1 - I was going over my Facebook notes and I came across a poem I had written about one of the martyrs of the Green Movement in Iran. It stroke me as it would be a good share for these days as Canada is heading to an election and, political apathy seems to be overflowing. I translated the poem to English so that my fellows here will get a sense of resistance politics and what it means to witness a democracy being turned on its head overnight. The message is that democracies are as fragile and fallible as oppressive regimes. Iran’s case, despite being portrayed as a full on dictatorship, is an odd combination of democracy with authoritative elements. Yet, I always find it difficult to understand how do [we] think that absence of tangible surveillance equals actual functionality of Western governments(?) Are we waiting for this democracy to fall or are we going to step ahead before our “weapons of construction” are taken away from us?
2 – Before the poem I do a brief introduction to the Green Movement. It should be noted that, my short description of the Green Movement below is only meant to raise questions and interest in looking back at an era in Iran that carrys so many lessons moving forward. What comes below, is not by any means a profound version of the instances in Iran of 2009. It is nonetheless, the part that I am most interested in; vaguely described as collective orgasms induced by social mobilization.
Green Movement was the consequence of a hijacked presidential election in Iran, 2009. The majority of Iranians voted for a reformist candidate whereas the results by the Elections Department in the Ministry of Interim falsely reported the conservative candidate to have won the majority (majority in Iran is 50+1). This announcement was made assuming that the voters will accept the formal results and will not look back to what they had gone through. What the government did not predict was birth of an opposition within the encouraged citizen engagement of the regime and, with the reformist candidates and voters stepping up and demanding their votes back.
Pre-elections, the country was at the cusp of a well foreseen change, not like what the past generation (at the time of Islamic Revolution in 1979) had gone through. This movement was not a revolutionary in the sense of overthrowing, this was all about employing existing political rights within an Islamic democratic framework for electing a president.
The competition between the conservative candidate (who was at the end of his first term) and the reformist candidate (who served as the first prime minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1980s) was clearly won by the reformist candidate on the streets, at homes, around dinner tables and in transport, weeks before the elections. Iranians, with an above 80% population of below 35, were changing the perspective of the world on Islamic Republic; staying out late party on the streets only to chant for a candidate who was retrieved as a running politician from years before these young generation was even eligible to vote.
Informal reports from voting stations proved the winner was the reformist candidate until communications (that are almost all controlled by the government) were cut and the celebrating nation went to a drunken sleep only to wake up to a nasty hangover. The results were unbelievable but the movement that formed in afterwards lashed back all that surprise. As masses joined one another walking from their homes and workplaces onto the main streets, in the afternoon of the post-election day, they would whisper to one nother how thrillingly surprised they are to see the support of their peers.
At the beginning, the police and the people weren't ready to encounter one another
It was only after a female protester was shot in the throat that the peaceful plea for getting the accurate result of the election turned into a national rage; the chants that started with “where is my vote” and silent protests, now had turned into a full bloom opposition. The bleeding wounds of a generation that had taken it all in from the system growing up, kept storming on social media and streets. This generation, called the burnt generation in Iran, my generation, still believed that those oppressing them were victims of a corrupt malfunction themselves; the opposition remained un-armed all throughout.
To this day, the Green Movement's leaders remain in home exile and, the political inquiries for betterment of freedom of speech and civil rights are endless in Iran.
The Green Movement was not only a national oppositional movement specific to Iran. It was the initiation of tweeted revolutions. The Arab Spring which followed the Green Movement, indeed benefitted more from digital distribution of revolutionary ideas, information and details of what was happening on the ground. In the world of social media and cyber subscriptions I am taking a step back to reintroduce a potential for contributing to he body of social movement and their aftermaths.
In many ways I am the last person to talk on behalf of Iranians. After all, I left Tehran despite all of what I gave to it, after being the "blood" in its veins. After being fully submerged in a political culture that is not even welcomed by the system. I was a part of a generation that walked, talked, and performed "reform" from way before being eligible for voting. A generation that finally took to the streets to say "NO" to being OK with hearing lies.
I left Tehran, after all the post-war reconstruction, all the soccer I played on its streets, after all those taxi drivers who I grew up sharing their rides, the stray cats, our gardens, the tear gas, the fresh out of oven breads.
Only, I didn't see the reform moving as fast as I would want it to.
Yet I do speak because I am an Iranian.
From my perspective, the Green Movement is now more dynamic than what is seems. Iranians practically did not stay on the streets after the brutal actions of police forces increased to an unbearable threshold; not out of fear but out of having had a revolutionary experience in their mid-term historical memory. In short, four years later the next presidential elections gave them a chance to opt for a candidate that is both a reformist and has accumulated enough power over serving in the Islamic Republic. He has the ability to negotiate with more conservative factions of the regime. This has enabled Iran to regain a certain level of its international agency back. Iranians inside Iran have not stopped rather are encouraged for demanding, and hoping for more individual political agency.
3 - In March 2015, in my visit to Vancouver, I came across a mural depicting Gastown riot(1971), as a piece of Urban art. My first thought was that I would want to see the same type of "art" (thousand pieces already made, never streamed internationally, or even nationally) of Green Movement in streets of Tehran (similar to numerous art work that portrays Islamic Revolution and Iran-Iraq was in murals in Iran).
This poems is only a few words into oceans of national urges and mourning.
When I was twenty
I was a student
I felt so oppressed
I used to pass my courses and
I took for granted having a reformist president
I would be fooled easily
I would even vote for conservatives
He is twenty
His lover might
or might have not betrayed him
He might or might not love his university
He is twenty which means the "one"beside the digits of his age has just turned to "two"
I remember how strange it feels,
Like an Odometer zeroing
Like a newly repaired race car The time you start covering your teenage wounds under non uniform costumes Only to feel the return of the rebel
Unlike me he hasn't been fooled though He hasn't dropped his vote in the ballet box with the ultimate ignorance of a twenty year-old
Only to forget about it all the day after the elections
He at twenty is where I got to 4 years later
But he is only twenty
My mom worried much more for me when I was twenty
One might be fool enough to even commit suicide at twenty
But how is it possible to be executed at the wake of twenty??
I'm not asking how come the Palestinian brothers resistance is Intifada and your next door, this, brother is accused if infidelity
I'm asking, are you powered by swearing testimony that he threw rocks at the riot police?
As much powered as you felt by shunning protesting women? As much?