By Sumayyah Meehan, MMNS Middle East Correspondent
â€œThe tree of liberty must be watered from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.â€
An Iranian demonstrator shows a placard against Iranâ€™s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad during a demonstration outside the United Nations office in Kuala Lumpur June 15, 2009. Malaysian police used teargas to break up a crowd of around 500 Iranians demonstrating outside the United Nations mission against Iranâ€™s contested presidential election, a Reuters photographer said.
United by the common rallying cry composed of a mere three words, â€œWhereâ€™s my vote?â€, enraged Iranian protestors hit the streets this past Saturday in a show of defiance against the reelection of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. They numbered in the millions as they filled the streets to march against perceived election fraud. The popular candidate, Mir Hossein Mousavi, was seemingly robbed of certain victory as he received overwhelming support during his candidacy. Over the course of less than a week protestors have clashed with security personnel and pro-Ahmadinejad supporters on a daily basis. The result has been several horrendous and often vicious encounters that have played out on live TV and social networking sites on the Internet. Many protestors have been beaten to a bloody pulp and some have lost their lives in this unwinnable battle of hearts and minds. Iranian security forces show no mercy as they beat anyone, including women, with their batons. There have also been several recent reports of protestors being shot at with live ammunition, with at least seven protestors having been shot to death.
One would expect the commander in chief of any nation to calm the storm until cooler heads prevailed. Not Ahmadinejad, who is relentlessly holding on to his stifling reign of dictatorship. Instead of rising above the controversy, he is stirring the pot to keep the tensions at a fever pitch. Perhaps his strategy is to keep his detractors busy so that no one can challenge his win or recount the ballots. Why else would he clamp down so hard on media reports in Iran? Some journalists have been arrested while others have been forbidden from filming the bloody protests, Iranian reformists have been detained and telecommunications have been blocked.
But somehow, some way, the information keeps flowing. The battle has moved into cyberspace where it began and has taken on a life of its own to tell the world about the injustice being meted out to an innocent populous. Once again social networking sites like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter have been fundamental in uniting pro-Mousavi Iranians into a central force as well as harnessing global condemnation regarding the brutality in which demonstrators have been dealt with. Not since President Obamaâ€™s candidacy for the White House has there been such a political revolution been played out in cyberspace. In this case, American-operated websites have been vital in keeping the stream of information running. Twitter cancelled a scheduled site maintenance and rescheduled it to coincide with the Iranian time zone, which came at the request of no other than President Obama. YouTube has also been a willingly ally and has kept video footage of demonstrations up on its website. Normally, YouTubeâ€™s policy is to remove violent videos, but plans to leave the Iranian protest videos up for their â€œdocumentaryâ€ value.
As of press time, it seems that a minuscule wind of hope is beginning to blow into the Iranian capital of Tehran. The Ayatollah Khameni has promised a partial recount of the votes in question under the auspices of representatives of both parties. Meanwhile, the fight goes on in the Iranian streets with both sides refusing to coalesce. Rallies for both sides were held on Tuesday. Touting a ban on public gatherings, opposition leaders have scheduled even more rallies in the coming days.