Sunday, 19 July 2009

Iran Just Won't Give Up

Since the day the protests began in Tehran, I'd been following a lot of the #iranelection info zizzing around inside Twitter, checking up on trusted blog posts, and watching videos. But recently, I've missed a few days worth of Twitter feeds (kids on summer vacation needing more attention and spending time with family who do NOT get the social media craze were big factors). Now I'm getting caught up. So I wanted to share with you some quotes, as well as one new blog site I've found.

Last Friday's prayers were historic, in many ways. It was the first time since the election that Hashemi Rafsanjani has spoken at length, publicly, about what's been happening in his country. A former President himself, and a man with a lot of clout, as a result of his role in the 1979 Revolution that overthrew the Shah of Iran and established the current government, rumors had been flying around for weeks about his involvement in support of the protesters from behind the scenes. There were high hopes for his sermon on Friday. Perhaps too high, for some of the protesters. In case you hadn't heard, the government made its expectations of Rafasanji abundantly clear by arresting his family immediately after the protests began. Most reports from eye-witnesses in Tehran on Friday were willing to acknowledge that outright condemnation of the government would have been political (and perhaps literal) suicide.

Where he put his weight was in his silences. By NOT upbraiding the government directly, by NOT mentioning Supreme Leader Khamenei or President Ahmadinejad at all (which, apparently, is unheard of in Friday prayers), he spoke volumes. And judging by the tenor of high emotional intensity exhibited in online accounts, his listeners heard every tacit word.

I'll start by sharing with you a post from a young woman who calls herself "Pedestrian". (I won't tell you her age--read her bio on the "About" page of the site. A helluva writer, she is.) She posted her reaction and a general translation of Rafsanjani's sermon. Be sure to bookmark her home page and come back for more.

YouTube has videos of the speech itself--you can find them linked on this blog, where blog author, Naj, has posted translations to the last three segments of the speech, so far.

From reading through portions of Tehran Bureau's website, I've taken some selected cuts of quotes from eyewitnesses on Friday:

After the sermon, we got up to pray. And we suddenly noticed how cozy everyone had become [Many leading clerics believe that men and women should not stand side to side when praying... But today, they were praying next to each other which is unprecedented].

After the prayer we got up to leave, but we were being instructed to chant Death to America. We would answer back with Death to Russia. He would want us to say the blood in our veins is a gift to our leader, but we would say the blood in our veins is a gift to our nation.

We were walking happily along until we reached 16th of Azar Street. We could see armed men standing behind the gates of the University of Tehran. The guy beside us kept saying: “Do you know what will happen if these guys are ordered to come out?” We finally agreed to let him take us out of the crowd. We were happily leaving when we saw a HUMONGOUS crowd run our way. People were scrambling to escape. When I spoke to one person later, when he had calmed down, he just kept saying: “Whatever that was, it wasn’t tear gas. My entire body is burning.”


There was violence today, but not as bad as the previous demonstrations. People were bruised and beaten, but not as many and not as severely.

We were getting up to leave the prayer, when we saw a truck coming our way from the distance. We could makae out a dozen or so militias in black uniforms in the back of the truck. Someone yelled: “don’t get up! sit!” We sat, frightened, as there were only 30 or 40 people and the truck was getting closer. Suddenly, people around us all ran to our side. They all sat down. We were at least a few hundred now. The truck backed up and left.


Since people couldn’t break out into chants in front of the thug squads, they had to resort to codified slogans. “Marg bar Diktator” (”Death to the Dictator”) alternated with “Marg bar Russiye” (”Death to Russia”) — this was a sly jab at Ahmadinejad-Khamenei due to their alleged alliance with Russia in orchestrating the vote coup (Medvedev had promptly congratulated the fraudulent win and welcomed Ahmadinejad to a regional summit after the elections; Russia is widely believed to give behind-the-scenes support to Ahmadinejad’s government, bypassing sanctions, selling arms, helping build the nuclear plant in Bushehr, etc.)

The day was scorching hot and I heard fellow Mousavites saying that just by being present on the streets, we oblige security forces to stand for hours in the hot sun in their heavy uniforms, helmets, vests, masks … the best revenge we can muster nonviolently!

I hope, if you're able, that you'll follow these events, too, and share any great resources you find. Though events could still move either way, the tide seems to be shifting and the swell change promises to be as tragic as Tienanmen Square or as inspiring as the fall of the Berlin Wall.

I wish with all my heart for the latter.

1 comment:

  1. dear Ms. Orr,
    I'm so glad to find your blog.Iran's is the world's most critical struggle, but it is a suspenseful drama played in slow motion.My only contribution is to assure folks who are suffering with war hysteria that there has never been an attractive military option .


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