How do you count almost 40 million handwritten paper ballots in a matter of hours and declare a winner? That's a key question in Iran's disputed presidential election.Weirdly enough, some Iranians weren't buying it and have taken to the streets in protest ever since the "official results" were announced.
International polling experts and Iran analysts said the speed of the vote count, coupled with a lack of detailed election data normally released by officials, was fueling suspicion around President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's landslide victory.
As with many social movements, the largest protester segment are students. It's not a bad thing since these are the folks with the time and energy to kick things off. When I marched against the Gulf War in the early 1990s, students and career activists made up the majority of protesters too.
As I mentioned in my Huffington Post comment:
The Iranian uprising reminds us that government or the state only have authority by the permission of the people. If the citizens think the trust has been broken because of vote or election fraud, it's their right to remind those in charge how tenuous their power really is. The Mahmoud Ahmadinejad regime can bust heads, shot and stab protesters all they want. It's up to the marchers and protesters who'll ultimately decide when they are satisfied, when it's over and when things will get back to normal.
Since I have no DirecTV service right now, I've been obsessively tracking the tweets from the street on Twazzup and Twitter. Clicking on the links has given me the chance to see some amazing pictures, great articles and moving videos. Iranian Green Revolution: Latest Eyewitness Reports on Iran Election Fallout blog is full of videos compiled from YouTube. My favorite may be the one where a young woman literally kicks a man (10 seconds) in uniform who is harassing and beating people whith his baton. The woman got beat too but at least she got her licks in. Her resistance in the face of political repression is very brave.
The biggest negative about American support on Twitter is when people pass on obvious disinformation in a misguided attempt to help. If you see a tweet that is the opposite of 95% of other tweets, such as "march for Tuesday canceled, stay home", then don't pass it on. The status quo party has many hackers on payroll to spread fear, uncertainty and doubt, FUD.
I've been a big technology fan my whole life but the democratization of communication that allows regular Iranians get their stories out to other regular people around the world, without any filters, makes me appreciate the Internet even more. The revolution may not be televised but it will be Social Networked. Going forward, there will be no such thing as a media blackout. That's a good thing.
Finally, on to the story....
Jamileh, a 25-year-old woman from Iran, describes her experience taking part in demonstrations against the recent election result that saw current president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad defeat opposition hopeful Mir Hossein Mousavi amid accusations of vote-rigging. Parisa describes how she returned home from a protest march, only to be disturbed by police who then arrested her brother.
Friday June 19th 2009 by journalist Rajen Nair
I live in the city of Esfahan in Iran, a tourist place for worshippers of all major religions in the world. It has famous shrines such as the Friday Mosque, as well as Christian churches and Zoroastrian temples. The people here are peace-loving and deeply religious, but after the election result on June 12, the atmosphere here has become tense and scary.
For the past five days the city has seen huge demonstrations held by supporters of opposition candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi – and why not. Like millions of my fellow Iranians I had huge expectations from the outcome of this election. During the campaign the young electorate rallied their support towards Mousavi and, like many Iranians, I was expecting him to win the election. When the result came out, showing that Ahmadinejad had won by two thirds, I was in a state of shock and disbelief.
I voted for Mr Mousavi because I feel he is an enlightened person. I see him as a reformist who could help free our society from the dictatorship of Ahmadinejad. I must confess that women enjoy no freedom under Islamic Iran. The clergy expect us always to be covered with a Burqa and to wear gloves. They never allow us to mingle freely with boys. During wedding ceremonies, women are seated separately from the men.
I felt cheated when rumours spread that Ahmadinejad had won by rigging the election. Ask any youngster in the street and she or he would say that this election was rigged. I am very angry and so are young people of my generation. I can see this anger in people spreading everywhere and it is not just limited to cities.
I am glad that people are coming out in the streets demonstrating openly against Ahmadinejad's government without any fear. But I am saddened by the turn of events. One student belonging to Esfahan University lost his life in the demonstration. Innocent lives have been lost and Allah only knows how many more are going to get killed.
I took part in a demonstration and found that the protestors were generally peaceful. I noticed that it was the police guards that were unnecessarily provoking the protestors by wielding batons and using tear gas. So the demonstration sometimes turned violent though no fault of the protestors, but the police arrest protestors claiming rioting.
The recent events are extremely stressful and worrying for me. People are angry and I don’t think the government would be able to suppress this uprising. People are talking of a new revolution which will lead us to freedom and democracy. Every day people pour out into the streets in their thousands, to march and protest. At night people come out of their buildings onto their rooftops and shout: “Allahu Akbar.”
Our demand is that we do not want a partial recount, but a full recount of the election result to get to the truth. Life is normal no more . Ordinary citizens are scared to venture out into the street. Most shops pull down their shutters by 6pm, fearing violence between the demonstrators and police.
Yesterday evening I joined a demonstration at Hatim Nizar street, responding to the call given by our leader Mousavi to hold peaceful protests and march in memory of eight people killed. Most people wore black as we marched the streets silently, the majority of them were young boys and girls. After we walked a few yards I heard some commotion.
Suddenly people began running all over the place. There was confusion and panic. I could see people falling over each other. Baton-wielding police were charging us. I ran for my life using the opposite lanes and managed to reach home safely at night.
At around midnight I was rudely woken from my sleep. I heard the bell ringing repeatedly and banging on the door. No sooner had I opened the door than a few guards barged inside my flat, pushing me aside. They began questioning my 18-year-old brother and I.
They wanted to know whether we were supporters of Mousavi and had taken part in the rally. I lied and said we were not supporters of any political party, but they kept on pressing and were becoming rude and threatening. They refused to believe us. Then they arrested my brother and dragged him all the way down the street to the waiting police van. I kept pleading with them that my brother was innocent and to let him go.
My aged parents began wailing and neighbours gathered at our place. I had tears in my eyes, fearing what would happen to my brother.
Today, in the early hours of the morning, I visited the local police station. They say that my brother will not be freed until the investigation is over. Until then, I remain worried and fearful for his life. I pray to Allah that my brother is safe and will return back soon.