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A View from the Frontline

25 Jun 2009 22:0939 Comments
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Last week, a group of friends and I organized a medical team to help the wounded and injured in the streets. As we sewed up gashes and patched up wounds on the beautiful battered faces of our dear Iranians, we kept asking ourselves, "What have they become? Have they no regard for the life for a fellow human being? For the life of a fellow countryman? For the life of a neighbor? For the life of a cousin? For the life of a brother? For the life of a sister?"

It wasn't long before Basij militiamen took away our identity cards. After reporting us to the university, I was called in by a disciplinary committee and reprimanded. I was told I had put my future career and even my life in jeopardy. I was told to think about the consequences of my actions.

As I left the committee members, the events of the past two weeks fell into place:

The government had a plan. They thought their plan was perfect. They had devised a perfect fraud in which regardless of how people voted, only one name would emerge as the winner: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

It was to be the start of an era of unopposed rule.

By creating the appearance of a free and open atmosphere, by creating hope of change, people would turnout in high numbers. A high turnout at the ballot boxes would give them an aura of legitimacy in the eyes of the world. It would give Ahmadinejad a mandate.

But they made a fatal miscalculation; they underestimated the people.

When the results were announced, nobody in their right mind believed them. Even the most optimistic of Ahmadinejad supporters didn't believe he could win by such a margin.

This prompted widespread unrest. For the first time in the history of the Islamic Republic the ruling establishment had to contend with masses in the streets. These masses had not been dragged there by intimidation or by promise of a reward. For the first time the masses were not chanting pro-government slogans.

This was something entirely new; it was a nation rising up in defiance of all the tricks the government has been pulling over the years.

Despite their miscalculation, the supreme leader and the revolutionary guard elites were not ready to make any concessions; they knew too well. Even a single step back would have been a starting point from where things would cascade down to the eventual breakdown of their perfect autocracy.

So they took a firm stand against the very people who had brought them to power 30 years ago. History will be the judge but I believe that this was their second and most fatal miscalculation. You can never put out a fire by beating it, the flames may wane but underneath the ashes will go on burning. Wheels have been set in motion. A vast movement has started to take place. In time, the tide will turn.

In February 1979, during the time of the revolution, the army chiefs decided to prevent bloodshed and a civil war, so they refused to crack down on the demonstrators. They were thanked for this by swift executions that took place as soon as the revolutionaries came to power.

Sepah, or the Revolutionary Guard, is apparently determined not to go down the same path.

The decision of the current government to brutally crack down on the protesters and demonstrators led to the massacre of June 20, 2009, a day that will go down in history as the Black Saturday of the Islamic Republic. Thirty years ago, 17 Shahrivar 1357 [September 8, 1978], the Pahlavi Regime made the same fatal mistake. That Black Friday was the turning point from which the Pahlavi Regime never recovered.

We had hoped for a swift and decisive victory, first in the election and then through our defiance, but our high hopes were crushed with bullets, batons and tear gas. Now the mood is that of defeat, anguish and despair.

Fear has crept in and taken hold. Everybody now speaks in whispers. We are depressed and hopeless. Perhaps the main reason everyone feels so down is that before the election we had such high hopes. We flew too high and then fell down or rather were brought down by Basij and anti-riot police.

This struggle has had its toll on us all. I have never seen so many people grieving. This is a social malaise. At the personal level, each of us still feels robbed of our vote, our freedom, our friends, our brothers and our sisters.

We are disillusioned, battered and betrayed. Many are talking about leaving the country. Many young souls are looking for the first exit. Emigration perhaps. A mass exodus may be under way.

In the past few days, I have been feeling down and depressed. I had a sense that all was lost, and the frequent rains, which are extremely unusual for this time of year, added to the sense of melancholy overcoming me. My uncle, who experienced the revolution, told me however, "Evolution takes time. This was just a start; in time things will change."

I hope so.

Politics and power are dirty things, much more so than depicted by Romain Gary in "L'Homme a la colombe." Even so, the protagonist, also a young soul, emerges victorious. We are sacrificing ourselves to make a statement, which the corrupt politicians ignore and the mass media manipulates. But people, generation after generation, pass this on from heart to heart as a slogan for integrity, bravery and freedom.

Maybe this will be our legacy. Maybe years from now, we will recount the stories of these days to the generation after us as the turning point that made all the difference, if not in our lives, perhaps at least in theirs.

Copyright (c) 2009 Tehran Bureau

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39 Comments

we are proud of you man,keep your heads up. the might win now and keep the country but it wont be for a long time.

farid / June 25, 2009 6:30 PM

Thank you for this very brave account of what's going on, and how you are feeling about it. That is totally natural, and you must be asking yourself is it worth it?


I am sure from the bottom of my heart that it is worth it. Yes we in the west are not taking the blows, and facing the bullets. But there is a certainty here that the regime is finished. You may have find creative ways to continue - oil & other national strikes, traffic driving at go slow - especially on motorways!


Every act that the regime does is that of a desperate and dying system.


We are constantly hearing of deep division right through the regime - and in famous words spoken long ago "A house divided against itself cannot stand"


You may not have been prepared for this, and it may have come so much sooner that anyone could have imagined - but for the sake of the people of Iran you must and you will win.


You are so brave, and what you say the fire will not go out - it may die down for a while, but what I am constantly hearing is that sooner rather than later it will burst into flames and consume this evil and corrupt system.


Our prayers for your safety and freedom are daily.


Don't give up too soon. Keep getting your message heard, they might have the weapons, you have the victory - that is sure! This regimes days are numbered, and that number is very small.

David / June 25, 2009 6:31 PM

Come on guys, keep your heads up. Take your freedom. You can do it. BELIEVE!

said / June 25, 2009 6:47 PM

(spelled wrong. please delete previous post)

Stay strong. Don't let their violence take away your spirit. You will win this fight, you're too many to be defeated.


Tell us what to do. Should we provide international phone numbers for unfiltered internet access? Should we take down websites? Should we provide more proxies or Tor bridges? Add more satellites for unfiltered satellite phone access? Should we invade the country?


Stay strong. Stay organized. Teach everyone riot tactics. Give eachother hope, tell yourselves you will win this. Be safe. Be intelligent. Be brave.


I have so much hope in your protests, and that I one day can return to Iran and feel the kindness and hospitality that the people there have showed me before. I love Iran!

Anonymous / June 25, 2009 6:49 PM

Don't, don't be down hearted. You and you countrymen and women have made great strides in really very little time. There has been progress today; significant progress.

I want you to know, though it means little, I have hardly slept, many many people around the world have hardly slept; just to keep up with you brave and fearless Iranians. There will be disappointments and weariness, but look for those small wins. But don't settle, don't you settle for less than all that you deserve. This part, this violence will end soon, it will.


My dream for Iranians is to keep at it and make their country the way they want it, part of the world, peaceful. There's huge amounts of corruption and whatever to clear out. Maybe that is what will wait for your children, but this part, this part you can win. Everyday, in every way the world, I, find more and more to admire, cherish. You see, you give us ALL hope. There are so many prayers offered everynight, so much inspiration.


Take heart. Take a deep breath....and keep marching.


I can't link things, but go to this site: it's really lovely, what he wrote for you.


http://iphone.dailymotion.com/BernardHL/video/16237124


Message to the Young People of Iran by Bernard-Henri Levy

Against Khamenei, Ahmadinejad, their Basijis, theirRevolutionary Guards, against thedeathsquadsand the fanatical mullahs of Tehran, the young peopleof Iran have won: the democratic revolution has begun. With your iphone and everywhere in the world:

DellaRae / June 25, 2009 6:59 PM

Please come to our countries. We will take care of you. Your country doesn't deserve you.

Where'sTheirVote? / June 25, 2009 7:09 PM

Please know that the world is watching.


Bravely you have protested, sent images to us and in spite of threats you still write. So now the world is your witness and we know what you are writing today is the truth.


We are in pain with you as we join you in bearing witness to the history as you tell us: June 20, 2009 will forever be a turning point in Iranian history. PEOPLE POWER!


Please remember the life of Gandhi, Mandela, and Martin Luther King and how patient and persistent they were in spite of the Establishment trying to crush them.


Please know that the truth will prevail; justice will done if people persist, stay strong and peaceful.


You have our gratitude, our tremendous admiration and respect and our love.

Jeannette / June 25, 2009 7:54 PM

shomaahaa sheer hasteen, oona gorg; yek galleh az oona, baa aslahe, baayad be jaane yekee az shoma bioftan ke hareef beshan


faghat baa ham baasheen; na khodetaanraa gom koneed, na omeedetaan


oona az avval shekast khordeh boodan; az vahm va vahshateshoon eentor jenaayat meekonan


"aanhaa ke meetarsand zarfiate eshgh nadaarand; eshgh faghat haghe daleeran hast" - Gandhi


"maraa AASHEGH chenaan baayad

ke har baary ke bar kheezad

GHIAAMAT HAAYE POR AATASH

ZE HAR SOOIE BARANGEEZAD


delee khaaheem cho oon doozakh

ke doozakh raa FOROO SOOZAD

dosad daryaa beshooraanad

ZE MOAJE BAHR NAPARHEEZAD"

azadiparast / June 25, 2009 8:05 PM

You have no idea how much of a difference you have made already. You have stood up to the regime, and it will never be the same again. All the middle east commentators here agree: they could never have imagined it could happen, but it did. You changed the course of Iran's destiny.


And in just a week you have entirely changed American impressions of Iran. There are more Americans worried and concerned and wanting to help you than you can imagine. And others around the world.


Today, it was announced that President Obama was sending an ambassador to Syria, a place where the US has not had an ambassador for over four years, and many think it was to send a signal to Khamenei and others in Iran to stop the violence against protesters. Yesterday, President Obama rescinded (took back) invitations the US had previously made to Iranian diplomats to attend celebrations for a major American holiday at embassies around the world. These are small actions, but they demonstrate America's desire to help you in every way we possibly can right now, without hurting your cause.


There are stories too that in Iran a person of high rank in the Revolutionary Guard voluntarily gave up his position because he did not want to carry out attacks on protestors. These are not small things.


Fear, anguish and despair are totally understandable given what you have had to endure since June 20th. We have watched on awe to see how courageous and determined you were to fight for your cause no matter how much they came after you with the Basij, with their arms, with their force and violence. We have been in awe, truly.


And we have been horrified at how far the regime has been willing to go to suppress your voices. And for what, for an election result that was a fraud. I agree with your description of their miscalculations. I think they failed to appreciate the spirit and courage of its youth.


So, feel sadness, I cannot imagine how much you must have had to see suffering, and loss, in the last week. But do not despair. We are all standing ready to help you. And you have changed the world - your world, but also in some way ours. And you have done that in just one week.


That is not something to despair about.


The regime has come down as hard as they have because they know their survival is on the line. And they might have been able to succeed before with this tactic, but not this time, because this time because of your brave photographs and posts and emails, the world was watching. And the world is still watching. And your cause will not fail. Because you are no longer alone in this.


Our media continue to watch what is happening in Iran every day; they are important stories in the tv news; and front page stories in the papers. When President Obama had a press conference earlier this week, it was the primary thing people wanted to ask him about. And he made a special point to have a question posed to him that originally came from an Iranian in Iran.


I know you must wonder if you can win. From here, I can tell you, you already have. It just may take some time for the walls to fall down; the cracks are now there.


And, the unity, and joy, and love, you have shown one another, including in the example you provide with your own story, have been inspirational.


Don't be afraid. Don't be afraid. We are all together. - my favorite of your protest chants. Don't despair, we are now with you too.

susan / June 25, 2009 8:24 PM

Ahmadinejad won the election the basij are only trying to protect the nation from the great saten - the united states which will try to destroy iran, much like it destroyed iraq. Death to America! Support your true leader Ahmadinejad!

Radical Guy / June 25, 2009 8:25 PM

This website is full of lies -- support your true leader of Iran - Ahmadinejad!

Radical Guy / June 25, 2009 8:30 PM

Thank you for telling us what is really happening. My heart goes out to you.


Radical guy can't see the truth that people around the world can see very clearly. What is also evident is that the great fear of the autocracy is spilling into violence in the streets. If the your "leaders" did not fear the truth, they would not be killing their brothers and sisters to protect their fearful, priviledged lives.


As hard as it must be for you, please don't let their fear be your fear. You are heros!


Please, we fight with in spirit!

Greg Young / June 25, 2009 9:06 PM

Excerpt copied with permission from the author... to give you hope and strength

Copyright (c) Bruce Holland Rogers. All rights reserved. www.shortshortshort.com.


We Stand Up

By Bruce Holland Rogers


From the beginning, they've made us pay.


...


They knocked us down with stones, and we stood up. They shot us down with guns, and we stood up. The rode at us on motorcycles, swinging pipes, knocked us down, and we stood up. With empty hands we stood up in front of tanks, and the tanks paused.


They have been beating us down so long that they've grown weary. "Enough," they say. They take off their helmets to wipe away the sweat. They wipe the blood from their batons. "Enough," they say. "Stay down."


We stand up.

Holly / June 25, 2009 9:43 PM

Radical guy, you are as blind and as thick faced as your masters. Cancer is eating up your system. Its about time that people like you and your masters ie. Ayatollah Khamenei, Ahmadenijad,mullahs, Revolutionary Guards, and the Basij vanish from this earth. You all have no place here but the hades.


Our love and prayers for the freedom loving Iranians. Be brave and safe.

shetty / June 25, 2009 9:47 PM

Please know that we support you. The reason Bush would never consider invading Iran is because he hoped it would come from within. I pray it will. I may not like what happened in Iraq, but I'm glad that hideous, evil man is gone and I pray that the Iraqis will be able to have freedom and democracy and have their religios freedom. I know the two countries have been against each other for a long time, but they, too, deserve to have peace and freedom. I want this for Iran as well. Nothing is more important than your faith and freedom. I wish I could be there with you. I have friends from Iran and have members of my family who are Iranian. I pray for you and your countrymen. Allah Akbar - God is Great. Allah Akbar - God is Great. Allah I say this each morning and each night in honor of you brave people who sacrifice so much. Also, God Bless you all, and bring you peace.

tcmora1953 / June 25, 2009 9:57 PM

As long as I live !! I will never forget and always support your struggle for freedom, even if it takes generations. What you young Iranians did was so powerful and moving that I promise as an individual never to let your cause die! Young Iranians you can change the world and you already have! Never quit fighting for your freedom and the freedom of those around you! Always remember Neda and the countless others that were martyred for your cause! Even if it takes us years we will work together to make this world a better place! Even if we have to do it from the inside of the corridors of power, the evil that walks this earth will eventually get old and die! It would be my supreme pleasure to help them on their way! Remember they have to sleep some time, never let the Basiji and police that helped to commit these atrocities forget that! May they spend the rest of their lives fearing the knife that is coming to slit their throats in their sleep! Let them die from stress and fear not you! Use your anger! channel it! Be like a tree that finds the crack and grows until the foundation that the seed was planted on becomes nothing but rubble! I will never forget and I will never stop fighting for your FREEDOM!!!

Ghost / June 25, 2009 10:11 PM

Don't let Obama's timid response discourage you. He may be popular but he is entirely inexperienced. Americans are not cowards and we are in awe of you. Please know that the people of America stand with you.

Allan Stewart / June 25, 2009 10:22 PM

Freedom is never Free. Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness always comes with a price of "blood, toil, sweat and tears."


Each generation pays it's price and attempts to tell the next generation that one day their time will come to earn the Rights that their Creator endowed them with..


But each generation only understands that Freedom comes with a price when they learn the lessons themselves; when do their part to advance Freedom for themselves and by doing so, they contribute to the Freedom of others. When, by their courageous acts of defiance in the face of tyranny, brutality and the darkness of depression, they inspire the next generation to step up and act when their day of defending Freedom comes.


The Statue of Liberty holds a torch to light the way. The torch was passed this week to a new generation.


And so it has been since the beginning of time, and so it will be until the end of time. For, if Freedom were Free, what value would there be to it? We would not value something that came to us easily, for in the struggle, we find out what we are made of and who we are for each other.


Today, we are all Iranian. ---Harry Mason for the Freedom of all Mankind

Harry Mason / June 25, 2009 10:23 PM

To my unnamed Brother who wrote the moving Tehran Bureau article. The torch has been passed to you. I am honored to know you. You and those with you who those with you who are now carrying Freedom's torch inspire those of us who pray for your success and safety. Do not become martyrs... Live, Live, Live to fight on. --- Harry Mason

Harry Mason / June 25, 2009 10:29 PM

Thank you for your letter. To those in Iran who are working for freedom and democracy, Godspeed, Allah Akbar. Know that you and not alone; thousands upon thousands outside Iran pray for you, admire you and are grateful for you. Realize that you are sending out a message of goodness and justice to the entire world; this message imparts profound power. Remember, and draw strength through, those who have gone through great persecution and difficulty in the past; remember that life is a exquisite mystery. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, this speaks to the heart. Allah Akbar, this speaks to the heart. One day there will be democracy, freedom, and a healthy respect for differences, across the world. Do the work for you because it is aligned with what is good. Allah Akbar.

D. Astin / June 25, 2009 11:08 PM

To Those who cheat, steal, assault and kill their brothers and sisters for power and profit: your days are numbered. You may appear to be able to run from the truth for awhile, you may appear be able to hide behind a large corporation or state apparatus for awhile, but your days are numbered. May good healing be with you. Allah Akbar.

D. Astin / June 25, 2009 11:14 PM

Listen to and believe your Uncle! He is quite correct but in this time of technology and information it will come quicker than even he thinks.

Steve / June 25, 2009 11:21 PM

Iran and her people are in my thoughts. As I drove home today, listening to the radio news, I heard a woman's voice calling Allahu Akbar from the rooftops of Tehran all the way to Columbia, SC, USA. Her brave, determined voice came though loud and clear. The world really is watching, listening and hoping for better days ahead for Iran & her people.


Thank you for your webpage.

Michele / June 25, 2009 11:43 PM

Power to the People. Your bravery and courage are an inspiration for all of us. So happy to be standing up for what`s right. So sad to see you suffering because of it. Don`t give up. Make Iran a better place for your children.Our prayers are with you every night.I`ve been waking up at 4a.m. every morning here and can`t go back to sleep, knowing it is 4p.m Iran time. I hope you realize how many people care about yo. May you soon have Peace. From California, USA

mario / June 26, 2009 12:16 AM

You have changed everything. Not just for your own country, but for the world. We know who you are as a people now, and we stand beside you. Your leaders are so frightened of your power, that they send people like Radical Guy to try and undermine you.


Stay strong and brave. You are an inspiration.

Heidi / June 26, 2009 12:51 AM

I send you all I can give. My love and support in your struggle. The unfairness you endure pains me and I hope for progress and peace in your land.

Eric / June 26, 2009 3:31 AM

You guys need to separate church and state and start an honest democracy. Divorce yourselves from all organized religion. Forget all those nutty dudes in the robes and turbines that think they are arms of God. I feel like you average Iranians are good people, salt of the earth just like the rest of us poor folks around the world that go to work every day. I am rooting for you BIG TIME and I hope I can help some how some way....we are watching so closely

john / June 26, 2009 5:42 AM

please see my website for my video/music tributes to your glorious cause. freedom and fair election for iran shall be yours; they cannot keep you in their chains.


also see the youtube channel link on my site.


keep the faith!


UberSupreme Leader ZenShadow


http://microzen.tumblr.com/

zenshadow / June 26, 2009 7:36 AM

I am featuring your posts at Azadi4Iran.info so keep it up!

Thomas Ho / June 26, 2009 9:32 AM

Once we had to be ashamed having such a disgusting president, now the only one to be ashamed is Ahmadinejad the fake president. this is your merit and the merit of the million of iranians who risked everythink by taking their voices to the public. once again we are a proud nation. they they will never be able to take this away from us. those who fight for freedom and the souverignty of the people will never find themselves on the wrong side of history.

I find the words very appropriate that President Obama has used:

"When our days become dreary with low hovering clouds of despair, and when our nights become darker than a thousand midnights, let us remember that there is a creative force in this universe, working to pull down the gigantic mountains of evil, a power that is able to make a way out of no way and transform dark yesterdays into bright tomorrows. Let us realize the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice." - Martin Luther King Jr.

Kurosh / June 26, 2009 9:45 AM

At the end of the day all the traitors on this site will be forgotten. Long live Ahamadinejad! Long live Iran! Death to america!

Radical Guy / June 26, 2009 11:12 AM

I feel deep respect for you brave people, who risk so much for freedom. My thoughts are with you and i am sure you will succeed. Never in history a repressive system could survive - they all collapsed. And so will the system in Iran. I am sorry for all the victims of this brutal oppressive government. Hope the government will finally understand, that brutality is the wrong way. Wish you all strength and hope soon, there will be freedom and justice and brotherhood in your country.

Schirini / June 26, 2009 11:16 AM

Neda,s family thrown onto the streets


http://infidelsparadise.com/?p=9877

pagan1 / June 26, 2009 12:44 PM

Thank you for sharing your voice. The Voices of Iran are being heard around the World, and in the long run, they will prevail. You will carve your own destiny, and the World will travel with you at your side.


I am so proud to have Iranian blood, and so fortunate that I have the life that I do in the United States.


"Courage is the quality most essential to understanding the Language of the World." - The Alchemist, Pablo Coelho.

Justin Thomson / June 26, 2009 2:28 PM

one thing you have accomplished that more people in the world have a better understanding that the people of Iran yearn to be free - all people who love freedom are brothers and sisters of the same womb of liberty. The young Iranians are siblings of Americans and free people everywhere. When we see you bleeding in the streets, our hearts bleed and we cry. But what we know is that no one gives away freedom - I have nothing against Islam but when people try to mix religion with power there is always vicious oppression. I know that murder is not the true Islamic way - yet people who rule theocracies use it to hold onto power. The only way your country will be free of these people is if the protesters form underground groups of armed revolutionaries - a religious theocracy that will kill its own people can only be stopped with force of arms. Here in the USA in the nineteenth century we had to fight a war to end slavery because some crazy people used religion to justify it. The King of England thought he was ordained by God...we had to fight a war to have democracy. I believe that Islam means peace...but where there is oppression there is no peace.

bondo / June 27, 2009 12:04 AM

i was spending a skiing holiday in rumenia a year after their 'silent revolution'. not much had changed, the poverty of people was still very visible and felt. the hotel ran out of proper food. the staff and manager kept excusing themselves. i got the chance to talk to the manager, asked him how he experienced that drama. he told how his youngest staff member, a girl only 17, was shot while she ran from the hotel to the other side of the street... with tears in his eyes. he said that he had no idea what actually happened then in bucarest, 200 kms from his hotel. nobody else dared to talk. the rumenian 'revolution' seemed for the rest of the world, to have been 'successful' as the dictator had been executed. it wasn't. the oppression just changed into 'lets not discuss anymore'.

i saw children in cold winter time, begging then. without shoes, malnourished. our skiing hut, a rather big and luxurious one, was overheated. the cleaning woman was dressed in rags.

people on the streets in that town, did look at us, wealthy tourists. i felt ashamed to not being able to express my feelings towards them - we simply couldn't communicate in the same language.

for that reason, i feel happy that iranian people can and do express themselves to the rest of the world.

dutch woman / June 27, 2009 6:38 PM

Thank you for sharing your story. May peace and justice rule over Iran in our lifetime.

mellat / June 28, 2009 9:32 AM

It is time for the Iranian People's resistance to go underground, It needs to regroup, arm itself, and make plans as to how it will move on to the next level. More demonstrations now will only yield more needless anguish. Find leaders who live in the West out of the range of the IRI's thugs as the resistance looks for the right time to strike again. The Iranian People's Resistance has won the sympathy and admiration of the world and the IRI has many enemies. Your time will come

Richard Kadas / June 29, 2009 10:50 AM

I have nothing to offer but my prayers, but you have them.


May God bless the cause of freedom in Iran.


p.

Paul B. / June 29, 2009 10:52 AM