Commentary by Behrooz Vosooghi* – 11 March 2012
It was in June 2009 when an estimated 3 million people marched toward Azadi square in Tehran, showing their opposition to the result of the Islamic Republic’s tenth presidential election. Ever since hundreds of men and women were killed either in the streets or in prisons, thousands more have been imprisoned and tortured, and political leaders have been made to confess before millions of TV viewers. The Islamic regime has sustained the crackdown it first adopted against the opposition. Some people wonder what drove the Green Movement into isolation this fast? I here offer a few reasons for this.
Thirteen months ago, Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, two of the four presidential candidates were imprisoned in unknown locations. The regime claimed they were under house arrest, but their families argue otherwise. A tiny one-bed-room apartment was rented for each, and they were kept in that apartment with guards present around the clock. Their families were even made to pay the rent, and the former presidential candidates have no access to the outside world. Other reports have corroborated this version of accounts. Beside this, their supporters have always said they would react severely if their political leaders were arrested but no remarkable reactions were seen.
Iranian society is roughly divided into two major groups. The first group consists of mostly young and educated people seeking regime change, while those of the second group are mostly older and less educated with a majority living in poor economic situations due to the sanctions, high inflation and soaring prices of the last two years. Across Iran many people can be seen arguing about the regime’s policies. What the Green Movement failed to achieve was to expand its reach in Iranian society and attract the elders and less educated people. Many Iranians have experienced hearing: “These young, violent western-freedom-seekers must be punished, they’re seeking the destruction of Islam” by an old, usually poor taxi driver in a ten-minute ride when national radio announces the authorities arrested and sentenced some young political bloggers or journalists for the threat they allegedly posed to national security.
There is a kind of political depression and disappointment amongst the opposition for which no ordinary person knows the reasons. People in the street think their movement has failed to achieve its goals and the regime has managed to retake control. It was just ten days ago, a year after imprisoning the Green Movement’s leaders and public calls for street demonstrations that everyone was waiting to see what would happen on this anniversary. How many people were going to come out onto the streets and march against the regime? In reaction to this, the regime put hundreds of guards on every single street in major cities. No one showed up to any protests.
These ever-disappointing situations have led to the major political depression, which was discussed earlier; many Green Movement supporters believe the problem can only be solved with foreign interference. People believe they can make no difference through peaceful demonstrations that are repressed violently by the government.
Just a few days before the so-called election, streets were full of candidates’ posters, but a deafening silence loomed among former politically active individuals.
The people of Iran are going through some of the darkest days in the three millennia of their country’s history because they are not united to face these difficulties. The regime’s false promises and lies have been accepted by a large number of people who surprisingly live in some of the worse conditions in the country. Many people believe that it is a lack of education and social understanding that has made Iranian people so easy to deceive.
*The author of this article who currently resides in Iran prefers to publish under the pseudonym Behrooz Vosooghi.