One of the greatest things about Los Angeles is the sheer diversity of the populace here. I've met and become friends with so many people from all over the world, and have learned so much about other cultures. As a result, I've found myself that much more interested in the world around me, and that much more concerned about what's going on in the world. I've been following the elections and subsequent protests in Iran and can only think that in it all, the voices that we need to hear most are the ones the news will never let anyone hear: the voice of the people themselves. Yesterday, TechCrunch reported that the Iranian government is currently blocking internet access to FriendFeed, which is hugely popular in Iran.
All this speaks to silencing the words of the people, so I am reposting here a first-person report from Iran about the election. Thanks to Seldo for bringing this to my attention. I wish all the best to Wilfried and his family.
The following is a rough conversation outline I just had with my uncle, who lives in Tehran. Sorry for the poor readability and grammar. My Farsi isn't the best, and his English isn't great either, so we had to make do. I haven't had time to proofread and clarify yet; just wanted to get this out there in its most raw form. Draw any conclusions you'd like.
Italics = me Rest = uncle
"Tell me whats going on with the election."
Basically, the Iranian people want the following:
1. Take steps towards democracy 2. Have good and free relations with entire world (incl US) 3. Seek peace, as we are people who want peace with neighboring countries 4. seek progress, for a better situation and position in the world 5. These are all aims which Mousavi, Rezaee, and Karroubi desire.
We are told by Mousavi, Rezaee, and Karroubi that they are going to govern peacefully, strive for good relationships with other countries, and bring peace to the country. They support progress, and want good relations with other nations, even Israel and the US. They'd also like to stop giving economic support to palestinian terrorists.
Those are their aims and promises. But then the election occurred.
- Nearly 50 mil people have voted - We are all sure that most of the votes have gone to Mousavi - We are sure he would win with more than 26+ million. - We found that Mr. Ahmadinejad had 6-7 million, but of course he is backed by the government and supreme leader. - In reality, it is its like a coup d'etat.
"Tell me about the protests"
- When people realized their vote hasnt counted, they reacted in good and democratic matter. They went out of the house and had respectful, peaceful gatherings in different streets in Tehran. All of these have been filmed and are on YouTube and Voice Of America (VOA). - The gatherings are going on and on. They don't seem to stop. - Of course, Ahmadinejad's supporters are also gathering. - Mousavi has planned a demonstration today (Monday) at 4-6pm in tehran, betwen Azadi street @ Revolution square. I believe they will have a speech about the events and future of these demonstrations.
"Have you seen the demonstrations personally?"
- Yes, I have seen them personally, but I didnt dare to go into them personally. There are too many army people [riot police] there. They are very rough in their actions.
"They are violent?"
- Thats right. They hit people with electric batons and tear gas. They want to make people fear them. - In Ekhbatan (south western Tehran, ~500k people), we see the demonstrations from the 9pm onward every night. People go outside and shout slogans like "we want our vote," "we want our president," "we don't want Ahmadinejad," "down with the dictator," and "down with Ahmadinejad". Also, I witnessed the army [riot police] attack some people and break into homes and break many street windows between 2AM and 3AM (both saturday and sunday night). - Now we are waiting for Monday's demonstrations, to see what happens.
"Just batons and tear gas, or guns too?"
- We heard shots fired, but have been told that people are not the targets, that they are shooting into the sky as warning. - We heard news from Shiraz that one univ. student was killed. I am going to look at other media to confirm because the state media filters everything.
"What do you think is going to happen?"
- I think this is the kind of reaction people have in such a situation. They have reached the conclusion that they can't live with this situation. They want their country to progress, be peaceful, have good relations with other countries, and not to interfere with internal relations of other countries (palestine, iraq, etc). We are serious about these things. We don't want to interfere. We need to have good relations with other countries. Until now we haven't had good relations with them. I voted for mr Mousavi. Those of us who voted for him want him to fulfill these objectives: good relations, stop economic support of terrorism, peace, and progress, both industrial and scientific proposals. These are the main things that these people want... and they are going to pursue their desires and needs. - At the present time, the people are going to hear from their leaders[/candidates]
"So you think theyre waiting for the leadership to define what the next few days or weeks are going to look like?"
- Yes exactly, absolutely, they are going to reveal their goals, and they want to have their elected candidate presented as the president of Iran, and I think we as the people of Iran will not stop pursuing that goal, having Mr Mousavi as president.
"Even if Mousavi becomes president, do you think the surpreme leader is going to allow change to happen?"
- Of course, we can't predict what will happen, but this process has already started. I think both the fate of this process will ultimately be democracy. I think people want democracy and are willing to sacrifice all their life and more. But I cannot predict what will happen. We don't know what will happen. But now we have been confronted with the situation that the Supreme Leader has very definitely interfered with the democratic vote of the people.
"Are you implying there may be some kind of change in the entire leadership of Iran?
- I cannot predict what will happen. This is a process that we have just begun. We have to let the process unfold. It may be that the Supreme Leader may bend to the will of the people. I think this is probable.
"You do think it is probable?"
- Yes, maybe, but not too much. Naybe 10 or 20%. This depends on the behavior of people, it is upon them to decide their own future and fate. But really the past history has shown us that this is very improbable. *laughs uncomfortably*"
"Some people here are concerned that the outcome may only strengthen the hardline/Surpreme Rulers' rule, and/or that Israel will try to take advantage of this."
- Thats right. I've heard that, and Ive heard that some people in Israel are very happy that Ahmadinejad has come back to power; maybe that gives them some reason to attack. The thing is, we dont want war. We want change. mr obama has stated the same. We want change, and we have demonstrated that we need and we want change to happen.
- Also, I wanted to add something else. I think our leader mr mousavi is against any violence, and I think they have selected kind of a policy that is very very similar to the policy of Mahatma Ghandi: the policy of anti-violence. Through this leadership he reached the desired outcome, as did Dr Martin Luther King in the United States. The same thing I see in Mr Obama, the same thing we see in Nelson Mandela. This will work, and we are with it. I think the demonstration of Mr Mousavi will be totally anti violence. All the intellectuals in Iran are for peace and want to stop interference in the other countries affairs. They have adopted the way of nonviolence, to keep going and to follow and to continue the process of this voting and this, to some extent, revolution.
"So you would think of this as an attempted revolution?"
- Yes, I think this is a step towards it
"One last thing - have you heard of the riot police being from Lebanon, or being Hezbollah?"
- Not yet. I have not heard anything about them bringing any Lebanese police. I doubt it, but I am going to ask those people in Khermanshah, and I will contact you.
"If you do hear anything about it, please let me know"
- I will tell you. - I want you, and all those that seek the truth, to please inform the people of the US and abroad, that this time the Iranian people want to have good relations with all countries and all poeple. This should be very clear for the American people, they shouldn't judge the Iranian people as terrorists, or those who want to are evil or corrupt. We will have democracy in all its objectives. - I will inform with you any news I have.
"Tashakor, Khali mamnoon" -Ghorbonet beram, khodafez