Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Qods Day, September 18th 2009, UN meeting New York, September 24th 2009 and Back to Uni, 27th September 2009.

It seems important to provide some update on the Qods day protests in Iran and, if I can find pictures, on the protests here and especially in the US on the 24th September, when Ahmadinejaad addressed the United Nations in New York.

The press coverage here in the UK of events across Iran on Qods day was truly deplorable. Not because it was misrepresented as such, but because it was studiously ignored – another kind of misrepresentation.

Facetious remarks aside – what the hell is Qods Day?
Qods day is also called, ‘Jerusalem Day.’ Originally, it was intended as a day of support for Palestinians and for autonomy, liberation and self-determination for the people of that profoundly oppressed, beleaguered and abused nation. Long ago, however, that was forgotten. In Iran, since the dawn of the Islamic Republic, it has been used for the self-aggrandisement of the ruling theocratic regime which relies on the brutalisation of Palestine by Israel to justify its own existence.

Where Were The Press?
The wholesale debunking of Qods day by the people of Iran, from all classes, all age groups and all over the country is a matter of immense, incalculable significance. Why the BBC ignored it and, as far as I’m aware, all other British news channels and organisations, both print and broadcast too, is beyond comprehension. It is true we have no journalists there. It is also true that once ‘the moment’ has passed, news deadlines and the ‘sexiness’ of a story is deemed to have evaporated. Jim Muir in Lebanon said he hadn’t heard anything much, ‘certainly nothing like the mass demonstrations we saw earlier in the Summer.’ Ok, so he’s an Arabic speaker not a Farsi speaker and I’m not persuaded that he was ever really very interested in Iran even when he was there. John Lyne, the current correspondent, always sounded bored rigid and baffled by every aspect of Iran, until it all got a bit exciting which awakened his interest but, because he appears to have so little background knowledge and so little real interest, it is hard to sustain. It seems to me that the absence of any real analysis of this event, - which was absolutely momentous – was, for most part, owing to incompetence – an unedifying mix of ignorance, clumsiness and lack of interest.

What Happened?
Qods day in Tehran, Shiraaz and Esfahan saw the people of Iran turn out in their thousands, except in Tehran, where they numbered somewhere around two million – yes you did read that right – 2 million. As a strategic move, it was a stroke of genius. The opposition movement, the ‘green’ movement, used the Qods day marches as a cover for demonstrations all over Iran. Qods day in a national holiday and it is expected that all good Muslims, aka all good Iranians will march. For years it has been ignored by many with numbers dwindling. Not so this year. The people en masse took the streets and chanted ‘Death to the dictator,’ ‘Not Gaza, not Lebanon, for Iran I sacrifice my life,’ and much more.
Below is a selection of videos filmed in Tehran and Shiraaz, (Shiraazi vids coming when I've found them again,) just to give you an idea of what the demonstrations looked like. There are over 60 videos uploaded to You Tube that you can look at and doubtless many more will come. The first is filmed in Haft e Tir Underground station in Tehran, so great booming sounds!! The second is in Tehran from Haft e Tir to Valiasr - a distance of about 8 kms, then there's a view of the demo from the northern half of Valiasr - the whole road is about 20km long north to south, - so you're beginning to get an idea of size of this demonstration and the scale of the upheaval - hardly 'a couple of thousand at most.'

September 23rd, 2009 UN Building New York

The meeting of the United Nations in New York was well covered by press all over the world, not least the mass exodus of delegates from almost everywhere while Ahmadinejaad strutted his stuff. Magnificent demonstrations in New York and rather more modest ones here were well attended and covered by BBC Persian Service, various US channels, a Dutch channel but, of course, the UK new news outlets were conspicuous by their absence!

Below is a 14 minute video of the NY demos outside the UN building. It's well worth taking the time to see it in full. The voices are saying: ‘Ahmadinejaad is not my president / Ahmadinejaad raais jomhuri man nist’ and ‘marg ba dictator’ or ‘death to the dictator.' Note, about 9 minutes in, from 9-10mins 30sec approx, images of the murdered protestors, Sohraab, Taraaneh, and Nedaa, followed by very interesting commentary on Qods day demonstrations. (BBC Shame on you Shame on you!) The demonstrators in NY are wearing white and images and sound from inside Iran are being projected on to the assembled crowd.

Back To Uni, Back To Iran
Meanwhile, it’s the start of the new academic year in Iran’s universities. Still chanting, ‘marg ba dictator,’ and 'doulaat e coup d'etat estefa' estefa' / government of the coup d'etat, resign resign,' the students are on the march again – footage here.

Today, 28th September, I’m told that the authorities have already closed Tehran University – ‘swine flu’ is the reason given!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!