'Movement by the people, for the people'

In extraordinary letter relayed to 'Post,' Iranian student describes police brutality and protesters' courage.

By
June 19, 2009 00:32
4 minute read.
'Movement by the people, for the people'

basij throwing rock 248.88. (photo credit: AP)

 
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The following letter from an Iranian student was received by The Jerusalem Post via a professor at a leading American university with close ties to Iran: Salaam, sorry if I didn't answer to your e-mails. The Internet connection is extremely slow these days... Yahoo messenger, MSN, text messaging, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and all reformist and networking Web sites are filtered. (I just got to briefly log in to Facebook last night with a "filtershekan.") There are rallies every day... organized by word of mouth from one event to the other, and then by phone calls, and strangers just telling you to show up as they pass you by or as you are waiting behind red lights. Yesterday, it was supposed to be from Enghelab to Azadi, but it literally started at Emam Hossein Sq. (Fooziyeh) and spread all the way to Ekabatan. The number of protesters should be estimated in the millions. They were from every layer of society. Southern Teheranis, Northern rich kids, Chaadoris, Ghertis, Hizbullahi, young, old, kids, etc. A huge sample of the Iranian nation, with all its diversity, was there, determined to make a change. They feel betrayed and insulted. Helicopters were flying over our heads to assess the crowd. People would wave at them and whistle and making sure they were seen so that they report their presence to the authorities (or authority). The radio and TV warned people all day long not to attend, as the rally didn't have the "permission from the Ministry of Interior" and warned of serious consequences if it took place, but no one cared. Everybody went. The Yegaan vijeh (anti-riot police) first tried to intimidate people as they were gathering, but the immensity of the crowd then made them back up and hide in a nearby police station. Today, the rally is supposed to be at Meydoon Vali Asr. There are words that the next one will be in front of Sedaa o Sima (National TV station). Yesterday the rally was calm and peaceful until the crowd started to disperse at the end. Then the Lebaas shakhsi (armed thugs without uniform) and some anti-riot units showed up with more confidence. They started a fire in one corner of Azadi to attract and entrap the most enthusiastic of protesters, then started firing tear gas and shooting. I didn't see it myself, but I heard that a man was shot in the eye. Chants were all either conducted against Ahmadinejad or in support of Mousavi. Nothing more "sensitive" than that. It's what I call "smart protest." People are extremely vigilant about what to say... Some chants were a little more "personal" and a bit more offensive to Ahmadinejad. Mousavi, [former president Muhammad] Khatami, [his brother] Muhammad Reza Khatami, [Teheran Mayor Gholamhossein] Karbaschi, Masjed Jamei, [former vice president Muhammad Ali] Abtahi, [reformist Mahdi] Karoubi all showed up. I missed Mousavi's speech, but Abtahi was just a few meters away from where we were. People cheered them a lot. Apart from rallies, people cry "Allahu Akbar" every night around 9 p.m. from rooftops and cars (well, it is supposed to be 9 p.m., but Iranians are always late. So they really start around 9:30). There are also sporadic riots and tire-burning in town. Night riots are much more violent. Sa'adat Abad, Shahran, Yousef Abad are some of the hottest corners. Universities are really tense, too. Police and thugs have already stormed dorms a couple of times and seriously wounded students. As for casualties, all we hear is rumors. I can't confirm any... One thing that I can tell with certainty is that people are really determined. They all say there is no stop to this until they get results... Girls are extremely active in all these rallies (a little less in night riots where patches of young men are more visible). They courageously charge anti-riot police, chant slogans in front of them, lead the crowd, etc., but they are equally beaten too. The police seem to have no limit in the use of force. They are disproportionately violent. They don't use fire weapons, but they don't go easy on you with their clubs. They literally beat up protesters to death if they don't get rescued by fellow protesters or somehow break away and run. The level of brutality is exceptional, but it is amazing to see how people stand up to them. I heard from many witnesses that thugs were brought by bus from smaller cities to assist police in the crackdown... I estimate that more people will show up for today's rally compared to yesterday. The word is that everyone should wear black with green bracelets or scarfs. The good thing about Vali Asr square is that it is right in "downtown" Teheran. It would be such a show of force by people. The national TV can't just keep ignoring it. (Not one single word of yesterday's rally was reported last night, except a really short footage showing Mir Hossein standing on his car to talk to his "supporters" that "contest" the results. The camera didn't zoom out one bit to show the immensity of the crowd...). Pray for protesters and for the country. Your support means a lot, as people happily tell each other how Iranians abroad are gathering around embassies to support them. Internet sites are filtered here, so please inform people inside of events and rallies by e-mail if you hear of any. I testify with confidence that this is the most authentic, grassroots and beautiful movement from the people, by the people and for the people. No outside force, no money, no conspiracy is involved. It's all about people telling each other where to gather next time, pledge to show up and keep their promise. There is a spirit of fraternity, determination, resistance, courage, solidarity and generosity that no words can describe. I thank God to have seen this in my lifetime, and I wouldn't trade it for the world.

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