Epitome of Change

August 31, 2009

Editor's Note: The following is a preview of the author's new book: "Iran: The Green Movement."

In the past months Iran has experienced the epitome of what one would consider to be a raging political war, ignited by the allegedly fraudulent "democratic" presidential election that was held on June 12, 2009. In hopes to gain international attention, many Iranian civilians have challenged Iran's clerical regime (the Islamic Republic) by continuous rebellion through demonstrations, protests, and outright defiance directed at the Iranian government. In reaction to this defiance, the hard-line Iranian leaders have made efforts to stop all noncompliant behavior by brutal, coercive force.

As this book takes shape through an in depth discussion of the post-election events of the 2009 presidential election, it is important to note that it follows a story that is not yet complete. In other words, this is a story without an ending. I have always found it difficult to write a book that lacks an ending; the place where ideas can be "wrapped up" and conclusions can be stated. It is obvious, in support of the Iranian people, that many people hope this story never has an ending- but rather that the "Green Movement" continues on and achieves democratic change in the lives of the Iranian people and the country of Iran.

Before we can understand the potential implications and ramifications of the Iranian people's current struggle for power, it is crucial to know the history that these events have evolved from. It is a history as unique and ever-changing as the Iranian culture itself. The civilians of Iran are not the same, in regards to beliefs and ideologies, as the civilians of the 1980s and 1990s; and yet these civilians were far different than those that lived in Iran before the Shah was overthrown in 1979. All generations of Iranian people have displayed their nationalism, pride and fight for freedom in diverse and distinct ways; however their objective has been more or less the same.

It's important to remember that as you read this book there is still a constant struggle happening in Iran. As long as the structure of government, what some call a falsified "democracy," still stands………

Chapter 3 - Dawn of the Uprisings

The morning of July 9th, 1999 was said by many to be a normal summer day on the campus of Tehran University. By this point in time, the students had formed many political student organizations in attempt to gain support for their fight for basic human rights and separation of powers between church and state. There were no visible indications of major student uprising or physical political dissidence; but there were the ordinary cases of many students protesting, in a peaceful manner, on the campus of Tehran University.

News of the approved court-order, in regards to the closing of the Salam newspaper, didn't take long to spread throughout the student population at Tehran University. The Salam was a reformist newspaper that was published daily and read by many Iranian civilians. The government claimed that Salam had published a letter in the paper that threatened "national oppositionists" and revealed the murders of five other oppositionists; otherwise known as reform activists. The government viewed this printing as encouraging dissidence within the public population. The leaking of this information, by Salam, heightened the governments fear that this would cause an increase in student dissent. To remind the citizens how hard-line the Theocracy is, the Salam was ordered to shut down immediately.

To the students and other political activists, this was the breaking point. In their minds, this was the last time their right to freedom of speech would be violated by the Islamic Republic. The time had come for the student population, among others, to unite and create solid stand against for their recognition of their human and civil rights. It is important to recognize that this generation of Iranians, almost every civilian under the age of 30, does not feel the least bit aligned with the ideologies or practices of the Islamic Republic. They live in a country that doesn't represent their generation in anyway whatsoever….

Chapter 7 - A Prelude to the Green Movement

'The Iranians are suffering from the policies in the last four years, they have been humiliated all over the world and I really feel sorry for these people."
- Mir-Hossein Mousavi

The last four years (2005-2009) have been worse than ever for Iranian civilians due to the reign of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Historically, most presidents have acted as "counterweights" to the extreme ideologies of the Supreme Leader but unfortunately Ahmadinejad made those ideologies even more of a reality for the people of Iran by echoing them. Angry at the previous four years of Ahmadinejad's presidency, the Iranian civilians, mainly the "student population, were determined to stop the re-election of Ahmadinejad in the 2009 election (In Iran the presidential term is four years in length and a person can only serve two consecutive terms).

Iranian society has changed dramatically over the past 30 years, and bears little resemblance either to the expectations of or the picture painted by the leadership of the Islamic Republic. Indeed, as much as the ruling clerics like to project self-confidence and the ability to predict the future, they could not have envisaged a society with these characteristics. While many of these surprising developments have occurred because of the policies of the Islamic Republic, others have occurred despite or regardless of them. If our picture of Iran prior to 1979 was so positive that we could not imagine anything negative happening inside the country, our picture of Iran today is so negative that we cannot imagine anything positive taking place. Yet, as this essay shows, some government policies have been pragmatic and beneficial to society…..

Chapter 11 – Demonstrations in the Streets

At 8:00 a.m. Iranian media announced that 18 million votes when to Ahmadinejad and 9 million went to Mousavi. About 250,000 votes each went to the other two candidates, Mehdi Karroubi and Mohsen Rezai.

Protestors against the success of Ahmadinejad and those celebrating that victory poured into the streets. Intense demonstrations brought the Iranian police who used batons and tear gas to stop the clash that followed. Demonstrators declared Ahmadinejad stole the election. It was reported that at least one person had been shot in Vanak Square in Tehran and automobiles were overturned and burned in the street.

Mousavi stated that he rejected the election results and encouraged supporters to fight them but he also urged them to be calm and patient. He did not appear the rest of the day and many thought he may have been arrested. Ayatollah Khamenei did not give heed to pleas for intervention or appeals. He just congratulated Ahmadinejad and asked the other candidates to give him their support.

More demonstrators took to the streets of Tehran during the afternoon. Women, youth, students and members of the moderate clerical establishment took to the streets in the thousands chanting and wearing the bright green campaign colors of Mousavi. Tehran wasn't the only city seeing this kind of unrest. Because of the activities universities were closed, cell phone transmissions remained blocked and many websites were shut down for a second day.

The government vehemently proclaimed that the vote had not been rigged. That although Mousavi had a great deal of support from students and other youth in the city of Tehran, he had little support from the people outside of the city. Rumors flew that for every 3,000 votes for Mousavi only 1,000 were counted. It was said that the government had been planning fraud for weeks prior to the election. There was also talk that the ballots had been misleading….

The Struggle Continues..

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Copyright ©2009 Slater Bakhtavar

Slater Bakhtavar is an attorney, journalist, author, and political commentator. He is the author of “Iran: The Green Movement”. He has appeared on hundreds of network radio shows, including G. Gordon Liddy, Crosstalk America, Les in the Morning, NPR, Jim Bohannon Show, and VOA.