I'm glued to PBS's Tehran bureau, al Jazeera and whyweprotest.net these days, waiting to see if the heady scent of jasmine-laced freedom is strong enough to bring the bloody, inhumane rule of Ahmadinejad and Khamenei crumbling down, like so many other dictatorships in the region have been lately.
For America, this would be a Gorbachev moment -- a bitter enemy transformed suddenly into a potential friend & trading partner, or at the very least, a less hateful enemy. Yet as I watch the videos and read the stories of the Green Movement's supporters being brutalized, of it's main leaders - Mousavi and Karroubi - being illegally jailed, and of a Persian diaspora hopeful, yet poorly organized, I have to wonder if the world is missing a fantastic opportunity to support the same efforts that are succeeding in Egypt, Tunisia and elsewhere, but are failing in Iran?
I'm sorry to say I don't have any answers, just unanswered questions about why we can't find some way to support Iran's Green movement without it hindering these brave peoples' cause. I'm here in L.A., home to the largest Persian population in the world outside of Iran, yet I can't see any organized support for the weekly protests the Green Wave is mounting in the streets and on the rooftops of Tehran and across Iran. But maybe I'm missing it, as I don't speak Farsi. But I do ask that someone come up with a winning strategy that the world outside Iran can support, before Mousavi and Karroubi are executed and this unbelievable moment in history has passed.
"...many people unfamiliar with the hellhole that Iran has become questioning whether Iranians really want freedom, dignity, and human rights like their protesting kin elsewhere in the Middle East. After all, they demonstrate every once in a while but don't seem to "seize the momentum," as one colleague put it. The answer is actually quite easy to give, but grasping the reality of the oppression against protesters in Iran is not just difficult, sometimes it's nearly impossible. That's because it isn't just the general suppression of rights and the failure to address widespread hunger and unemployment that characterizes the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran, it is also centrally defined by its barbarity against peaceful protesters.
I'm sure some could relate a few tales of the brutal and inhuman suffering that Iranians have had to go through in the past 32 years, but even those few are spared the most horrifying of the details or get only snippets. I mean, yes, some could understand what it might feel like if your brother or sister was murdered -- people lose loved ones daily to violence. But how would you feel if your loved one went to protest, then, when he or she was killed by security forces, the government held a funeral claiming the deceased was actually a member of the security forces murdered by the opposition?
Imagine a country where when protesters are killed, their families have to pay something called a "bullet fee," because the government expended resources to murder them. Imagine being a war veteran, standing in a morgue and begging the very men who are responsible for your son's death to return his body to you because you cannot possibly pay the amount they're asking for.
Yes, stoning is horrifying, but there are other things you don't hear about much. Imagine a regime that doesn't execute virgin women. Don't get too excited. It doesn't mean what you think. It actually means that when a woman who's a virgin is condemned to death, she's married off to a prison guard in a sham ceremony hours before her execution so he can rape her. Only then can she be executed.
Imagine a prison, where instead of cells, they have shipping containers out in the yard. Dozens of detained protesters are forced into a container until there is no more room, then shut in for days without food or water. But that's the least of prisoners' concerns when they cannot breathe in such a confined space under the burning sun and can only wait to die of asphyxiation.
Imagine a police force that will drag the dead bodies of your loved ones from the streets after shooting them in a protest, then, bury them in unmarked graves. Imagine finding your child's grave after bribing a dozen officials, then coming the next day to find the grave gone. Imagine that.
But most of all, try to imagine a state where if you speak of regime change or go out to protest or even try to raise awareness about these brutalities, you are condemned and tried for "fighting against God," because apparently, the state is governed not by human laws, but by the laws of the divine. You won't be tried for sedition, but for daring to challenge God's authority on earth because you wanted to speak your mind.
This is what a proponent of democracy faces when he or she goes out to protest in Iran. Almost certain torture, rape, and even murder in the event of arrest. Fifteen hundred protesters were arrested on February 14 and many more on the 20th. The United Nations doesn't care. The United State and the European Union can do little and don't do the little that they can because, hey, they gotta worry about those nukes the mullahs are building first.
26 Feb 2011 14:32
Read more: http://www.pbs.org/...