Sam Ghandchiسام قندچي Towards Constitutional Congresses for Iran
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Separation of a considerable part of Iran's representatives of Sixth parliament (majles) from the election of seventh parliament, more than any other time, is showing how the 1979 Revolution, Referendum, and the Assembly of Experts of Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI), had created a constitution and a regime that even its own creators, cannot achieve the simplest democratic principle of removing those that the people do not want, and instead, they themselves are eliminated from the election process. 


Mr. Kadivar has said that the "Constitutional Revolution's parliament became a coercive one after its seventh parliament".  Of course it should not be unsaid that if in this election of seventh parliament of IRI, the fight is about the eligibility of reformist Islamist candidates, the IRI parliament from start was by command, and the idol of IRI reformists, Ayatollah Khomeini, with his own personal order, stopped Ghasemloo who was the elected representative of first IRI parliament, from sitting in parliament, and later Ghasemloo was murdered by IRI agents in Europe.


Today many people talk of referendum.  I also believe that if there was one or more new constitutions at hand, to put them on a referendum could open the way for the future development of Iran.  But my understanding of reality is different.  In my opinion even the gatherings of Iranian supporters of a new republic has failed, because of the lack of clarity of people's demands in the area of future constitution, and not because of personal issues.  It is true that when the movement gets momentum, a number of people who are looking for position and money also become active, but this by itself does not cause failures, and also the reverse, finding the best individuals cannot make these efforts successful either, unless these efforts are accompanied with a clear vision of future constitution.


For example, in the opinion of Mr. Reza Pahlavi, referendum is essentially not about a new constitution, and referendum in his eyes is for the purpose of choosing between monarchy and republic.  Therefore if the monarchy gets the votes, its constitution can be the same as the constitution of Mohammad Reza Shah. From the view of other monarchists, the future monarchy of Iran should be like the monarchy of Sweden.  In other words, just like the republicans, the unclear understanding of constitutional issues, is the reason for the failures of monarchist efforts.  I even had suggested in the past that if Reza Pahlavi abdicates from the throne, to take the initiative for a constitutional gathering abroad.  My reason was that the issue of constitution and making it broadbased is the key to ensure democracy in future Iran and not one individual or another.


The issue of constitution is not that a few experts sit down and write something like Koran and people just go and vote for it.  It is true that not everyone can write a constitution, but everyone can read it, and can analyze its consequences for their own life, and not wait to fall under a new dictatorship, and again for 25 years to try to overthrow the result of their own sacrifices.  Of course at the end of the process, all will vote for the constitution that will be placed on a referendum, but that is just the formality of the end of the process.  The start of work should be in every corner.  What do I mean by that?


In my opinion, in every city and village, region or province, and also in every Iranian community abroad, constitutional societies should get formed and various ideal constitution plans should be discussed in those gatherings.  It is true that lawyers and intellectuals will have the main role in preparing the plans, but the ordinary people can evaluate any plan with respect to their own experiences of the last 25 years and also with respect to the experiences of the Shah's regime before that, and the congresses to decide on various constitutions can be convened inside and outside Iran, and the votes for each plan can be reported.  The final results can be announced and a nation wide congress can be convened to approve the final draft and then place it on a national referendum.


Even it is possible that the local congresses continue to exists after the approval of the constitution to ensure the lasting of Iran's future democracy.  It cannot be predicted from now and it depends on how the above processes make progress and also on how the final approved constitution ends up to be.


What is important is that this process can be an important system of checks and balances to prevent those who want to misuse the current events for their goal of position and money, and it can help the objectives of freedom, justice, and progress for Iran.


Iran of today is not the United States of the times of Abraham Lincoln, that with an anti-slavery amendment to its constitution, it can be fixed. Our Iran is not South Africa, that by eliminating apartheid in its constitution, one could arrive at a progressive constitution.  IRI constitution written by Assembly of Experts of 1979 Revolution is a retrogressive document which is anti-secular, anti-democratic, anti-justice, and anti-federalist and it should be essentially thrown away, and a modern constitution should be written in its place.  The main reason for the lack of success of the IRI parliaments has not been this or that state organ, but the whole structure that was formed 25 years ago by mollah's Assembly of Experts, was not a reflection of endeavors of people, lawyers, and intellectuals, but was an assembly coerced on our people by Islamists with Khomeini at its top.


The recent gathering of Iranian republicans in Berlin, and similar gatherings all these years, showed that without doing the grass root fundamental tasks noted above, these gatherings of chiefs will not be fruitful, and every time it is the repetition of the same failed experiences, but with a new list of names.  The problem is not individuals and their personal issues is nobody's business.  Also true that with respect to political issues, there are exaggerations and understatements by various individuals, which impacts trust, but these are not the main reason for failures.  The problem is that the work should be done from the foundation. and although shortcuts seem faster, but they lose steam quickly, and  complains about this and that individual will start, and a new group will gather, but the same old result will occur.  A substantial work takes longer and harder efforts, but it will give more reasonable results.


We all the people should take initiative and not wait for any political figure or foreign government to do it for us, and wherever we are, we should start constitutional societies, and the Internet technology also is very helpful in this respect, to help us learn form experiences of various areas of Iran, Iranians abroad, and other people.  Each one of us should work on the constitution and should not wait for others to do it, and if tomorrow we make a system that even its creators escape from it, we should not blame anyone but ourselves.


For discussions of Iran's Future Constitution, please visit the Bulletin Board of Jebhe Melli of Washington DC at the following URL:


Hoping for a democratic and secular futurist republic in Iran,


Sam Ghandchi

February 11, 2004










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