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domingo, junio 28, 2009

Iran: It's Not Really Over


Maybe I've been distracted by other things: Michael Jackson, Gov. Sanford, Farrah, Ed McMahon, US v. Brazil, Honduras. I missed something about Iran.

I implied on Saturday that the Iran Revolution was in ashes, but that I hoped there was a fire under them. Then I disconnected from the story. I turned away. I assumed it really was over. Finished. But, thankfully, I was wrong. It's not really over. The demonstrations continued on Sunday. Despite the threats. Despite the arrests. Despite the violence. This movement has not succumbed to the brutality and violence.

AP reports on Sunday evening:
Several thousand protesters — some chanting "Where is my vote?" — clashed with riot police in Tehran on Sunday as Iran detained local employees of the British Embassy, escalating the regime's standoff with the West and earning it a stinging rebuke from the European Union.

Witnesses said riot police used tear gas and clubs to break up a crowd of up to 3,000 protesters who had gathered near north Tehran's Ghoba Mosque in the country's first major post-election unrest in four days.

Some described scenes of brutality, telling The Associated Press that some protesters suffered broken bones and alleging that police beat an elderly woman, prompting a screaming match with young demonstrators who then fought back.

The reports could not be independently verified because of tight restrictions imposed on journalists in Iran.
So, I was wrong. It's not over. The demonstrations are continuing. Smaller perhaps. But continuing.

Twitter about #iranelection has slowed down. But it's still constantly updated. And from what I'm reading, it's not over. It continues. It continues despite brutal repression.

It's dropped down on but not off the front page. The New York Times reports the Sunday demonstrations on page 1:
In spite of all the threats, the overwhelming show of force and the nighttime raids on private homes, protesters still flowed into the streets by the thousands on Sunday to demonstrate in support of Mr. Moussavi.

Mr. Moussavi, who has had little room to act but has refused to fold under government pressure, had earlier received a permit to hold a ceremony at the Ghoba mosque to honor Mohammad Beheshti, one of the founders of the 1979 revolution who died in a bombing on June 28, 1981, that killed dozens of officials. Mr. Moussavi used the anniversary as a pretense to call a demonstration, and by midday the streets outside the elaborately tiled mosque were filled with protesters, their arms jabbing the air, their fingers making a V symbol, for victory.

The demonstrators wore black, to mourn the 17 protesters killed by government-aligned forces, and chanted “Allah Akbar,” or God is great.

“There was a sea of people and the crowd stretched a long way onto the main street on Shariati,” said one witness, who remained anonymous because he feared retribution.

What started as a peaceful demonstration turned into a scene of violence and chaos by late Sunday, witnesses said.
So, it is not over. It may move down the front page. It may move off the front page. It may move off of this blog. But there was fire beneath the ashes, as we assumed, and this is not over. Not yet.

As I wrote before, we need to remember the demonstrators and continue in solidarity with them:

All we can do outside of Iran is bear witness as the struggle unfolds. And while we bear witness, we can continue to lift our voices as individuals (and not as a government) in solidarity with the demonstrators. And offer our thoughts and prayers* for a peaceful resolution. And find other, creative ways to support the struggle in Iran for democracy and freedom.

The Iranian Democracy movement is absolutely worthy of our personal (as opposed to governmental) support. Support and solidarity at this point require, indeed permit only the simplest of things. There are only simple things we can and should do:

Things like changing our location and time zone on Twitter to Tehran and GMT +3.5 hours. Things like making our avatar green. Things like reading the posts of those who are there. Things like posting and distributing their videos on youtube. Things like writing blogs and asking others to link arms with them in solidarity. Things like talking about what ideas we might have that could be of help to them. [Things like putting a green ribbon on docuDharma]

These are things that might be completely ineffective to help Iranians achieve democracy, to get a new, fair election, to overturn the sham outcome of their last election, to prevent governmental violence and repression. I realize that. But that's not what's important. That's not what's important now.

What's important, I think, is our continuing solidarity with this struggle, our saying, however we can say it, "Brothers and Sisters, we're with you. We want you to succeed. We want you to be safe, and free. We want you to obtain the change you seek."
Let's stand firm with the Iranian democracy movement. Let's not forget them. Let's remain focused.

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