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I'm glued to PBS's Tehran bureau, al Jazeera and 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

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Originally posted to Dicot on Wed Mar 02, 2011 at 11:34 AM PST.

Also republished by Foreign Relations and Eyes on Egypt and the Region.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Republished to (3+ / 0-)

    Eyes on Egypt and the Region group.

  •  One hopes that (4+ / 0-)

    all the undemocratic regimes in the region crumble.  Currently that incredible prospect seems quite possible.  

    "How did you go bankrupt?" "Two ways. Gradually, then suddenly." - Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises.

    by weasel on Wed Mar 02, 2011 at 12:12:07 PM PST

  •  The way I see it (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gustogirl, weasel, mochajava13, papicek

    is that regardless of whether you believe support for the regime is 15% or 40% it still amounts to a large number of people. That support includes the economic might of the Revolutionary Guard and their businesses and favored partners, the Basiji, and some real fanatics who are willing to kill and die for the current regime. When you add to that all the official power of the state--it is pretty hard to see who can topple them directly.

    In the case of Egypt, Tunisia and Libya the autocrats managed to rally nearly the entire population against them. As top-heavy and Iranian society may be, the current regime is probably still better at distributing the wealth and therefore holding enough critical support.

    Why are they holding Karroubi and Mousavi? I don't know--we'll see what happens. Generally the Green Movement is holding to non-violence, and I do not see them changing that soon.

    You may find yourself in a beautiful house, with a beautiful wife, and you may ask yourself, "How did I get here?"

    by FrankCornish on Wed Mar 02, 2011 at 12:25:21 PM PST

    •  the RG has lots of money... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      but, at least in the cities, they've lost a lot of their farr, their mojo. And the RG doesn't have all the economy, when the "bazaar class" decides to withdraw their support, they'll go the way of the shah, no matter how brutal they try to be.

      "The cure for bullshit is fieldwork."
      Robert H. Bates, Eaton Professor of the Science of Government, Harvard University.

      by papicek on Wed Mar 02, 2011 at 01:02:20 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I hope so, (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        weasel, papicek

        but as a friend of mine pointed out--the Shah and his supporters all spoke English and French and traveled extensively outside the country--I don't think the Pasdaran have the same inclinations--they might be much more inclined to stay to the end.

        I hope some less painless formula of transition is discovered.

        You may find yourself in a beautiful house, with a beautiful wife, and you may ask yourself, "How did I get here?"

        by FrankCornish on Wed Mar 02, 2011 at 01:10:35 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I don't have any hopes... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mochajava13, FrankCornish

          when it comes to Persia. Your point is correct, though.

          Consider who is doing the protesting and the dying: the sons and daughters of the educated middle class of the cities. Maybe this time is different, but historically, when the "bazaar class" in Persia goes, the rulers have had it, and that's what I think we're seeing here. Or what we're watching build up. Protesters finding ways to communicate securely will be key. If they find ways to get their message out in spite of a state-controlled press.

          It could be civil war though. The RG isn't the only armed force in the country.

          "The cure for bullshit is fieldwork."
          Robert H. Bates, Eaton Professor of the Science of Government, Harvard University.

          by papicek on Wed Mar 02, 2011 at 01:23:05 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Who else is armed? (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            The Army?

            That would likely mean civil war.

            You may find yourself in a beautiful house, with a beautiful wife, and you may ask yourself, "How did I get here?"

            by FrankCornish on Wed Mar 02, 2011 at 01:26:44 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  yes, the army... (0+ / 0-)

              and civil war was exactly what I was thinking about. Like I said, I don't have much hope when it comes to Iran. A lot of educated women, though, a greater proportion of women in colleges and universities than in the US. I don't know what affect this might have.

              "The cure for bullshit is fieldwork."
              Robert H. Bates, Eaton Professor of the Science of Government, Harvard University.

              by papicek on Thu Mar 03, 2011 at 07:13:20 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

  •  Very good diary (0+ / 0-)

    How wonderful it would be to have a free Iran with an open society.

    •  Thanks (0+ / 0-)

      My first diary post to DailyKos, I still don't really have the hang of this yet, but I feel the need to do something, even if it's only blowing off steam. I dated a wonderful Iranian woman years ago who was forced to flee Tehran in 1978, alone, when she was only a girl. She lived with distant relatives for years until her parents could be admitted here and they all told me incredible and terrible things about Tehran under Khomeini. I too hope that Iran can be free and open someday soon, it's an incredible culture.

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