In Iran, repression to mark a revolution
Perhaps the Iranian regime will call it a victory that opposition protests planned for today were suppressed. But what a way for the regime to celebrate the anniversary of the Islamic revolution against the Shah’s oppression! By threatening protestors and intimidating the opposition.
From videos and blog entries that appear to have been sent from Tehran today, you can sense the regime’s determination to quash the Green Movement. Mir Hossein Mousavi, the opposition presidential candidate, tried to attend a rally marking the revolution he helped to make, but “plain clothes militia, Special Forces and thugs with batons surrounded him and did not let him join the crowd,” according to a Facebook page maintained under Mousavi's name.
Here’s a vivid account from the Associated Press in Tehran:
Heavy security force fanned out across the city and moved quickly to snuff out opposition counter-protests. Police clashed with protesters in several sites around Tehran, firing tear gas to disperse them and paintballs to mark them for arrest. Dozens of hard-liners with batons and pepper spray attacked the convoy of a senior opposition leader, Mahdi Karroubi, smashing his car windows and forcing him to turn back as he tried to join the protests, his son Hossein Karroubi told The Associated Press.
The opposition is still alive: You could see that in video footage of a crowd defacing a poster of Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, an act of public defiance that would have been unimaginable a year ago. But this is a movement in retreat, for now, driven back by the ferocity of the regime.
Repression comes at a cost. Iran’s power in the Middle East came from the idea that it was different from the undemocratic police states of the region, such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia. That moral legitimacy has been shattered. The men who run Iran are now revealed as just another clique holding on to power.
That’s what the world saw today in Tehran: The commemoration of a revolution whose moral, spiritual and political force is being wasted by the people who now claim to speak in its name. All revolutions have arcs: This one has crested and is heading gradually but inexorably downward.
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