source photo : shooresh1917

(suite du témoignage de B*, reçue aujourd'hui de Téhéran)

any message of support and solidarity should be sent to andymoor(at)wittereus.net

Dispatch from Tehran #9

TEHRAN, June 17, 02h00---Today brought thousands to the streets again, although protesters changed the initial location of the protest because Ahmadinejad supporters were supposed to gather at the same site. Official state television was calling all peoples of all opinions to gather there, which in Islamic Republic code means: go and fight it out; we will provide the armed militias, and you will provide the targets.

So the peaceful crowd changed their location, making their way from Vanak Square towards Tajrish, in the north of Tehran.  Like each day, the protests are illegal, and people afraid of repercussions, but this has not kept them indoors. The government has announced that it will re-count votes, although what has happened to the votes is a mystery. Many have resigned from the Ministry of Interior and most likely the paper ballots we all hand-wrote have either been trashed or tampered with. In any case, it matters little. This is not about the elections, but about a people being mocked and disgraced over and over again by a fascist regime -- YES... FASCIST... (with big capital letters, for all those who think otherwise!).

I took the day off from the rally to rest... and to move across the city to hide my video tapes, get internet access at a friend's house, and to converse and exchange ideas about what has happened and what will happen in the next days, weeks, months, and maybe years. We all think that this is a beginning of the formation of a movement towards major systemic change. The last decade, starting with the student movement of 1999, brought about a demand for a REFERENDUM. Yes or No to Velayat-e-Faqih, supreme and divine law as administered by the chosen Ayatollah. This will come with due time - people want a peaceful, yet determined transition, one that will mean change brought about through a long-term people's struggle.  Our only hope is that this movement is not stolen or undermined as the 1906 Constitutional Revolution was, as the coup d'etat in 1953 brought an end to Mossadegh's fight, and as the 1979 Revolution turned from a people's (mainly leftist) revolution to an Islamic one.

We are hopeful; people know what they want and are no longer afraid of each other. They have proven that the regime has ultimately failed at crushing our deep-set solidarity. But there is work to be done; there are many cleavages and gaps (both economic and cultural) in Iranian society, and too much trauma to just step nonchalantly towards something new. There are echoes of the past at every corner, and the strength of this time, I believe, is that we all have some memory, a collective memory, of what Iranians have been through together. Even those university students that I met last week, so adamantly calling for equality between men and women, carry some imprint of the aftermath of the revolution or the Iran-Iraq war, even if they were not yet born. People are learning their own history and making use of it.

But there is a lot of work to do. Right now we continue to stay in the streets, in defiance, in opposition, in solidarity, and to show who has power. The immediate demands may be for a cancellation of this election and a revote, but what has surfaced starting during the election campaign is a need for major change, or outright revolt. What people want is not Moussavi, Karroubi, or whoever else. What people want is freedom of expression and speech; freedom to gather; an end to censorship of press, art, film, theatre, and basically everything else you can name; and the right to choose how to live in private and in public, together.

Despite yesterday's killings, and violence in other parts of the country today (and most definitely cases in Tehran that we have not yet heard of), I feel very optimistic and energized today. Even the Bassijis had to stand silently on the sidewalks, having shocked the world with their brutal killings yesterday.

That said the list of repressive actions and events continue. University students are still under attack: two students were thrown off the roof of a building today at Tehran University; the director of Shiraz University resigned; at least 50 reformist leaders have been arrested; police still have an order to kill; SMS messaging, and also cell phone communications are shut down; internet is sporadically closed or slowed with parasites; the spokesperson of the Ministry of the Interior was arrested, most likely because he would have let out some unpleasant information.

These events will accumulate, the country, as we know it, is falling apart, and things are happening.

Two bits of information, one funny and one with exciting prospects:

1)  State television continued to publish its phone number at the bottom of the screen, and read SMS messages that they apparently received today; although ALL SMS has been shut down since Saturday!!  An oversight or just plain stupidity.  Doesn't matter, we had a laugh. This gives you a sense of how the country is run with lies.

2) Sixteen members of the Revolutionary Guard were arrested today for trying to give arms to people within the opposition. Three of these men were veterans of the Iran-Iraq war.

On a not so gay note, please look at this photo: plainclothes police, militia, or paid hitmen. This is what we are up against.


Tomorrow, a massive gathering is planned - to meet at 4 pm at Haft-e-Tir Square. Hopefully I'll have internet access in the late evening to report.