Saturday, June 20, 2009

Mousavi, protestors not backing down

As thousands of police, pro-government militia and troops clamped down hard on protesters in Tehran and other cities, it appears that the Iranian freedom movement and its key leader, Mir Hossain Mousavi, are not backing down.

Mousavi told a rally of his supporters in southern Tehran that he is "ready for martyrdom" and called for a general strike if he is arrested.

In a lengthy statement, Mousavi also said the following:

As I am looking at the scene, I see it set for advancing a new political agenda that spreads beyond the objective of installing an unwanted government. As a companion who has seen the beauties of your green wave, I will never allow any one’s life endangered because of my actions. At the same time, I remain undeterred on my demand for annulling the election and demanding people’s rights.


Be sure that I will always stand with you. What this brother of yours recommends, especially to the dear youth, in terms of finding new solutions is to not allow liars and cheater steal your flag of defense of Islamic state, and foreigners rip the treasures of the Islamic republic which are your inheritance of the blood of your decent fathers.


We advise the authorities, to calm down the streets. Based on article 27 of the constitution, not only provide space for peaceful protest, but also encourage such gatherings. The state TV should stop badmouthing and taking sides. Before voices turn into shouting, let them be heard in reasonable debates. Let the press criticize, and write the news as they happen. In one word, create a free space for people to express their agreements and disagreements.
Amen to that. Read the whole translated Mousavi statement here.

A close-up view from the violent streets is provided by New York Times columnist Roger Cohen who has somehow slipped the regime's noose and is reporting from Tehran. He tells a story of defiance of "Supreme Leader" Ali Khamenei that has now turned into a lasting delegitimization of the leader's religious and political authority:

Dark smoke billowed over this vast city in the late afternoon. Motorbikes were set on fire, sending bursts of bright flame skyward. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader, had used his Friday sermon to declare high noon in Tehran, warning of “bloodshed and chaos” if protests over a disputed election persisted.

He got both on Saturday — and saw the hitherto sacrosanct authority of his office challenged as never before since the 1979 revolution birthed the Islamic Republic and conceived for it a leadership post standing at the very flank of the Prophet. A multitude of Iranians took their fight through a holy breach on Saturday from which there appears to be scant turning back.
By factionalizing himself and throwing his lot in with the hardliners, Khamenei has lost his aura of the leader of the whole nation:

The taboo-breaking response was unequivocal. It’s funny how people’s obsessions come back to bite them. I’ve been hearing about Khamenei’s fear of “velvet revolutions” for months now. There was nothing velvet about Saturday’s clashes. In fact, the initial quest to have Moussavi’s votes properly counted and Ahmadinejad unseated has shifted to a broader confrontation with the regime itself.
Finally, one of the latest messages sent from inside Iran via Twitter (at dawn in Tehran) said this: "again it is dawn-we go to pray- pls pppl of the world pray with us - God is but one - Allah of all creation."

Amen to that too.

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