Tragically, Iran will not be the next Egypt
In the last few days we’ve seen that the rumours of the demise of the green movement in Iran have been greatly exaggerated.
With thousands taking to the streets with chants of ‘Mubarak, Bin Ali – It’s your turn Sayed Ali’, many are asking the question whether Iran be the next Egypt. The simple answer is no.
Iran isn’t the next Egypt. In fact, in a few months it’ll be more likely that Egypt will be the next Iran. To understand what I mean we have to go back a little more than three decades.
In 1979 there were non stop protests in Iran. They bought a nation to its knees and forced the Shah to flee the country. Sadly, it fell apart when they welcomed Khomeini in, and so began the Islamic Republic. Now this isn’t to say that Egypt just had an Islamic revolution, after all people weren’t chanting for an Islamic regime on the streets.
There are two key differences between Egypt and Iran. The first is that the Iranian Government isn’t supported by the west and therefore has less to lose by repressing the protests. The economy is already riddled with sanctions and the regime knows that the key concern of the west isn’t the amount of people who die on Tehran’s streets but the country’s nuclear program.
The second difference is Evin prison – a symbol of the brutality of the Iranian regime that is insidious and terrifying. Yesterday, one protester was shot dead by the Basiji Police. Many others were reportedly hit by paint bullets, designed to mark protesters so they could be hunted down later away from cameras and international eyes.
What in many way defines the green movement in Iran is who’s missing from it. Green in Iran is a colour associated with Imam Houssain, a shia symbol for martydom – for riding into battle against an outnumbered force and putting ideals before one’s life.
Three generations of protesters, progressives and visionaries have been tortured and executed for simply daring to speak up for freedom. Thousands were wiped out by the Shah with his secret police the SAVAK. There were then mass killings at the hands of the Islamic government in 1988. Here is how the Iranian tribunal saw it:
“All over Iran men and women were blindfolded and shot or hanged in exercise yards or prayer halls. None of them was taken to trial, instead they were asked a few questions by what became known as the “Death Commission” and sentenced to death according to their responses.”
It is unknown how many people were killed in the early days of the Islamic regime. The Iranian Tribunal has been able to document at least 5000 names of victims through families and documents. Many were buried in unmarked mass graves in Kharavan cemetery.
Things have steadily gotten worse over the last thirty years as the regime is throttling the country in its quest to stay in power. According to Human Rights Watch, since the 2009 elections the regime has arrested over 6000 protesters - with many held without charge.
More terrifyingly, Iran has been termed to be going through an ‘execution binge’ in the last year with an average of three prisoners a day being executed since January 1, 2011.
The green movement has often been criticised for not having a clear leadership. No one mentions that many of the candidates for leadership have already either been slaughtered or forced to flee the country.
Yet still people are on the streets – knowing that being there means saying goodbye to family. More importantly, knowing you may never come back, you may give up everything with no guarantee that things will get better.
It’s criminal not to have hope when one sees the footage of the protests that happened this week in Iran. The Regime is scared, as evidenced by the Iranian parliament calling for the executions of Mousavi and Karoubi - the two men who contested the last election and figureheads of the movement.
Unlike Egypt it’s doubtful we’ll see the streets of Tehran celebrating the dictator Khamenei leaving. It’ll be a long hard fight in Iran.
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