20 July 2011

Unreal Expectations: My thoughts about 22 Bahman 1388 (11 February 2010)

(Originally posted on Facebook 12 February 2010)

When I first went into the NCO Club on Clark Air Base in the Philippines after making Petty Officer 3rd Class, I noticed one room dedicated to slot machines. Interested because I'd never played them before, I put a quarter in. I won. Did it again, won again. Eventually, I had nearly $35 in quarters before me, all of which I ended up losing till I didn't have even the quarter I'd started with. But all I had actually lost was the one quarter.Like so many of you, my immediate thoughts at the close of 22 Bahman were, “Is that it?”. But as I read the assessments and commentary of others, I began to look at the events in context.

(The above image contrasts the pro-regime showing on 22 Bahman 1388 and that of the anti-regime demonstration on 25 Khordad 1388/15 June 2009.)

I have to repeat before I list my conclusions that I have no use for the opinions of Trita Parsi or the National Iranian-American Council (NIAC). Their official “assessment” at the end of the day amounts to little more than cheerleading for the regime, with which many of its members have vested commercial and financial interests, presenting it as "invictus" (invincible). It could well have been written by the regime-loving Leveretts or the agent of the Tehran regime who poses as a reporter in order to write pro-regime propaganda for The Guardian.

To talk about 22 Bahman as if it were an overwhelming victory for the regime and a humiliating defeat for the green movement is to mock the suffering of everyone jailed, tortured, raped, and sold into prostitution in Dubai since July. It the same as pissing, shitting, spitting, and puking all over the graves of Neda, Sohrab, and the rest who have died since June as well as the tens of thousand of victims murdered by the regime through the years since the 57 Revolution was first stolen.

Now to my few brief points.

First, this was Revolution Day. Expecting the Green Movement to swarm over and overwhelm the regime forces on this day of all days is roughly akin to expecting the same against the American government on the 4th of July or the French government on the 14th of July or the government of the former Soviet Union on the 7th of November. Reality check (myself included).

Second, our expectations were greatly raised by the events of Ashura. Perhaps we had forgotten that the greater-than-expected turnout on that day was due in large part to it coinciding with the 7th day after the death of Ayatollah Montazeri.

Third, the massive stormtrooper overkill may have prevented massive green presence at the site of the official observance of the stolen revolution, but it could not stop protestors from marching.

Fourth, I noted elsewhere that protests were more widespread in terms of the number of cities they occured than on any other occasion than Ashura. This may not have been accurate; I believe that in fact more cities had protests on 22 Bahman than even on Ashura, such as Ahvaz.

Fifth, there were numerous reports of women protestors in various parts of Tehran discarding their head scarves as they marched. This has never happened in any previous protest.

Sixth, the green movement has been protesting nonviolently for eight months, and no matter how many the regime arrests, tortures, rapes, or murders either outright or by decree of kangaroo court, still people come out.

Seventh , I've talked to several people who were out 22 Bahman and they said there were actually MORE people out than on Ashura not less. (In his recent interview published on Kalameh, Mousavi compared 22 Bahman's turnout to that of 15). The majority couldn't get anywhere near Azadi Square, but enough did that they had to shut off the live broadcast twice after loud chants of "Marg bar Diktador" were heard over the official TV. What's more the actual strength of the movement is ten times the number of protestors out in the streets.

About the crying and whining that the movement needs a "leader"...

In the scene of “Braveheart” before the Battle of Stirling Bridge, Wallace asks, "If this is your army, then why does it leave?" One of the foot soldiers bellows out, "I dinna come here to fight for them!"

If they are to have leaders, Greens need real leaders, leaders who support what they really want, not supposed leaders who are themselves entangled in the web of the regime because the power-base upon which they stand is itself part of that regime.

I have a great deal of respect for Moussavi, Karroubi, Khatami, etc., but they cannot have it both ways. They cannot maintain their bases of power as part of the regime yet be part of the green movement. Change from within is a lie. They should choose which side they are on. Green yes? Ok. Green no? Ok. Green part of the way, in the middle of the road? Squished like a grape. If they are part of this regime, even as the "loyal opposition", they remain part of the problem.

Even so, everyone should admire their bravery, and that of their families, in coming out, or attempting to come out, in the face of what could have been their assassinations. Were I to ignore that, I would be as guilty of undeserved insult as NIAC.

But the truth is that all members of the green movement are the leader, the Simurgh, each and every person individually and all together as one. And part of the reasons such person as the afore-mentioned individuals have not "stepped up" to claim leadership of the green movement is that they, especially Moussavi, understand both this, and that they are included in this. That is the reason they and their relatives always march, as much as possible, as one of the people rather than at the head.

What the Green Movement, and the people of Iran, want is clear from one of the slogans which has been one of their chief battle cries since at least July: “Esteghlal! Azadi! Jomhuri-e Irani!”. They want change, they want a revolution in the way their society is run and by whom it is run. They want a secular democratic Iranian republic, independent, with equality and justice for all.

From all accounts, this has been the longing of the great majority of Iranians as far back as the 1990’s when the distraction of the Iran-Iraq War was no longer present as a prop to the corrupt regime. They do not want to reform the Islamic Republic. They do not want the Islamic Republic to live up to the promises in its constitution. They simply do not want the Islamic Republic at all.

A patient in a permanent vegetative state of existence cannot be revived, period. All that can be done is to pull the plug and end the suffering.

Rooze ma khahad amad.

(First published on Facebook 23 Bahman 1388, or 12 February 1388)

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