Translator’s note: On December 27, 2009, the democratic opposition movement’s commemoration of Ashura, a Shia day of mourning, turned into street-by-street battles in Tehran. Hundreds of thousands, including whole families, used stones, bricks and trash can fires to fight the heavily armed anti-riot police and guards. Over five hundred were arrested, 38 were killed and hundreds were injured. Since then over 2000 opposition activists have been arrested. Some have been charged as “enemies of God,” and face execution. The government also orchestrated a large counter-march in Tehran on December 30. Below are two brief assessments of the December 27 and the December 30 events. The first is by a young student who expresses the deep determination to challenge the regime’s brutality. The other is by a journalist and blogger who reveals that the government’s forces cannot be underestimated. For more information on the mass arrests of opposition activists, please see the English language website of the Committee of Human Rights Reporters ( http://www.schrr.net/index-en.php) and the website of the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran (http://www.iranhumanrights.org/)
I Detest Death
Author: Kamyab Giveh Key
Translated by Frieda Afary
December 31, 2009
. . . For a long time, university students have been the vanguard of resistance to the oppressive government. Now however, the people are fed up. Regardless of their job or age, they do not think silence is permissible any longer. During the recent demonstrations, we saw whole families participating in the protests. Those who saw this passion as a barrier to their dictatorial and totalitarian behavior, broke any restraint and created a bloody Ashura.
How can a government which claims to be Islamic, slaughter people during the month of Muharram? [In the Islamic calendar, Muharram is considered a sacred month in which fighting is prohibited –tr] . . .
After massacring our countrymen and women, the government once again assigned its media establishment to communicate the old scenario. This threadbare scenario which attributes all events to troublemakers, the U.S., Britain and their agents, is no longer considered believable by the people.
The government gathered all its communication strength to exaggerate its orchestrated demonstration on Wednesday [December 30, 2009 –tr]. It devoted more than 60 hours of television and radio programs to advertising its call for participation in this march. They forced all government office workers to participate. Even the Department of Science, Research and Technology issued a memorandum to order the universities to do everything necessary to facilitate the participation of all professors and students. They “recruited” high school students to perform acts in front of their cameras. They even brought people from other cities to Tehran . . .
These dictators consider themselves God’s representatives on earth. So much so that they even announce a deadline for those who wish to recant. They have carried shamelessness to such extremes that they encourage people to become informants. . .
The spirit of resistance to oppression gained by our people, no longer allows them to be silent in the face of injustice, murder and rape. . .
A Good Demonstration
Author: Arman Amiri
Translated by Frieda Afary
December 30, 2009
I observed today’s gathering completely. . . It was a crowd of several hundred thousand (I reckon that 300,000 would be realistic) I have no doubt that it was one of the largest gatherings of the regime supporters. I cannot make a judgment as to where this crowd had come from. Here I would simply like to express several observations:
1. They were severely insulting Mousavi and then Khatami. However, their eyes glared with hatred only when they spoke of Hashemi Rafsanjani. . . They weren’t insulting Karroubi. They mainly made fun of him.
2. I have never liked to issue an undifferentiated judgment about a crowd. However, this time I will do so because my judgment is more realistic than ever. This crowd was “rootless.” Don’t take this as an insult. I’m not referring to a stigma but a painful condition. I saw many rootless slum dwellers. Many were still poor. Many others had thrived economically thanks to government subsidies and rent-seeking. However, from a cultural point of view, they were rootless. They did not believe in anything. On the surface, they were religious. However, upon the first encounter, you realized that they were not religious or traditional. They used truly “vulgar” language. Their behavior was shameless or obscene.
I have lived among traditional and religious families. They would never act in such a way. [Those in this crowd –tr] were wearing chadors or had beards but were lewd, and did not feel ashamed of laughing out loud during the commemoration of the death of Imam Hossein. They would be willing to trample on each other’s dead bodies in order to grab a bottle of milk or juice or a muffin. . .
3. The speaker became enraged at the participants and screamed, “Be quiet. I am making an argument.” That was very interesting to me. He was really trying to make an argument. They were really making an effort to base themselves on the statistics of the jurisprudents of the Council of Experts from twenty years ago, in order to prove that Khamenei was suitable for leadership. The speaker was definitely not trying to simply instigate people and use their excitement. It seemed to me that they have understood well that immediate excitement is no longer effective. The foundations of the regime are truly shaky. It needs “argumentation.” . . .
. . . There were plenty of torn pictures of Khomeini, Khamenei, Chamran, Hemmat and Bakeri in the gutters and on the street. As the poet says: “No one gave a damn.”
[Mustafa Chamran was a former commander of Revolutionary Guards or Pasdaran, and a Defense Minister. Mohammad Ibrahim Hemmat and Hamid Bakeri were army commanders. All were killed during the Iran-Iraq War –tr]