Saturday, June 20, 2009

Violence Intensifying in Iran

As evening falls in Iran, it sounds like the government's response to the uprising is more organized today. Batons, water canons, and tear gas are being used to break up the crowds. Riot police have surround Tehran University. Also, Iranian state TV reported a bomb blast at a shrine to Ayatollah Khomeini. Many protesters believe the government set the blast to justify more brutal crackdowns in the days ahead and that it's similar to a trick used in the 1979 revolution. Some are saying the government was reporting the blast before it even happened.

I think this is when the uprising will need either overwhelming numbers or good organization to persist. There have been inspiring reports of solidarity and organization on small scales so far. In previous days, word went out among the resistance to keep houses unlocked, so that if protesters are running from the police they can duck into someone's house.

There's also the new development of "Basiji Hunting" among the resistance. The Basiji are the hardline religious militia who have been attacking people in the streets. They are far more loyal to the regime than the police, many of whom are sympathetic to the uprising. Here's a description of Basiji hunting:

Their resolve is no less than these thugs. They use their phones, their childhood friends, their intimate knowledge of their districts and neighbours to plan their attacks -- they're organised and they're supported by their community so they have little fear. They create the havoc they're after, ambush the thugs, use their Cocktail Molotovs, disperse and re-assemble elsewhere and then start again - and the door of every house is open to them as safe harbour -- they're community-connected.

The Basiji's are not.

These are not the students in the dorms, they're the street young -- they know the ways better than most thugs - and these young, a surprising number of them girls, are becoming more agile in their ways as each night passes on.

In the meantime, the crowds are in the streets chanting, "Death to the Dictator! Death to Khamenei! Allah O Akbar!" It seems that the target of the protests have moved beyond President Ahmadinejad stealing an election, to the legitimacy of the regime itself, to the Supreme Leader. Even if the police and religious thugs disperse the crowds today and the next day and the next, it's hard to imagine how this genie is going to be put entirely back in the bottle. Our thoughts and prayers are with the brave people in the streets of Iran tonight.

1 comment:

delaine said...

Do you remember the old Chinese curse, "May you live in interesting times." Well, these times are interesting for sure ! Just read an interview with Fareed Zakaria (from Newsweek) in which he said he thinks we may be seeing the end of Islamic theocracy. He said that when the Supreme Dude ( whatever his name is ) says the reelection of the incumbent is a divine assessment, nobody really believes it anymore. But Fareed also says it may take time for the regime to fall. You have to admire the determination and courage of the demonstrators !