Lounging langourously on a Sunday afternoon, I received the following on my BlackBerry. It’s a letter from a friend in Tehran who asks their name and profession not be published. Having subsequently spoken to other friends in Tehran (social networking, SMS, and other tricks of youth have been shut down…unless you know a hack or two), the anger on the streets is as thick as the smog on the motorways.
Whether they feel this is a “revolution” is an issue for debate. Do they want to overthrow Ahmadinejad or the Ayatollah? What is clear is that they feel the democracy they were offered was ersatz. That the powers that be (in this case, the incumbent) held an election they’d already determined the result for and took the people along for a ride to make it look good.
Opposition candidate and reformist Mir Hossein Musavi has launched a formal appeal to cancel the election results announced in favour of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad by the Interior Ministry. His appeal was lodged with the Guardian Council, a group appointed by the Supreme Leader whose remit is to interpret and implement Iran’s constitution.
Meanwhile, Musavi’s wife Zahra has called for peaceful demonstrations across 20 cities from 1600h local time on Monday and a national strike on Tuesday.
Given reports of deaths, beatings, and missing from anti-Ahmadinejad protests in Rasht, Qom, Tehran and other Iranian cities, nobody is sure how many people will answer her call.
As one pro-Musavi voter said “I’m very angry with myself for being fooled so easily. They got us to vote, which gives them legitimacy. Then they manipulated the results.”
My friends in Iran are of the literati – artists, writers, journalists, teachers. They fear chain murders – murders and disappearances of those critical of the religious regime. The last time such killings came to the fore was as a reaction to the election of pro-reform president Mohammad Khatami in 1997.
Their fears are real. Almost all of them have been either under official surveillance, arrested on bogus charges, detained for indeterminate sentences, bullied by the Basij, received death threats etc etc.
What my friend has written isn’t much, but it is a voice among many that is crying out for something new… even though those voices aren’t clear what form that reform should take. As another friend said, “Anything. Anything but this.”
Yesterday, after coming back to my studio from the street revolts, we saw that they blocked all satellite TV. All the internet sites like YouTube, Facebook and… and maybe more. All blocked.
Internet speed was reduced from 128k to 12k. I tried to send you a video of streets to publish on YouTube and… but it is impossible.
They bit and hit people and young on the streets. They fear our power. We trusted them but they abused our votes. We could never imagine such pig minds.
I just sent you this and hope you try spreading this news. Not just from me but from all Iranian freedom seekers. They are banning us. They make us fear and keep us silent.
I cannot be associated with this letter. Or with anything else I send you. Have you heard of chain murders? This is what I fear. Some Muslims. Individuals. The Basij. They call around, find a person easily and cut his neck at night.
Even the person we voted for [Musavi, Karroubi] told us to “be silent because this government has no fear to tear your breasts and spill your blood in all of Persia’s rivers”. The person we voted for asked us to be silent. To forget. He said these people are not Muslim. They are liars.
The police here are like wolves. Religious people in neighbourhoods laugh at and disrespect us as non-Iranian. It is hard.
The government blocked YouTube to stop many Iranians from publishing videos of dangerous streets. We have our ways around this. For now.
The police and the basij set fires and broke into banks at night to say we, the people, did this. But the people are doing nothing wrong, nothing criminal. We are shocked. We are angry. We just want to know where our votes went. We elected one man and they empowered another. The only people who don’t agree with this are the liars who are scared to lose their regime and their control.