Iran: Monday, National Strike, 1963 & Now, Neda Agha Sultan, & more

1. Monday: The crackdown was in full effect on Monday and the demonstrations continue to dwindle, but this may be far from over. Indeed, reports indicate that Mousavi has called for a national strike on Tuesday. We’ll have to wait and see if it this actually plays out.

2. Important Lessons in History – 1963 and Now: The protests and the subsequent crackdown may have reverberations for years to come. In 1963, Khomeini led an uprising against the Shah and was exiled for 14 years for his agitation. More importantly, the ferocity of the crackdown led to the deaths of anywhere between 15,000-20,000 people. Although the movement was crushed, the repercussions would haunt the Shah’s regime until it was finally deposed in 1979. For starters, the brutality of the suppression convinced many that peaceful protest was ineffective in the face of a ruthless machine so two major guerilla groups emerged in the aftermath, the Mujahideen-e Khalq and the Fadaiyan-e Khalq, both of which launched a guerilla war against the Shah in the 1970s and contributed to the aura of sacrifice and radicalization that greatly impacted the people’s decision to fight for revolution in 1978-1979. Secondly, the barbarity of the crackdown in 1963 pushed many Iranians against the regime as the Shah’s government exposed itself for what it was, a dictatorship that did not represent the will of the Iranian people and was willing to kill them en masse to preserve its own hide. The suppression taking place in Iran now is nothing compared to what happened in 1963, but it’s still early and the regime has the capacity and the will to take harsher measures. In the weeks, months, and years ahead, we shall see if such parallels between now and 1963 are sound.

3. Her Name was Neda Agha Sultan (1983-2009):She had been sitting with her music teacher in a car, stuck in traffic, when she decided to get out because of the heat. ‘She got out of the car for just for a few minutes [and] that’s when she was shot dead,’ said Kaspin Makan. Mr Makan quoted eyewitnesses as saying she appeared to have been targeted deliberately by ‘paramilitaries in civilian clothing’. He added that officials had prevented mourners holding a memorial service at a mosque on Monday. ‘The authorities are aware that everybody in Iran and throughout the whole world knows about her story,’ he told the BBC. ‘They were afraid that lots of people could turn up.’

4. Khamenei’s Appointment as Supreme Leader in 1989: I recently found some rare archival footage on Khamenei’s appointment as Supreme Leader after Khomeini’s death in 1989. It’s interesting to see how Rafsanjani, now one of Khamenei’s most ardent opponents, championed him at this decisive and historic meeting. See the video here.

5. Street Battles – Little Victories Count: See the video here.

6. Losing Faith in the System: “Khamenei also said, ‘Trust in the Islamic Republic became evident in these elections.’ In fact I believe the loss of trust by millions of Iranians who’d been prepared to tolerate a system they disliked, provided they had a small margin of freedom, constitutes the core political earthquake in Iran. Moderates who once worked the angles are now muttering about making Molotov cocktails and screaming their lungs out after dusk.”

7. As’ad AbuKhalil on the Western Media’s Hypocrisy: [Although I think the coverage on Iran is necessary and important, the hypocrisy is obvious in that the protests and reform movements that take place in countries that are America’s allies do not nearly receive the same kind of attention and most certainly should!] “But the hypocrisy is quite stunning. They are admiring the dare of the [Iranian] population when the Palestinian population shows more dare. They are outraged at the level of repressive crackdown by the regime when Israeli crackdowns on demonstrations are far more brutal and savage. They are admiring the participation of women in a national movement, when Palestinian women led the struggle from as far back as the 1930s (see the private papers of Akram Zu`aytir). They are outraged that the Iranian government is repressing media coverage, when the Israeli government is far more strict: when it was perpetrating slaughter in Gaza few months ago, the Western press was not allowed any freedom of movement except the hill of death where Michael Oren led reporters to watch Israeli brutal assualt on the Palestinian civilian population from a distance. The media coverage in the US and UK prove beyond a doubt that increasingly the Western press has been serving as a tool for the various Western government. If the government cheers, the media cheer, if the government condemns, the media condemns, etc. And would the Western media ever be as unrestrained in its glamorization and glorfication of demonstrators and demonstrations in Egypt or Saudi Arabia or Jordan as they are now?”

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