Iran Wrap-up 6/20

In Foreign Affairs, human rights, Injustice on June 20, 2009 by Editor Z

In defiance of the calls of the Supreme Leader Ayotollah Sayyid Ali Khameni in Iran yesterday for all protests to cease and his defense of last week’s controversial lopsided presidential election results, demonstrators while fewer are out on the streets continuing to defy the demands of the government.

The Iranian security forces and militias who are adherents of the government are clashing with demonstrators, advocates of Presidential candidate Mir Houssain Moussavi, and other candidates. Those candidates by and large have continued to dispute the legitimacy of the elections and calls in some crowds with the eructations of “death to the dictator” ringing out under like sirens that serve as a call to arms for some and an ominous warning for the establishment that is still entrenched in power, yet under siege.

Thirty demonstrators are now said to be dead, while as many as 200 others are injured in Tehran.

The state has responded by wielding batons, beatings, tear gas, and water cannons to halt the marches. Moussavi also now says he is prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice and will not be silenced, as President Barack Obama is now calling for an end to the violence exercised by the security forces on demonstrators.

Meanwhile no longer do the battalions of state have a monopoly on the use of violent force. There are reports that there was a bomb blast at a campaign building used by Amadinejad allies as well as a bomb that in an act shocking in its possible symbolism, a bomb was reportedly planted at the tomb of the late Ayotollah Khomeni, the leader who roused the Iranians during the Iranian revolution, whose chants of “death to America” became a national hallmark.

Here are some of the headlines of what is happening in Iran:

* Thousands of police, militia and secret policemen blocked access to Enghelab and Azadi squares, and protesters were throwing stones in surrounding streets
* A BBC correspondent saw one man shot in a crowd and another with injuries from a razor-wielding secret policeman
* About 3,000 protesters were reportedly gathered at Enghelab Square, according to Associated Press news agency. They chanted “Death to the dictator” and “Death to dictatorship”
* One witness told Reuters news agency that protesters loyal to defeated candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi set fire to a building in southern Tehran used by backers of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
* A column of black smoke is hanging over the city centre, our correspondent says
* Two Iranian news agencies reported that the suicide bomber died and two people were injured in the bombing at the shrine of Ayatollah Khomeini, leader of the 1979 revolution.

The number of protesters has lessened from those crowds prior to Friday’s statement by the Supreme leader warning of violence and blood in the streets if these demonstrations continue. They are now said to be smaller bands of protesters rather than the hoards before. Given that as well as the fact that the state and the current government have the armed forces and the guns on thier side, as well as a willingness to use that force and make little if any concessions; it appears that the power of the state will almost inevitably prevail, despite the efforts of the Iranian masses, world opinion, and the likely long term futility of it all.

The chances of a new election that is unimpeded by the Amadinejad forces are slim right now.But even if Amadinejad is able to retain power the knowledge that a discontented populous is bubbling with frustration below the surface will be at best unsettling for Amadinejad. Long term this has no doubt been a moral victory for the reform movement in Iran, whose messages have streamed out of the country via social networking sites and have made the term “media blackout” in its truest and most complete form an anachronism. The forces seeking reform have also been able to gauge their strength and the potency of their argument with the people and demonstrate just how far they are willing to go to in defiance of the Iranian government when faced with injustice.

Prior to these last two weeks the concept of a reformist element within Iran was not tangible in the eyes of the American people and probably nations and peoples all over the world. The existence and fervency of the movement now can not be denied, even if they don’t yet have the forces marshaled to force the government to heed their calls.

In the long run though, the entrenched political establishment in Iran has to decide if compromise to at least somewhat placate public opinion and curry some favor with the international community is something to pursue, or whether they are willing to fight at perhaps their own detriment to maintain the level of power and omnipotence they now posses in Iranian life. So far it appears to be the later rather then the former.



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