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Iranian protest is grassroots and unstoppable, say activists

Posted by Zand-Bon on Dec 30th, 2009 and filed under Feature Articles. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

By Martin Fletcher

December 30, 2009


Iran’s panicking regime is once again seeking to suppress the Green Movement by decapitating it.

Just as it did after June’s hotly-disputed presidential election, it is arresting high-profile reformists, academics and journalists who support the opposition.

It hesitates to detain Mir Hossein Mousavi lest millions of his supporters take to the streets, but it has locked up his brother-in-law and is widely suspected of killing his nephew. It cannot arrest Shirin Ebadi, the Nobel laureate, as she is abroad, but it has imprisoned her sister.

The tactic will prove as futile now as it did in June. Decapitation will not work because the opposition is a bottom-up movement run not by Mr Mousavi or Mehdi Karroubi, its nominal leaders, but by its grassroots members. It is a massive campaign of civil disobedience.

“Ahmadinejad, Khamenei and the Revolutionary Guards still don’t get it,” said one Iranian academic. “The Green Movement is a decentralised popular front run by local cells and local leaderships across the country. The main opposition figures do not control it. They are spiritual leaders, but do not provide any direction in regard to demonstrations or slogans.”

For the most part the demonstrations are spontaneous outpourings of anger. Decapitating the movement will not stop them, nor stop the defacing of banknotes with anti-government slogans, the daubing of anti-government graffiti on walls, the boycott of goods advertised on the state-controlled media or the shouting of “Allahu akbar” from rooftops at night.

Iranians are doing these things not because they are told to, but because they choose to. For a reviled regime that rules by diktat, that has to bus in supporters to fill its rallies, that must be a difficult concept to grasp.

Protests are now common not just in Tehran, but in conservative cities such as Mashad and Qom. The regime’s use of violence during the holy month of Muharram, its lack of respect for Grand Ayatollah Hussein Ali Montazeri after his recent death, and other sacriligious acts have eroded its support among the pious poor.

One activist said: “Do Khamenei, Ahmadinejad and the elite of the Revolutionary Guards really think that I, or anyone else, after being beaten by the police, witnessing the murder of Iranians on the streets, hearing stories of rape and murder in the prisons, and knowing of electoral cheating, will ever remain passive and quiet? None of us will ever accept the rule of Ahmadinejad and Khamenei after what they have done.”

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    [...] 31. Dezember 2009 — Thomas v. der Osten-Sacken Iranian protest is grassroots and unstoppable, say activists. By Martin Fletcher Veröffentlicht in Hintergrund. Kommentar schreiben [...]

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