Monday, July 28, 2008

Student Protest in Iran (Additional material)

Twenty years ago Iran's leaders commenced an official series of mass executions lasting several months so terrible that every anniversary of those events brings the country close to revolution.
Thus far Iran's despotic leadership has averted civil war employing the usual methods of history's tyrants.
These are tense times in Iran.

July 10

This video from Kamran Ashtary, an Iranian blogger working from the Netherlands, shows a measure of civil unrest in Iran that Americans now rarely see. Peaceful demonstrations in 2006 by immigrants wanting to be recognized were bigger and more widespread but far less dangerous to those demonstrating. I have a feeling that taking part in this kind of activity in Iran has more serious consequences than fines or deportation.

Civil rights demonstrations in the Sixties were as close as Americans came to political demonstrations of this magnitude. (Woodstock and the mob behaviors of the later Sixties are categorically different.)

Look long and hard at this clip.
Ask yourself whether a military attack on Iran will help these students in their cause or (instead) inspire large numbers of indifferent or fearful Iranian citizens to close ranks against an outside threat to their country.

I know how protests are seen in this country by everyday people. Most people tend to regard those protesting as a fringe group, possibly dangerous and almost certainly unpatriotic. Only when issues reach a tipping point in favor of what the protest was about do people start to change their minds.

People like these become heroes only in retrospect... and only if they succeed... and don't get killed first.

From a book review of "Iran: A View from Here" by Kamran Ashtary and Tori Egherman. Tori is his American wife.

With Iran so much in the news, it is easy to forget that behind the political intrigues there lies a vast country in which people do their best to live normal lives. In depicting some of the many faces of Iran, Tori and Kamran relate some of their feelings and experiences in Iran, not attempting to gloss over the difficulties and the mixed feelings it evokes. The positives are celebrated – Tori, as an American in Iran, has been met only with welcome and kindness: 'What never ceases to amaze me is how welcoming Iranians are to me, especially once they discover that I am an American,' she says – and the negatives are just as openly discussed: 'There are so many contrasts in this lovely country of ours. Iran will always be a place that I love and that I hate,' says Kamran.

American public knowledge of Iran is virtually non-existent. Most people I know could not find the country on a map of Asia, and would have no idea about Iranian history, religion or culture. Thanks to a drumbeat of fear-mongering from many places here (underscored by a corresponding drumbeat of sabre-rattling from Ahmedi Nezhad and company in Tehran) a growing number of otherwise ignorant Americans are being deliberately led into preparations for yet another military adventure in that part of the world.

My question is this: How many times do we have to make the same mistake?

Here is another link to a post from Mideast Youth from an Iranian expat in Germany, telling about mass executions in Iran in 1988. Events such as these have not been forgotten by everyday people there.

About 20 years ago, from August to September 1988, collective crimes were committed in Iran. As Ayatollah Khomeini drank the “poison chalice” and accepted the humiliation of peace treaty with his arch foe, Saddam Hossein, he calmed down his frustration by ordering the executions of the Iranian political prisoners who were spending their prison terms and some of them must have already be released. Khomeini named execution-commissions, mostly formed from devoted Mullahs, to fulfil his order within all political prisoners in Iran.

The exact numbers of executions of 88 and the conditions of executions have never been revealed by the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) or by both the media and factions of the regime. Neither have been the cruel dimensions of these crimes mentioned or reported by IRI’s lobby groups in the West which primordially are defending IRI’s parasitic survival.

Different rates are speculated by both IRI’s deserters and rescuers. It varies from at least 4485 names published in the opposition media up to 30000 executions, as estimated by others.
The executed were buried in unmarked mass graves on the outskirts of the towns. In Tehran, one mass burial was accidentally discovered by an Armenian priest who had become curious as to why stray dogs kept digging there for bones. Most victims were young sympathisers of the left organisations and MOK. Many of them were arrested in their teens for reading or distributing an opposition pamphlet or a banned newspaper. The executions followed summary trials and soon included all other political prisoners–leftist and democratic opposition. Many were 12 to 14 years old when arrested.
In the twentieth year of the massacre, we all freedom-loving Iranians along with the families who lost their loved children in summer 88 demand the UN to officially condemn this massacre. It is in the nature of the IRI and obvious evidence that such massacres can repeatedly be committed in Iran as soon as the IRI exists.

The international judicial authorities are requested to summon the murderers of this genocide before an international tribune to be tried. Such a process will not exceed their rights. Such a tribunal is similar to the case of the Nuremberg Court which rightfully brought the Nazi criminals before the justice because of their crimes against humanity.

The students in the clip above being filmed by the authorities are not ignorant of this history. By taking to the streets they are literally risking their lives. A way must be found to protect, encourage and support them in their efforts. Dropping bombs into their country is not the best method.

The student protest in the above clip observes the 1999 student uprising. LINK LINK

July 8th is the anniversary of the student uprising that ended in bloodshed in 1999. Every year students commemorate this day. This year, there is a special commemoration. Iranians inside Iran are organising widespread demonstrations across the country in all major cities (More HERE). The people of Iran need the support of the international community in their uprising against the dictatorial Islamic regime.

Iran Press Service, July 17, 2004

Police forces, plainclothes men belonging to the conservatives-controlled pressure groups and special units of the Intelligence Ministry attacked students who were protesting peacefully in their dormitories the closure of a popular newspaper, setting rooms on fire, beating up students, throwing some of them out from windows killing one, namely Mr. Ezzat Ebrahim Nezhad and wounding score of others.

The attack triggered a wave of daily demonstrations by the students, demanding that “all those who ordered the attack and executed the orders” be identified and tried.
But as the protest movement became more radical and openly anti-regime, Ayatollah Ali Khameneh’i, the leader of the Islamic Republic, fearing for the survival of the regime, ordered revolutionary guards to crush the movement “at any cost”.
To the astonishment of the Iranians, President Mohammad Khatami approved the decision, regardless of the fact that he had been elected to the presidency thanks mainly to the massive votes of the students in particular and the young generation in general.

“For Iranian students, 18 Tir is the beginning of a turning point and the start of a process that marks the total lost of confidence to this political system”, Mr. Razavi-Faqih told Mr. Mohammad Reza Shahid, the correspondent in Paris for the Persian service of Voice of America.
“In fact, the brutal and savage attack on the dormitories, the crackdown on the demonstrations and the authorities failing to seriously identifying the attackers resulted in students and the Office for Consolidating Unity (OCU) to reach the conclusion that the attack was aimed at suppressing the students movement and a rampant coup against the wishes of the population for reforms. It also proved that no one can expect justice from this regime and this system, as seen from the case of 18 Tir, leaving no alternative but calling on international organizations, the United Nations and other human rights bodies to put pressure on the Islamic Republic to respect the rights of its citizens”, he added.

He was referring to the letter the OCU, which is the Iranian students largest organization, had sent to Mr. Kofi Annan, United Nations General Secretary, demanding to intervene with Tehran on their behalf and pressing the authorities to identify the authors of the 8 July “massacre”.

Update: July 28

Obama has now finished his trip abroad and returned to the campaign trail. Unfortunately, by advancing the notion of negotiation with Iran's despotic leaders (as opposed to launching a war) he become persona non grata to the Iranian resistance.

This morning's post from Serendip is bitter and heart-rending.

I must congratulate all the appeasers and liberals who still work hand in hand with the despots in Iran. But it is only fair to see some statistics and feel the “Blood money”, and then perhaps there may be some conscience left to react to those who still sing in favor of this regime.

This morning, according to Government controlled media, 29 people, mostly youth, who were arrested during night surges in recent unrests, were hanged by the neck in Tehran.The state-run news agency Mehr quoted the prosecutor general as saying, "The entire legal procedure has been exhausted on their cases at highest levels and they will be hanged."The Irony is that these 29 so called “criminals” were hanged exactly in conjunction with the anniversary of massacre of 30,000 political prisoners in 1988 (supporters of the main opposition MKO/PMOI).

Photos of the hangings and descriptions of those being hanged are at the link.

On June 10, the mullahs executed a 17-year-old boy named Mohammad Hassan-Zadeh in the northwestern city of Sanandaj for a crime he had allegedly committed when he was only 14.--According to the rights groups 114 youths face gallows for the crimes allegedly committed when they were minors.

The youngest is a 13-year-old boy named Ahmad Nowroozi sentenced to death by the mullahs' judiciary three years ago in the southeastern province of Sistan and Baluchistan.

Eight women and a man are waiting to be stoned to death. Under mullahs' penal codes, an individual sentenced to death by stoning, if a man should be buried up to his waist, while a woman is buried up to her neck. Stones are thrown until the condemned dies.

As I read these accounts and the painful cries like those described here I cannot imagine why anyone would want to be the American president, especially in this time of world-wide political instability that makes the painful conditions in Iran, terrible as they are, one of many open sores all over the world. Burma, Zimbabwe, Sudan and North Korea come to mind.

Hopefully the next president will be more successful than the one we now have as "first among equals," leading the world as well as the United States. It should be clear by now to those in charge that whup-ass is not the most effective of foreign policies. I wish I felt better about the same understanding on the part of the electorate.

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