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Gearing up for 13 Aban

by TARA MAHTAFAR

02 Nov 2009 10:5212 Comments
13aban1.jpg

[ preview ] To the outside world, street protests in Iran appear to have 'died down' since summer ended. Yet the opposition movement, driven underground, has strategically slated mass turnouts for calendar dates such as September's Qods Day, which turned the government's annual tradition of anti-Israel rallies on its head. By targeting dates of historic significance to the regime, opposition supporters aim to 'subvert' ideological symbols touted for 30 years by the Islamic Republic and thereby re-brand that date as an ideology-free 'green' day, the trademark color of the country's burgeoning pro-democracy movement.

Far from being "spontaneous" as some in the Western media described the last instance when, by many estimates, hundreds of thousands of protesters poured into the streets, anti-government demonstrations are laboriously planned and promoted a month beforehand, originating online, as ever, and transmitted on the ground by word-of-mouth, leaflets, and other creative ways.

The next major rally date is November 4, known as "13 Aban" on the Iranian calendar, which marks the 30th anniversary of the U.S. Embassy takeover in Tehran. The designated route for the march is Talaghani Avenue in downtown Tehran and other streets near the former American embassy complex. Outside of the capital, protesters are set to march from the (public) State University to (private) Azad University campus in their city.

Initiatives to invite the public to attend 13 Aban rallies began well over a month ago. Web-based promotion included bulletins on Reformist news sites and posters circulated in social media, especially Facebook. One poster urges protestors to drive their cars to the demonstration route and block the roads, if they fear coming to the streets on foot. Another poster calls on Iranians to chant Allah-o-Akbar from their rooftops at 10 pm on the night before the rally, almost like a collective war cry, except that the opposition is committed to nonviolent struggle.

MargBarHichkas.jpgAware that Iran's internet penetration rate hovers around 30 percent, efforts to spread the word in the physical world have included the distribution of flyers and writing Green 13 Aban! on billboards, walls, and money bills.

"Money passes from hand to hand," an activist in Tehran involved in promotional efforts told Tehran Bureau. "The message gets out to everyone [that way]."

A post-election phrase popularized by the Facebook page of opposition figure Mir Hossein Mousavi to counter the state's stranglehold on broadcasting, tight censorship of newspapers, and filtering of websites has been: You are the Media. Iran's youth have taken this call to heart, and Wednesday's turnout will be a measure of their success to mobilize the public for symbolic, date-based street protests in sustained a campaign for change.

Photo: "13 Aban Green," at Tehran University. Poster: 13 Aban, a day of respect for all nations, "Death to No One"

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12 Comments


Prayers and best wishes for the people of Iran are coming from many places in the world today. We are with you in spirit, if not in body.

Let not your heats be troubled.

Terrie Colleen Hampton / November 2, 2009 5:05 PM

"Death to No One" aptly captures the spirit of this peaceful movement.

Amir / November 2, 2009 10:03 PM

"Death to No One" What a beautiful rallying cry.

M Zivin / November 3, 2009 12:50 AM

Perhaps President Obama would finally recognize the right way to approach the issue of Iran and removal of threat of nuclear proliferation as well as support for terrorism is aligning his administration with the PEOPLE OF IRAN, not the so called gov't, whose words & promises are hollow, who have no legitimacy in the eyes of Iranians, and who, ultimately, dont have the final say in such matters.

President Obama ought to be reminded of the Nobel prize he won for peace & human rights above all else. And yet, he is engaged in the coup gov't's cunning distraction and theatrics!!

davood / November 3, 2009 3:07 AM

I frequent Iranian message boards, some containing youthful participation from Iran. There are actually a surprising number of youths that support the Iranian establishment.

Pro-establishment youths brand the green movement as "hijackers". They mock the movement for its general lack of creativity and perceived weakness; having to rely on "hijacking" establishment slogans and events. They also refer to the green movement as "greenbacks", implying financial and media manipulation directed at them from the United States.

It's an interesting political divide right now in Iran, one that reminds me in some ways of the political situation in the US during the late 1960s and early 70s. In Iran today, like America back then, there could exist a vocal anti-establishment movement amid a "silent majority" of establishment supporters. Even back then, in America, the "silent majority" accused the vocal anti-establishment movement of being supported by its cold war adversaries- the communist powers. And, like the above flyer proclaims, America's anti-establishment movement of the late 1960s/early 70s advocated a respect for communist nations, such as the USSR, Cuba and North Vietnam. There was a cold war in the background back then, just as there is a cold war now between the US and Iran.

It would seem Iran's "silent majority" is reacting in similar ways that were once exhibited by America's "silent majority". And vice versa.

Pirouz / November 3, 2009 6:31 AM

In 13 Aban, the movement will be tested. This time not by proving that they can turn out, as in Quds day, but by distinguishing themselves from the official anti-US slogans. After all, the capture of the low level US embassy personnel, was a turning point in Iran, as it helped consolidate the clerical power, and completely disarm the Left opposition.

We are now at a point when the first measure of success depends not so much on gaining independence, but on what we do with that independence.

ALI JAVAHERIAN / November 3, 2009 7:50 AM

Pirouz, I do the same. The comments in pro-government websites are my only window into these people, even if I were in Iran - as you would know, one is usually always surrounded by friends and family who share the same political sentiments and so it's easy to use the word "everyone" when referring to your own circle.

However, why do you call them a "silent" majority? They're voices may not be heard here, but in Iran, if you listen, they are most of the voice that you do hear. IRIB (another thing I do is try to watch as much IRIB as I can to keep myself "in tune"), newspapers, mosques, etc ... all belong to them. While much of this political fiasco is really a game of power politics, what I can never justify is the violence that was used against our own people. They have their own reasoning for that too (it wasn't us, etc) but the fact of the matter is that they were in parts responsible.

Another interesting thread i was once reading in these sites regarding the post-election violence was that "when it was their turn in power" (Mousavi's) they killed more people then we did. (they didn't say "we" of course).

The real silent majority I think are the small towns of Iran, possibly many of whom support the government in one capacity or the other, of which we really hear nothing.

Pedestrian / November 3, 2009 6:31 PM

We believe the fact that western institutions have tried to guide this movement is a reason why some have not jumped aboard. Once again, it appears that foreign governments are interfeering in a real struggle for democracy.
I would argue that many work under the belief that:
A bad government by the people of one's own country is better than a foreign occupation. This struggle for democracy is real. It must not have the taint of foreign governments. Please listen to our comments and suggestions at http://iran115.org/aban about 13 aban.

Jamshid / November 4, 2009 12:05 AM

Islamic republic must go.

kambiz moridi / November 4, 2009 6:31 AM

tasarof sefarat emrica kar eshtebahi boode
gheir ghabel tojih ast.
sefarat har keshvar manand manzel shakhsy ast va nabayad bi ejaze vared an shod

kami / November 4, 2009 7:15 PM


we are sorry for hostage emericam embesador

and it was very bad operation

kami / November 4, 2009 7:17 PM

I was so impressed by the rally . I was there and cried for the youth who were hit by the police. I hope iranians will be one body in a very near future .we are great people we should know our real worth ....I love you my hero brothers and sisters

maryam / November 6, 2009 8:59 PM