Iran And The Descent Into Bloody Chaos

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on June 25, 2009

News out of Iran in the past day has not been all that good. The number of tweets from the country have dramatically decreased–indicating that the authorities are cracking down on Internet use, as well as cracking the heads of protesters, and making it much harder for us to get news out of the country. One could have seen this coming, of course, but it doesn’t make matters less heartbreaking or infuriating for those dedicated to the revolutionary proposition that votes should not be stolen, peaceful demonstrators should not be attacked, and ordinary civilians should not be persecuted.

This news report helps point out the basics of what is going on:

Iranian authorities have barred journalists for international news organizations from reporting on the streets and ordered them to stay in their offices. This report is based on the accounts of witnesses reached in Iran and official statements carried on Iranian media.

A flood of security forces using tear gas and clubs quickly overwhelmed a small group of rock-throwing protesters near Iran’s parliament Wednesday, and the country’s supreme leader said the outcome of the disputed presidential election will stand – the latest signs of the government’s growing confidence in quelling unrest on the streets.

As the election showdown has shifted, demonstrators are finding themselves increasingly scattered and struggling under a blanket crackdown that the wife of opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi compared to martial law. In Wednesday’s clashes, thousands of police crushed hundreds of Mousavi supporters.

The statement by supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei that the June 12 election of hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would not be reversed was accompanied by a vow that the nation’s rulers would never yield to demands from the streets.

Since last week’s protests, the government has unleashed days of escalating force, including the full weight of the powerful Revolutionary Guard and its feared civilian militias on the opposition.

Social networking sites carried claims of brutal tactics by police such as savage beatings with batons, but the report could not be independently confirmed.

In the battle for public opinion, the leaders also ramped up a familiar smear campaign: that the opposition was being aided by the United States and other perceived foes of Iran.

What began as groundswell protest of alleged vote fraud increasingly appears to be splintering into random acts of rage and frustration against emboldened and well-armed security forces determined to hold their ground.

Of course, Iranians remain inspiringly indefatigable, stating, along with other commentators–with good reason–that what has been started cannot and will not stop until there has been fundamental change in the country. Nevertheless, it is indisputable that the country is now going through what is a tremendously difficult period. Forced confessions are being shown on state television to try to delegitimize the protests.

The White House has responded with sharper language and with a decision to rescind an invitation to Iranian diplomats to have hot dogs and celebrate the Fourth of July. In perhaps-more-serious news, Saeed Mortazavi is up to the very things that made him famous in the first place.

Women continue to be at the forefront of the protest movement. The people are being lied to. Neda Agha Soltan’s family–having endured her death–must now endure the indignities that come afterward, a sickening display of inhumanity even for this regime. Finally, while we continue to read reports like this one indicating a fundamental change at the top, such a change had better come quickly.

After all, given the events of the past day or so, it appears clear that the protesters need a break.

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