Monday, December 28, 2009

Tipping point in Iran?


Stanford Professor Abbas Milani believes that Iran has reached a tipping point in its history.  From his account in the Wall Street Journal:
When millions of peaceful demonstrators took to the streets of big Iranian cities in June to protest what was widely assumed to be a stolen election, many in the West wondered whether the movement had the will and vision to sustain itself.



Apologists for the regime here in America and in Iran dismissed the democratic protests as the angst of a small minority of Westernized yuppies or discontented academics. Clerics loyal to the regime used the incendiary language of class warfare. They dismissed the opposition as accomplices of the Great Satan and a small minority composed of wealthy urbanites fighting to reverse the gains the poor—mustazaf—have made around the country.

Over the past six months the regime has killed dozens of demonstrators, arrested hundreds of activists, and forced hundreds of others into exile. It took false comfort in the belief that it had defeated what it self-deludingly claimed had been nothing but an American-concocted velvet revolution.


This weekend's bloody protests during the holiday of Ashura culminate a pattern of persistence and perseverance on the part of the opposition. There can now be little doubt about the movement's staying power.
The Times of London announced its Person of the Year this week:
Neda Soltan was not political. She did not vote in the Iranian presidential election on June 12. The young student was appalled, however, by the way that the regime shamelessly rigged the result and reinstalled Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Ignoring the pleas of her family, she went with her music teacher eight days later to join a huge opposition demonstration in Tehran.



“Even if a bullet goes through my heart it’s not important,” she told Caspian Makan, her fianc√©. “What we’re fighting for is more important. When it comes to taking our stolen rights back we should not hesitate. Everyone is responsible. Each person leaves a footprint in this world.”


Ms Soltan, 26, had no idea just how big a footprint she would leave. Hours after leaving home, she was indeed shot, by a government militiaman, as she and other demonstrators chanted: “Death to the dictator.”


Arash Hejazi, a doctor standing near by, remembers her looking down in surprise as blood gushed from her chest. She collapsed. More blood spewed from her mouth. As she lay dying on the pavement, her life ebbing out of her, “I felt she was trying to ask a question. Why?” said Dr Hejazi, who tried to save her life. Why had an election that generated so much excitement ended with a government that claims to champion the highest moral values, the finest Islamic principles, butchering its own youth?
Neda's sacrifice reminds me of the young American patriots who risked their lives by placing their names on the unanimous independence Declaration of 1776, pledging to each other their Lives, their Fortunes, and their sacred Honor.

It is crystal clear to me that we owe our forefathers, who sacrificed everything,  the same pledge.

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