This is a guest note written by an anonymous student in Tehran. Sent to The Washington Note at 3:50 am on 17 June 2009.
So long as the “process” is underway with the Guardian Council I don’t foresee things spinning way out of control. What happened in Azadi, the shootings, wasn’t systematic. I’m holding my breath to see what will happen in 8-10 days, when the decision comes down
…I’m afraid for that day. Again, I cannot emphasize enough, that they’ve overstepped and this time the foot didn’t land just on the necks of university kids. Mothers and daughters are being shot and beat, thankfully not a lot, but these are the same people who were out the
week before the election. Soccer game today at 3 pm against North Korea (go figure), a positive outcome means that Iran is going to the World Cup.
Personally, I’m holding out for a ’68 Olympics, Mexico City, “black power” moment…Wouldn’t it be something if the players said something?
Roughly-Hewn Debate — Sent 4:47 am, 15 June 2009
Again, there are two levels of action right now, the unstructured protest on the streets beginning in the late afternoon and escalating at night. In my own apartment complex this morning (2 am) we were woken up to screams and shouts. Kids from the building and elsewhere had been engaging in rock fights in the adjoining street and had run \into the complex (a typical “tower” found in almost all of the developing world). Families went out to the fire escape to look down to see what had happened. Turns out that special police had rushed into the complex, followed by “basijis” or paramilitary forces, basically thugs on motorbikes with helmets and batons. It was reported that they had electric rods and, to the shock of many, machetes. Several people were wounded and taken away and much of the first floor and entrance of the complex was destroyed.
A dramatic exchange ensued after two hours…the gate locked, the elders of the complex in heated discussion with representatives of the basiji forces…”Why if you’re chasing after someone have you come into our homes and beat women and children, broken all of our glass and busted the windshields on the cars in the underground parking.” The basijis left with the situation unresolved.
What is remarkable about this scene is the role of elders trying to mediate, to speak rationally in order to resolve the problem. This is unlikely to last as the situation becomes more and more about force. On buses and in taxes you hear voices saying what’s the point, they’re all the same, why fight it, etc.., but then every night and even during the day clashes are occurring. This week will be critical…if the conflict can be sustained—Tehran is steadily coming to a standstill—then it is possible that the situation will enter a new phase. Either way, have no doubt, the IRI is over. A leading cleric has already announced, it’s no longer the Islamic Republic (jomhuri e Islami) but the Islamic government (hookoomat e Islami). Whether now or in a few months or years, the
game is over.
I attended the Vali Asr demonstration for Dr. A yesterday afternoon and the turnout was impressive, mostly families and obviously religious types (momen in Farsi). Many asked that I take their pictures and the mood was festive, defiant. It is critical that you know that the chants were minimally against Mousavi. Almost all were directed against Rafsanjani. He is seen as the big threat, and this election is turning out to be an outstanding feud between Rafsanjani and Ahmadinejad in alliance with the Supreme Leader. What will be
interesting is to see what Rafsanjani does next, particularly as he is regularly described as the “power behind the power,” the man with real pull in Iran, etc.. What will he do?
Mousavi, while known to be a man who does not back down (I know this directly from a man who worked with him directly on the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution), is also likely, like Khatami, to (at least at first) to try to calm the situation down, which is what
we have already seen him do. This means that the movement and action out in the streets thus far lacks clear leadership.
Notably, Ahmadinejad in his victory address broadcast on live television announced that it no longer matters who was with the “Imam” (in Iran the usual honorific given to the late Ruhollah Khomeini). What matters is what you’ve done now.
We are hearing word that Karrobi has announced that he will no longer wear his clerical garb. Karrobi, who famously and loudly claimed that Dr. A stole the election from him four years ago, feels that he has been humiliated again. There is simply no way that he received around 400,000 votes — his known supporters were more than this. Focus on this stat for proof of how bogus this election has been.
Goebbels may have said that only the Big Lie will do, but that was good for 1930s Germany not Iran today.
In Tehran information is being passed around by phone and word of mouth, SMS is still down, facebook is blocked though easily accessed with a filter-buster.
Finally, and this may be the most important piece of news, I personally heard “Marq bar Khamanei” (death or down with Khamanei) said quickly and once last night. A neighborhood reported that it was more than once…if true, and I don’t know if it is, this marks a significant turning point. Up until now the chants had been “Marq bar dictator” meaning Ahmadinejad. To chant against the Supreme Leader is an incredible taboo…please see Charles Kurzmann’s book “The Unthinkable Revolution” for context as to why this is important…In 1979 everyone wanted the Shah to fall but no one believed that is was thinkable. Then, for some reason, it became so, the movement reached
a moment of viability. While this did not guarantee the revolution’s success, it was a necessary condition for events to move forward. Has the same happened now in Iran?
The 1979 Revolution, once in motion, took months to play out but inside of it no knew what was exactly happening, how long it would take, or whether there would be a successful conclusion. The same applies to the situation now.
— Anonymous Student in Tehran