Ten Days that Shook Iran / Noushin Ahmadi Khorasani
Thursday 30 July 2009, by
The protests have now nearly died down, but the demonstrations that erupted in response to the fraudulent results of Iranâ€™s 10th presidential election did not fail to bear fruit. The protests, and the powerful peopleâ€™s movement for a democratic Iran, changed the country as much in 10 days as all movements combined did in the previous 10 years.
The size and success of the Iranian peopleâ€™s movement was not exclusively the consequence of an unjust election result. The Iranian government, like many of the worldâ€™s governments, had been weakened by the global recession, and, as such, Iranian citizens were more dissatisfied and more ready to protest than they might have been otherwise.
The climate of economic crisis, in combination with the electoral fraud, brought to the surface the longstanding, deep-rooted problems and contradictions in the structure of the regime. The peopleâ€™s movement capitalized on this mood, participating in the election, publicly questioning and lobbying the candidates. Reformist politicians such as Mir-Hossein Mousavi, sensing the cracks in the status quo, were responsive to the movement, which in turn buoyed the people. This reinforced a hopefulness among Iranians, without which no positive change can be achieved.
Before the election, the role of the womenâ€™s movement in particular was to communicate issues to the presidential candidates and the society at large. The extraordinary coalition forged by numerous womenâ€™s rights groups continued in effect after the election and took it upon itself to explain and analyse events as they unfolded. The resistance was not organized overnight, and it was sustained with the involvement of the studentsâ€™ movement and the independent trade unions. Together we made sure the public was aware of what was happening and was reminded of their rights. After 30 years of decorative elections, this time around we made sure to have our say. And we did have our say, which is why parts of the regime reacted with violence.
The role of women in the current struggle for democracy is distinctly different from that during the 1979 revolution, when women activists participated in the broader struggle against the Shah and did not highlight womenâ€™s rights issues specifically. As a result, women lost out. In the current struggle we are determined to highlight womenâ€™s issues and womenâ€™s rights as critical and distinct components of the struggle for democracy.
The events following last monthâ€™s election constitute the largest civil and democratic movement Iran has seen in the past 30 years. The vastness of this movement is proof that Iranian society, and the suppressed in particular, are hungry for democracy. The struggle was not between religious forces and non-religious, or between Muslim and secular, but between the people and a government that does not represent them.
The movement is comprised of the whole â€œmodern middle-classâ€ of Iran. All these people, both religious and secular among them, want to have a say in their political destiny.
Moving forward, we need to keep our message alive. We want true democracy in Iran. We need to continue educating the masses so they will peacefully resist the violence of the state. We must teach our children, the young generation, never to forget our history of struggle, and we must explain to them that justice and equality can best be realized through patience and tolerance.
Iran is our common home, with all its socio-political variances, and we must refrain from violence. Short-term victories are not an option. We know we have a long struggle ahead, as culture and tradition and politics change slowly. If Ghandi was able to achieve victory by peaceful means after so much suppression and violence, if Martin Luther King was able to peacefully stand alongside his people against racism, then us Iranians can move forward without violence, slowly but surely, towards our dream of a democratic nation.
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