition. We do not have rights that protect the people’s privacy; rights that prevent some from searching through personal letters with self-serving ‘justification’. How can we assume to have a working system and solve our problems while the national course of action taken is against the Constitution?

We are facing many issues and difficulties in this New Year. Some of them relate to the shape that our demands are going to take. And these are rightful demands. They are a way to achieve national greatness and are a salvation for all parties on the path of developing our nation. We will persevere with these demands, and, accordingly, the coming year will be [known as] the year of persistence. We do not have the right to turn away from them. Any distraction would be an act of treason for the nation, for Islam and for the blood of our martyrs. Our Constitution was created in a sea of martyred blood. It is not something that we can lose easily and we must all return to [its principles].

Among all other things, I wish that the executive branch was at least proficient.

Besides this problem, there are others too; problems that existed before, but which are going to intensify this year, although I am wishing against it. Economic prospects for the future are not good. I am not pleased with this situation. I wish that despite all our issues, we would have seen an outlook to solve these [non-political] troubles. But that was not so. Forecasts of economic growth for the coming year are poor. First, in addition to drops in investment, this would mean greater instances of unemployment and extensive and increasing poverty. Our middle-class is shrinking more and more as we face these problems. Second, our current [international] standing is not a pleasant one due to ambiguous policies, as well as an adventurous and inept approach [to foreign policy]. Looming upon us is a threatening situation. We have the worst possible international relations and foreign policy, and it seems that with greater sanctions we should expect [more economic pressure].

The Green Movement must expand its reach.

Faced with such a situation, the Green Movement must expand its reach to all segments of society. The Green Movement must revive the timeless social and Islamic principle of inclusion. We must lend a hand to neighbors and neighborhoods both near and far, through job creation and other forms of interaction.

Let us live more modestly; let us help our fellow men and women; let us reduce the weight of people’s problems

Let us make our lives more modest and, by foregoing unnecessary formalities, make more room to think about how to reduce the load of problems that people appear to have. Let us help and attend to the families of the martyrs and those who have been injured—the just prophet looks favorably upon spending time with these families. Moreover, doing this will rekindle the nation’s hope.

The path that we cannot avoid

I believe that the path to realizing the greatness of our nation follows this route and, without a doubt, the nation understands that there is no other alternative. Thus, the nation is hopeful in following this path. God-willing, we will reach our distinct goals, since our demands are not extravagant by any standards. We demand a fair and healthy election—an election where being on the ticket does not imply having been vetted and selected by a few in power. That kind of election—the kind that we have been having up until now—does not reflect the appropriate respect towards a nation as dignified as Iran. The Iranian nation is great, progressive, and civilized. It should not be treated like a nation of uncivilized, ignorant people, for whom matters need to be decided because they cannot be trusted to run their own affairs and choose their own government properly. I ask that the government respect freedom of speech and freedom of the press so that the nation’s thoughts and ideas are able to flow freely and publicly. I am certain that the manifestation of these thoughts will be Islamic. Only then will we see a productive and progressive Iran brimming with justice and freedom. We must not be afraid to allow this to happen. In fact, we must truly fear the consequences of not allowing this to happen. We must truly be afraid of turning our backs on the demands of the people.

I will finish with a prayer from Imam Khomeini—a prayer that is relevant to our situation today:

O Lord, be watchful of our martyrs and let them rest close to your kindness and compassion. Heal our injured and our dead, and lead those who have been captured by the enemy back to the bleeding hearts of their families. O Lord, in your kindness, grant us patience and success.


Zahra Rahnavard:

In the name of God, the Compassionate and the Merciful,

We wish our countrymen, inside and outside the country, no matter where they may be, a happy Norouz. Norouz, this ancient, eternal holiday.

[new year prayer] O savior of hearts and sights, guide of night and day, you who can transform our being, transform me to the very best.

How strange that this ancient ceremony has been so elegantly woven with an Islamic narrative, and not only with a beautiful Islamic narrative, but with the modern society we live in today, and at a time when the green movement has engraved its own beautiful signature on it.

Transform me to the very best is the very wish of the green movement. The green movement wants to work for the betterment of its own condition, and the circumstances of its nation. And evolution in any effort is a beautiful symmetry. The green movement is not a movement that works to overthrow. It is a movement that seeks evolution, an evolution from the status quo to a better circumstance. But allow Hafez to light the way, and let us use the trust we have in him every day of our lives:

To thy complain, love reacheth, if like Hafez
Thou recite the Koran with the fourteen traditions

These fourteen traditions, of which Hafez speaks, and has united with love, tells us that it is something in which we can trust. It is not fortune telling, I don’t believe in fortune telling, and the Holy Koran states: “you are what you are” – do not put the responsibility on someone else’s shoulders. Rather, we take inspiration from him:

Arrived the glad tidings that grief’s time shall not remain:
Like that remained not; like this shall not remain.

Although, I am, in the Beloved’s sight, become dusty and despicable;
Honored like this, the watcher shall not remain.

Since the veil-holder striketh all with the sword,
Dweller of the sacred territory, a person shall not remain.

Of the picture, good or bad, is what room for thanks or for lament
When, on the page of existence, the writing shall not remain?

O candle! reckon union with the moth of a great gain;
For till dawn, this commerce shall not remain*

Dear Hafez, who is our trusted guide on those cold, winter nights and in celebrations, when we are pained and sad and when we are joyous, who “to our complain, love reacheth” – we are encouraged to love one another. We have said before too that the green movement is an enemy to no one, it only has a vision and a demand.

In the midst of the new year, we want a return of freedom to our country. We want the rule of law, which has been, in its modern form, a human effort of the past few centuries, to return to our country.

We want deceit and darkness to end, we want an end to discrimination, be it class discrimination, financial, cultural or discrimination against women. We want respect for personal freedoms, and this doesn’t mean we do not pay heed to the collective and its concerns, but that we believe the individual too has a right. And usually, in highly ideological systems, the individual is not allowed to have an opinion or desire of his own. But this is what the green movement is asking for.

Our people are the very creators of the green movement. The green movement is not like a library where a few books have been placed. The green movement is the very people and their visions. We are all together, we are countless. Our country, in terms of ethnicity, language and geopolitics is one of the most complex. But we thank god for the Koran which states: let’s respect this reality – which states that if there are numerous tribes and clans, they should make an effort to get to know one another. Color and language, they are holy. They are signs of god. This plurality is indeed quite beautiful.

The Green Movement is a collection of other movements such as the workers’ movement, teachers’ movement, women’s movement and others. It is also an assembly of different social and professional sects such as artists, athletes, human right supporters that includes all of us in the movement — this unifies us all — as well as other groups. The Green Movement is like a prism that focuses the light shone by every Iranian star — every citizen of this country — on a beautiful canvass that is the Iranian society. The Green Movement demands freedom, it demands change from the current state of affair in realization of greater Islamic morals. The Green Movement is benign, not violent. We don’t want to stress the old saying that says: “You can’t penetrate a solid rock with an iron nail”. Rather we want to go beyond such mentality. We want to say that in this story, there is no solid rock or iron nail – just citizens of this nation, calmly moving forward. I also want to wish our people and the establishment success in realizing the higher ideals.

I would also like to talk about women. The highest ideals for women are freedom and putting an end to discrimination. This is not only specific to women of Iran , it is an ideal women across the world struggle for . In certain countries [women] have had more success [ in removing discrimination] but we have not been successful . This is a reality. I have always said that the Islamic Revolution is an incomplete project. We were hopeful that the great ideals of Islamic Revolution and its great leader Imam Khomeini would substantiate in the Islamic Republic. Since the revolution succeeded very quickly we expected ideals such as freedom, rule of law, equality, public welfare, eliminating class discrimination and others will be realized in Islamic republic. But it did not happen. Pursuing these very same ideals particularly women issues is the goal of green movement. Our women suffer numerous discriminations such as legal, cultural and so on.

Some imagine that when the subject of ending discrimination and seeking equality comes up for discussion that [gender] roles are forgotten, that we are talking about a violent society of a Stalinist sort, where everyone acts in the same way, where heads are cut off so that everyone can be the same size as everyone else. This is not at all what I am talking about. The Green Movement recognizes these roles. Not only the Green Movement but all anti-discrimination activism across the world knows and recognizes these roles. It is not the case that in the Green Movement when we talk of ending discrimination, we forget kindness, the qualities of motherhood, creating love, bringing into being passion and excitement, the continuation of human life. In fact, ending discrimination means we want to make use of our religious teachings and customs in a certain way as far as women are concerned. Like sweet basil, not in a heroic manner. What I mean is that we should behave with kindness and in an enlightened manner, not try to be heroes in the way we act.

Of course what I mean by “hero” here is not the meaning it has in our Persian literature; here its meaning is [to act] angrily and violently. Wherever there is discrimination, the odour of sweet basil is taken captive by this angry heroism. That is to say the anger and excesses that the culture or a [particular] system is liable to bring to bear on it. We are in fact pursuing this matter very seriously alongside the [other] ideals of the Green Movement, so that we can separate the bestowal of freedom on women from the areas of authority in which it is currently entrenched (whether these be legal or otherwise) and we can then raise women to the dignity and status that they have in all the noble and valued cultures of the world, including our own beloved Islam. And we want to raise women to that dignity both from a cultural and from a legal perspective.

Finally I would like to congratulate all those fine human beings who have, at a high cost, preserved the great revolution, brought about victory in the Imposed War [with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and his Western backers], and who have bestowed nobility on the Green Movement. I would like to congratulate most humbly the families of those in prison, the families of all the martyrs fallen in the history of Iran, especially during the last thirty years. I hope that the prisoners are free and that they are able to sit beside their families and their ‘Haft Seen’ (Seven ‘s’s) tables at the New Year celebrations. I hope that they alongside their families beside the Haft Seen table they bind the different ‘s’s in an eternally green chain made up of the green shoots of the Green Movement: besides the seven splendid ‘s’s, the ‘s’s of pride (sarfarazi), happiness (saadat), health (salamat) and other wonderful ‘s’s. And we are without number, we are together, we stand firm.

The Green Movement has paid a high price and stood firm in defense of its ideals. Ultimately these are the ideals we want, these are the demands that must be realized. It is not important who puts this into practice, what is important is that these ideals be realized with pride, these ideals that are the very same ideals of the great Islamic Revolution. I know that this will come about and I hope that all of us will find contentment and happiness.