Did they silence Iran by killing its Neda (voice)?

A year ago around this time Iran was heaving in blood and battle. Among all the chaos on the streets, a young woman was killed in broad daylight in front of the world. The doctor near the scene who tried to save her was accused of being accomplice in her murder and had to flee the country and live in clandestine in exile. Her real killer though was never found as no attempt was made to find him. As if he accomplished a mission and like any other assassin vanished into the thin air and retired under the protection of those who carried out the policy of “fire to kill” peaceful demonstrators and beat up, torture, rape and mutilate them if captured. Tomorrow is the anniversary of Neda Agha Soltan’s death. I happened to be one of the first people who received the video. The sender asked me “what on earth is this?” Bewildered and in a state of total shock I replied: “can’t be true!”A short while later the world watched that video and followed the tragedy of Neda Agha Soltan’s murder. The killing of Neda had widespread consequences for the Iranian regime on the one hand and the Iranian opposition on the other. I had been the subject of many songs, music, articles, interviews and writings. Immediately, the brutal murder of Neda turned into the symbol, the emblem and the flag of a collective protest which was meant to be non-violent and peaceful. Millions around the world saw her on their screens over and over again and thousands of Iranians outside and inside put a mask on their faces, decorated with Neda’s beautiful portrait telling the world “I am Neda”. Songs were written in her memory, stories were written in her honour, a film was made in her honour and her family became the honour of a nation that was marching on a non-violently demanding its “vote”.A year on, the Iranian regime, corrupt more than ever, brutal more than ever, deceitful more than ever and unpopular more than ever has tried to cover Neda’s murder in a cloud of ridiculous and unfounded stories in order to divert attention from not only her murder but the other murders that had been carried out before and those that followed; Sohrfab and Kianush and others on the streets and the Kahrizak murders. In memory of Neda,

 I wrote the following piece on www.Iranianwomenuk.blogspot.com  a year ago.

 “Did they silence Iran by killing its Neda (voice)?” 

On the anniversary of the murder of Neda Agha Soltan let’s remind ourselves that we have come a long way since then and have to go a long way before we can reclaim our country from the course of transgression into the abyss of darkness into the road to freedom, democracy and secularism along the line with the civilised world. Let’s remind ourselves that Neda and Sohrab and Kianush and thousands before them were not murdered in vain. They were the price Iran paid for the noble cause of freedom.   

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Did they silence Iran by killing her Neda (voice)?

 The chronology of a coup d'etat.

 Rouhi Shafii

 Until recently, I thought the age of dictators and coup d'etas in their conventional form had long gone past and the twenty first century will not witness the midnight raids on the presidential palaces, the gun shots and assassination of presidents and kings, martial law, rounding up the people in stadiums, unlawful arrests and kidnapping and finally the emergence of a new dictator in a military uniform, civil dress or turban, announcing his triumph. Until the night of the Iranian presidential elections, I strongly believed the world has moved on, we Iranians have moved on and a new era is on the horizon with a pale smile and fainted rays of hope.  It was the month of June. For some unknown reason and for the past decades, in this month major political events have taken shape in Iran; from the Khomeini uprising in 1963 to the present time. Do I have to be superstitous and expect something drastic to happen after what happened just recently in the month of June? I am talking about our presidential elections. As people were preparing to participate in large numbers and the four canadidates who were all from the inner circle of the Islamic regime were veted carefully and 'selected' to stand for elections. Four years ago, those Iranians who were disenchanted by the eight year presidency of the reformist Mr Khatami, who promised change but was unable to fulfill his promises as his efforts were curtailed in every step, distanced from the elections and that paved the way for a phenomenon called Mr Ahmadinejad. During Mr Ahmadinejad's presidency, two things happened: 1-Iran became the centre of world tention, attention, economic sanction and islolation by his zelous rhetoric on Iran's need for nuclear energy, denying the holocaust and undermining every international protocol. 2- Deteroition of the economy, appointment of corrupt individuals to high office who channeled billions of dollors of oil money into the uknown, rise in unemployment, rise in addiction among the youth, rise in suicide rate, prostitution and human trafficking. Censorship in the broadest form possible; books, newspapers, weblogs and websites, brandishing opponents. Detention of citizens whithout sound foundations, killing people in custody, ignoring the rights of ethnic and religous minorities and carrying the death penalty in large scale. Creating a six-layer policing system which controlled the Iranians especially women and students. Mr Ahmadinejad's monologue of false promises and blatant lies, of his obession with the nuclear issue, of his failure to fix the economy, of his policies of suppression decent, of his self-style hallucinatory claims of being inspired by the absent Imams and in total his lack of understanding the world and the Iranian people and their modern needs, brought the people to the conclusion that they have to set foot in the scene and vote for a less fundamentalist and a more pragmatic candidate. The scene was set. For weeks before the elections, people grouped and regrouped, political parties became active, associations and coalitions were formed. Women formed a broad coalition unprecidented in the history of the Iranian women struggles. They met up with three of the four candidates and encouraged them to include women's demands in their manifestos. Thousands of articles were published in the papers and websites, hundreds of thousands of emails were exchanged. Students, workers, intellectuals were all but hope. A window was about to open to take the people out of darkenss. A ray of light! That was all that was. For a short period in many years Iranians inside and outside were optimistic. Hope for change was on the horizon. People's enthiusiasm channeded itself into the candidates's election campaigns. The candidates began their presidential campaigns. They appeared on variuos venues, changed their manifestos in the course of events and became more understanding and aware of Iran's modern needs. That seemed to be the beginning of the end of a four year nightmare.For the first time in the history of the Islamic Republic's election campaigns, the wives of the candidates travelled along with their husbands and Mr Musavi's wife who is a respected personality in her own right took to the stage and became the unofficial spokes-person in the rallies. Mr Karoubi went even further and offered his headquarters to women and promised to have a woman as his vice president. The world witnessed a true face of Iran. The face of smiling, civilised men and women who talked of their hopes for the future. In that celeberatory mood, Mr Ahmadinejad's distorted face and distorted monoloques lost colour among the urban population as people were about to drive him out of office. In rural areas he was busy to distribute money and buy votes. Apart from that he did not offer any concrete plan throughout his campaign. He did not meet up with any group or individual. In his TV discussions with other candidates he lied to the people and put unfounded accusations against his strong opponents in order to cover his hidden plot. Under the cover of the night, in those dark corners of the hidden rooms and in those archaic minds, a different cenario was engineered, approved and sealed by the 'grand leader'! The plot had been decided upon long before the elections. Months ago, the 'leader' announced in one of his preachings that Mr Ahmadinejad should serve for another five years! So, why all the hassle and the fuss? Why in the name of God did they pull the people along only to announce what had already been decided upon? The answer lies in the fact that they thought it wise to declare Mr Ahmadinejad president through elections in order to give him more legitimacy. They engineered the whole scenario for a coup: two hours before the poles closed the streets of Tehran were occupied by armed men, the candidates' election observers were ordered to leave, armed men entered the polling stations and carried the ballot boxes with them. Apparantly, Mr Musavi received a call after midnight on satuarday informing him that he has won and should prepare his victory speech but some time later, armed men entered his headquarters and told him that Mr Ahmadinejad was the winner!  The pages of history turned as the majority of the people were shocked first, angry and bewildered next. The hastily results outrageously deprived the people of their their democratic participation. In the course of events, the candidates refused to accept the results but the 'leader' Mr Khamenei put his approval to it even before the Guardian Council looked into the matter and confirmed them as was the norm. The 'leader' who was meant to be impartial sided openly with Mr Ahmadinejad's fraudulent election results and hastily declared him the 'winner'!It is now a common belief that they must have been planing for such a coup for months if not years before. sometime earlier on . It is now widely believed that Mr Khamenei and other coup leaders' aim to eradicate the concept of 'republic' and establish a Calipha style system in Iran. Not to mention that the republic never stood to its true meaning. Not to mention that people outside the regime's inner circle were never allowed to stand for presidential or Parliament elections or any other high office throughout the whole life of the Islamic Republic. A Caliph style Islamic state more fundamentalist than the Taliban in Afganistan?  Here we are at the cross road of history. One thing is for certain. Whatever the plot, it will be doomed for defeat. If not in the short term but in time it will see its own destruction. Those millions who marched on the streets the first days and thousands who have since risked their lives and marched and raised theit voices and chanted on the rooftops and those who have reported the atrocities and the brutalities of layers of armed men to the world and those who have written on the websites and blogs, will never let the coup to succeed. Let the coup kidnap our young, assasin, imprison, torture, assault, beat up our intellectuals and frighten the people by attacking them in their homes, torch their gates and entrances, use abusive language against women. Let them bring out all the evil that had been hidden away for such days.  Let them shoot Neda and many other Nedas in broad day light. The coup leaders never knew that Neda will stand tall and tell the world of the crimes that the Iranian leaders are commiting against humanity and in the name of religeon. Crimes which will eventually drag them to the International Tribunal for Human Rights, where they have to answer Neda's mother who was deprived of mourning for her daughter at her unknown grave, where they have to answer of the assault on the students in the middle of the night at their dormatories? Student! The future of the country.  These days the future is unknown. The Islamic regime which was once unbreakable is now broken into two halves if not more. The rift among its founders, veterans and the new elite is vast. The wealth of Iran is in the centre of dispute as well as the greed for power. It is now up to the defeated candidates to decide which way to go. Today, as well as tomorrow people need decisive leadership to confront the election coup. If the coup succeeds, Iran will go through a period of darkness as the evil forces have come to the surface and the religous rhetoric has lost colour. Iran's problem is not her problem alone. Once the coup succeeds it will spread to the region and the world. It is a plague which has to be contained. We as Iranians have to demand from the international community an-all-out political sanction of Ahmadinejad's government and prepare ourselves for the long cold days of a winter which will eventually end.  

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