Wednesday, June 17, 2009

"They are killing us all!"

There is an incredible and detailed first-hand account at Salon from a Tehran protester whose name was withheld for "reasons of personal safety". It details the swings between a festive mood and outright fear that Iranians are feeling from one moment to the next. The entire account is worth reading, but here are some tidbits that stood out for me: (all emphasis mine)
In the crowd there are families, young and old. One cannot help but notice the large presence of women of all ages. The typical daily life of the capital is out here together, the homes, sidewalks and boulevards abandoned for this shared space. There is word that the crowd is millions strong; we know that it stretches eastward to Imam Hussein Square.
All does not end well. Seeing the camera around my neck, several people rush up to me, frantically urging me to go take pictures, shouting, "They are killing us all!" Behind a wall, in an alleyway set off from the road, a confrontation is taking place between one spike of the crowd and basiji forces, holed up in a base. There is the unsettling pop-pop-pop of gunfire, and a plume of black smoke rises into the sky. A crowd is gathering in the alley and men rush forward to throw rocks while others tell them, "Stop, stop, that's what they want!"

To stop this now would take a tremendous display of violence and thus far, blessedly, that has not happened. And every day everyone says that in a few days the protests will be stopped, and what's the point of going out, but when the moment comes everyone is here.

In the late afternoon and lasting until around dinner time it is a place of peaceful civic celebration, a Disneyland of political action for the whole family to participate. At night, the mood shifts abruptly, and the capital becomes a battleground, a city in which fear stalks on motorbikes mounted in helmeted pairs.

Here in Canada meanwhile, the prospect of getting our apathetic asses to the polls for a summer vote is deemed so dreadful, our Opposition Leader has capitulated completely to a government he himself describes as incompetent. What a pushover. Frankly, I would have preferred this outcome.

- 30 -

1 comment:

Simon said...

Hi Scott...good post...I share those feelings of joy and fear from the safety of over here. I am awed by the courage of the pro-democracy demonstrators. But with all the brutish security forces in Iran I fear for their safety. I shudder to think what might happen.
I did read something quite interesting the other day though. The Shia martyr cult makes every dead person a powerful symbol. It was the crackdown by the Shah's army that created thousands of martyrs that led to the uprising that brought him down. So who knows where this is going but I'm hoping for the best...
As for the home front I think I'll stay out of that one eh? I'm determined to be a martyr for the unity of the left. And they don't call me Saint Cinnamon for nothing ;)