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miércoles, junio 17, 2009

Iran: Here Comes The Backlash


Wednesday evening in the US. Thursday morning in Iran. The demonstrations continue throughout Iran, but there's ominous news. Again. The New York Times reports:

Iranians angry at the results of last week’s election pushed their protest forward on Wednesday, from tens of thousands who again flooded the streets here to six soccer players on the national team who wore opposition green wristbands at a World Cup qualifying game.

But there were signs of an intensified crackdown: The government worked on many fronts to shield the outside world’s view of the unrest, banning coverage of the demonstrations, arresting journalists, threatening bloggers and trying to block Web sites like Facebook and Twitter, which have become vital outlets for information about the rising confrontation here.

The senior prosecutor in the central province of Isfahan, where there have also been tense demonstrations, went so far as to say protesters could be executed under Islamic law.

If you read the Twitter posts to #iranelection you see that Iran's government is trying mightily to suppress communication. Foreign journalists have been forced to leave the country. Writers have been arrested. A photographer was stabbed. Cell phone service is sporadic. The Internet has been slowed. Disinformation and stalking abounds. Arrests of bloggers and university students are common. Violence continues in the streets. Many have been killed and injured. And many more have been threatened.

Despite all of this, defiance of the government continues. Twitter posts from Iran continue to describe the demonstrations. Six members of the Iranian football team wore green wrist bands for the first half of today's game in protest. Youtube is filled with photos of the massive, non-violent demonstrations by the pro-democracy opposition and the repressive violence of the government and its thugs.

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. As I said yesterday. 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.

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. I realize that. But that's not what's important. That's not what's important now.

What's important, I think, is our solidarity with their 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."

I am full of admiration for the courage of the Iranian movement. I applaud and support these people. Please join me in solidarity with them. Sign the available petitions. Take the small steps. It'll make you feel great. And it's the right thing to do.


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