Tuesday 9 February 2010

Reflections and Spectulations: The last 3 months and the next 3 days in Iran

These days I spend far too much time on facebook. I’ve come to rely on the constant flow of news from Iran, accompanied by comment and spontaneous calls for action in response to the most recent outrage. Last week the Iranian Green Movement and its supporters and friends were in action on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, (x2) and Sunday. Thursday saw some action at the Centre for Promotion of Persian Language and Literature, which hosted a dinner party for Iranian government officials, entitled, according to my source, ‘Standing Up To World Arrogance.’ Not a trace of irony was detected unless you count the presence of Yvonne Ridley, who always seems to be some kind of site-specific ironic self-parody. Friday was the 40th day after the deaths of the 8 people shot in the Ashura protests on December 28th. Saturday is the day people usually gather for an hour or so in Trafalgar Square in solidarity with the mothers of the murdered protesters. There were also people outside the Chinese Embassy protesting the continued support that the Chinese government gives to the regime. Sunday was a quiet gathering in front of the embassy, something which is now happening weekly again.

One of my facebook contributors has been counting down to Thursday 11the February, with mounting excitement, as though expecting a sudden bang which will indicate, unmistakably, the sound the departing regime leaders and their stooges. Everyone expects that the end is nigh, but I’m still not clear what comes next. ‘Go on, what’s your best guess?’ asks an English friend but I’m useless in response. I mutter darkly with another Iranian friend at the Sunday demo – he like me has fears, ‘It’s just so dangerous at the moment.’ I do fear that Thursday 11th will result a blood bath. I do fear Tiananmen Square all over again. I don’t want any more ‘martyrs’ and I don’t want the gathering of mothers in mourning that takes place in Tehran and other Iranian cities weekly to grow any bigger. I don’t want any more mass graves, Iran has enough of them already, many dating from the early 1980s. 

Anyone doubting the organisational capacity of the Green Movement, should probably think again. Here is the film they have sent out to the Iranian armed forces. It’s bilingual. So they want you to know they’ve done it.

A Message from the Green Movement to the Armed Forces of Iran: 
The embedded video caught a nasty virus. Will upload again when the coast's clear. Apologies for irritating ommission. Claudia

Riding Authority
The tone and register of both the organisation of the protests and the reports on them by the Green Movement has changed markedly over the moths, which I’m going to look at in the next post and show various video footage I’ve been collecting. I think it’s getting more positive by degrees now. Time was when it seemed to be about working out how best to protest. As the opposition built, partly in response to the sheer brutality of the crackdown, the show trials, the reports of deaths, torture and, especially of the first hand accounts of rape, the people began to ‘ride’ authority, ‘piggy-backing’ on government approved demonstrations such as ‘Qods Day,’ ‘13 Aban,’ (the anniversary of the occupation of the US embassy by Iranian students in 1979; ‘Students Day,’ (anniversary of the shooting of 6 students on Tehran University campus by the Shah’s police force); and culminating in Ashura Day, 28th December 2009, when the gloves come off the current regime and they shot another 8 protesters including the nephew of Mir Hossein Mousavi. This was followed by the execution of two political prisoners, one arrested before the elections for campaigning for Mousavi and one arrested during the post-election protests  - the latter was 19 years old. A further 9 have now been condemned. There is a great deal more to say about these but the government has now issued 3 entirely conflicting statements about the two who were executed. Initially, it announced, they were involved in the Ashura demonstrations, but both were in prison at the time, then it changed to a ‘monarchist group,’ until it was pointed out that no such group existed either in Iran or anywhere else, now they are part of the Mujahideen e Khalk, (who exist only outside Iran). We’ve had the ‘foreign powers’ story trotted out a couple of times as well. No doubt they’ll be Israeli agents next.

Constructing History In Advance
For the first time since the disputed elections of the 12the June 2009, the opposition leaders are actively encouraging the protesters to go out and confront the regime. The regime has demonstrated its willingness to shoot to kill whenever it pleases and shows no compunction. It has established that it is capable of conducting a ‘reign of terror,’ and, with the show-trials, the executions and now the announcement of the next 9 due to be executed, we could say that it has already begun. The Green Movement has also gathered considerable force and has the support of the much of the Iranian diaspora, but is not armed, unless the armed forces respond to that video. As far as I can tell, that’s pretty much it. I have no ‘best guess,’ and I’m not about to hazard one now. For now, I will just leave you with some of the calls to action and some of the imagery emerging in the last few days and weeks.

Movie trailer style, schmultzy accents:

Stirring stuff and Human Rights :

The last word in optimism:

The End: