Monday, June 15, 2009

Courage is Colored Green

Wow. The Iranian government banned the rally. The government threatened to shoot the marchers.

And the people still came.

MSNBC estimates that a million people, stretched over five miles, marched in Tehran.


At least a few people were killed by police and pro-government thugs. But the protesters strike me as remarkably patient. During the main march, they were chanting "Police, police, thank you!" for not attacking the march. There are a few videos of protesters allowing and helping police to escape the crowd. They are doing everything in their power to keep the movement nonviolent. The opposite is true of the Iranian government. There are many gruesome videos online of the pro-government militias and thugs and plain-clothes police attacking unarmed people. There are reports that the government is bringing in foreign Hezbollah fighters to do more dirty work.


I've been looking into what we can do to help the Green Revolution. And one of the biggest things is simply to help keep the spotlight on this story. The mainstream media is beginning to come around and is covering this in a more accurate, more favorable light, instead of just stupidly saying that Ahmadinejad won and people are angry (which by the way is what Ahmadinejad says).

Iranian protesters are putting out pleas through Twitter for international solidarity:
"It'd be great if all Iranians living outside Iran would ask their non-Iranian friends to change their Facebook pictures to green. Facebook has a lot of followers and everyone would hear the voice of Iranians." (Green was the color of the opposition leader Mousavi's campaign and has become the color of the resistance.)
You got it. Let's use this picture, which I grabbed from Andrew Sullivan (who came under cyber attack from the Iranian government today).

(Use this as your Facebook profile pic.)

Facebook or otherwise, find some small way to be a part of this. This is a potential turning point in history, where a diverse people's movement has a chance to topple a brutal authoritarian regime.

More to follow as things unfold.


Becky said...

I got the profile pic. Do you feel there's cause for optimism? I hope so. Also, fittingly, the Frontline this week was about "Tank Man," the lone man who stood in front of the tanks at Tiananmen Square. Anyway, great post and I like your green text.

Dave said...

I'm optimistic. I think it will be hard for the regime to reclaim any legitimacy after this. I think suppressing this movement may be like trying to put toothpaste back in the tube.

However, from what I'm reading, I get the general sense that things will get much worse before they get better. People are expecting the government to really crack down and for things to get even more violent. Ahmadinejad just left the country to attend some summit. Some are saying that's so the big crackdown to come won't directly reflect upon him.

Camp Papa said...

As much as I hope the people in the streets throw off the theocratic rule of old men, I have a feeling that we could make it harder if they are seen as too closely allied with the west. This has to be the work of the people of Iran. So, what's the right balance of supporting their aspirations without making them more vulnerable by making them appear to be "in league" with infidels?

Dave said...

I think the balance you talk about is why the Obama Administration has been pretty reserved about this whole thing. We certainly don't want the Iranian regime to be able to point and say, "Look, this is all a Western plot!"

But it's also a huge morale booster for the protesters to see that the world is watching. Image is obviously important. Both sides are carrying English banners and signs in their rallies.

I think maybe the right balance from the international community is more of what we've seen the last couple of days: eyes glued to the situation and vocal support for democracy, dissent, and human rights.

Big forces are in motion. It's hard to predict how this will play out. The Iranian people may not overthrow Khamanei this week or next. But in the long run this is going to be good.

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