History in the Making in Iran

Iranian plain clothes policemen beat a demonstrator (c)AFP/Getty

Iranian plain clothes policemen beat a demonstrator (c)AFP/Getty

We are glued to news coming out of Iran, literally watching as history is unfolding. Commentators have been grasping for relevant comparisons; is this another Tiananmen Square? Another Prague Spring? Or is it even a Second Iranian Revolution? But no comparisons are appropriate for the phenomenal outpouring of people demanding that their rights be respected.

Why is this happening in Iran? We don’t see massive protests in other Middle Eastern countries such as Egypt when there have been allegations of electoral impropriety.

Adjectives such as fearless, indomitable and awe-inspiring come to mind as we see Iranians continually defying bans on opposition protests to pour into the streets by the hundreds of thousands. They constantly find ingenious ways to confound the authorities’ attempts to block communications; now that foreign journalists have been prevented from covering rallies, we rely on the videos, photos and eyewitness accounts provided by Iranian citizens to YouTube and their friends and relatives for up-to-the-minute information.

Iranians express their defiance in a variety of other ways: women have been risking their safety and even their lives to walk up to Basij (paramilitaries) and riot police on motorcycles and armed with truncheons to remind them that “we are all Iranians” and asking them to refrain from violence. Even members of Iran’s soccer team playing in a World Cup qualifying match in Seoul wore green armbands, the color of the opposition candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi.

The yearning for freedom and human rights is a mighty force. Some have claimed that human rights is somehow a “western” concept, foisted on the rest of the world by paternalistic and arrogant Europeans and North Americans. Yet despite Iranian authorities’ attempts to portray the protests as being somehow the result of American “interference” it is clear that the impetus for the massive protests comes from the Iranian people themselves.

What will happen? Already the Supreme Leader has made an unprecedented announcement that there will be an investigation into the allegations of election fraud. Another massive rally by supporters of Mr. Mousavi has been called for tomorrow and there is no way to predict where events will lead.

The authorities have reacted to the unrest by use of force—sometimes lethal—as well as by mass arrests of opposition figures, journalists and human rights lawyers. We hope they will not unleash the full fury of the Revolutionary Guards against the demonstrators, which could result in unthinkable deaths and injuries. But we do know that there is no turning back. The Iranian authorities cannot count on the hope that things will just settle down and that the Iranian people will continue to accept the massive human rights violations perpetrated on them.

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14 thoughts on “History in the Making in Iran

  1. Dear Elise, why protests in Iran & not in other middle easter lands ? you ask.

    i feel Iran's got a livelier political life like Lebanon. Such elections themselves are conceivable only in these 2 lands . Is it anything to do with the more freeflowing Shia crescent of terrible DC repute, which has fallen outside washington's orbit ?

    But you shoould know why no such protests are unimaginable in egypt & other Arab states ( not mentioning the unmentionable "jewish" state of zion ) where empire helps native state facism fight global warming.

    Moussavi's record of a wave of executions when he was in power is nothing to gush about. The more affluent & modernised classes are more for him for they've no one better. But they themelves don't represent the vast mass of the Iranian people, either. It would be wise to keep all classes of Iranian society in mind.

  2. Excuse the slip above where i meant to say "why no such protests are IMaginable in egypt", etc.

    Got too carried away as always …

    Also, such elections are conceivable ONLY in these 2 lands of the Middle East, as i say ?? Sloppy statement. Should say the only 2 Arab lands i can think of at the moment.

  3. Dear Elise, why protests in Iran & not in other middle easter lands ? you ask.

    i feel Iran’s got a livelier political life like Lebanon. Such elections themselves are conceivable only in these 2 lands . Is it anything to do with the more freeflowing Shia crescent of terrible DC repute, which has fallen outside washington’s orbit ?

    But you shoould know why no such protests are unimaginable in egypt & other Arab states ( not mentioning the unmentionable “jewish” state of zion ) where empire helps native state facism fight global warming.

    Moussavi’s record of a wave of executions when he was in power is nothing to gush about. The more affluent & modernised classes are more for him for they’ve no one better. But they themelves don’t represent the vast mass of the Iranian people, either. It would be wise to keep all classes of Iranian society in mind.

  4. Excuse the slip above where i meant to say “why no such protests are IMaginable in egypt”, etc.

    Got too carried away as always …

    Also, such elections are conceivable ONLY in these 2 lands of the Middle East, as i say ?? Sloppy statement. Should say the only 2 Arab lands i can think of at the moment.

  5. Dear John:

    Thank you for your comment. I was actually asking a rhetorical question about why Iran and not some other Middle Eastern country. As many commentators have noted, one reason why Iranians are so agitated now is precisely because they have an expectation that their vote counts and that they have the right to democratically elect their president. Such an expectation does not exist in other countries in the Middle East, hence the "resignation."

  6. Dear John:

    Thank you for your comment. I was actually asking a rhetorical question about why Iran and not some other Middle Eastern country. As many commentators have noted, one reason why Iranians are so agitated now is precisely because they have an expectation that their vote counts and that they have the right to democratically elect their president. Such an expectation does not exist in other countries in the Middle East, hence the “resignation.”

  7. Thank you for explaining, Elise. Got it now.

    But you know, i never do get, having never voted, why people — in any land — think "my vote counts".It's the slave mindset instilled by democracies with such ideas ,so they can legitimise their breaking & entering into people's houses next time.No wonder democracy originated in slave systems. No we wear our rights like dogtags. We've all become agency indians.

  8. Thank you for explaining, Elise. Got it now.

    But you know, i never do get, having never voted, why people — in any land — think “my vote counts”.It’s the slave mindset instilled by democracies with such ideas ,so they can legitimise their breaking & entering into people’s houses next time.No wonder democracy originated in slave systems. No we wear our rights like dogtags. We’ve all become agency indians.