Iran Election Aftermath – Protests and More
People, I did not expect this, I don’t think anyone did.
Firstly, if you need more background info on the election itself & the lead-up to it peep my previous post.
Tehran has erupted in protests, it is so difficult to confirm exactly what is going on on the ground but with the aid of Twitter and a few intrepid bloggers people are getting to the bottom of it (mainstream media has largely failed to cover the debacle, with the hashtag #CNNFail trending on Twitter, CNN Breaking News on Twitter has not said anything for 12 hours).
There are already reports of deaths, police clashes and wide-spread protests in multiple cities (main ones in Tehran of course). All three election candidates are in house arrest and have been since last night. The SMS network is still down, phone lines were cut from city-to-city limiting communication between the capital and other cities. The internet is also under heavy lockdown, twitter seems to be the only site that’s working with other sights like FriendFeed & Facebook blocked.
Once again, Twitter has really stood up. The #IranElection hashtag has been trending close to first for most of yesterday and today and is currently doing something ridiculous like 200 tweets a second coming in about it. With all forms of communication down and most mainstream media failing, it is the first line of offence for people in Tehran trying to get the word out and muster support. Andrew Sullivan reported the following:
So that’s the importance of social media ladies & gents. Soon after that deafening chants of Allaho Akbar were heard on the roofs of Tehran.
Regarding the alleged electoral fraud itself, it’s difficult to make up one’s mind without concrete evidence but the arguments in favour of the fraud are pretty damning. Check out this comprehensive assessment from Juan Cole or this graph prepared by the Tehran Bureau that seems to suggest an impossible trend.
I’ll some up the general reaction from Twitter & the media that is reporting this with Karim Sadjadpour’s statement to Hindustan Times via Reuters:
“I don’t think anyone anticipated this level of fraudulence. This was a selection, not an election. At least authoritarian regimes like Syria and Egypt have no democratic pretences. In retrospect it appears this entire campaign was a show: (Supreme Leader) Ayatollah (Ali) Khamenei wasn’t ever going to let Ahmadinejad lose.” [HTimes]
HTimes has some other statements from experts so check out the above link.
This thing is still unfolding but I’m going to stick to my predictions (that echo those of many others). These protests will probably not succeed (I hate to be a doomsayer) and this could go either way:
– The regime may decide to buckle under pressure & rerun the elections but I don’t think Khamenei will let this go like that, Ahmadinejad will most likely win again, they may just be a bit more careful with re-rigging
– The basij thugs and police will use the brutal methods we all know & love to quell the uprising and life will go on as “normal”.
The most important questions on everyone’s lips at the moment are – Is this the beggining of the end for the regime in Iran? These are the most vocal and sustained protests we’ve seen in Iran since the revolution. We’re talking about a revolution of 30 years ago, one that many young people in Iran were not even born to witness or do not remember and feel little-to-no emotional connection with directly. How is this revolution to remain relevant to the people if their will is being broken to this extent? And how will Ahamdinejad’s actual supporters among the people react to this (do not underestimate them, there are many).
UPDATE: The president of Iran’s own electoral monitoring commission has declared the results invalid (Farsi) and Ayatollah Rafsanjani has resigned in protest. Check back on this thread for further updates.
UPDATE: Now receiving reports that Mousavi has said his prayers and is moving towards with 30,000 supporters, awaiting confirmation but if this is true it’s fairly big news. 3:46pm