Monday, June 15, 2009

Democracy is Under Attack

I don't pretend to be an expert on the governmental systems of foreign nations, but there is something happening in Iran that will define both the nation and the region for years and possibly decades to comes. All phone lines out of the nation's capital city, Tehran, have been severed. Internet use is being heavily monitored and followers of the reformist candidates are no longer sure what is real and what is a set-up by state officials.

I'm sitting in a library in Muncie, Indiana, so I'm not exactly a credible source on what's happening on the streets of Tehran, but I'll conclude with a few links that have information about the events occurring in Tehran.

Feel free to add anything else in the comments section.


nolan said...

Dozens of moderate clerics and reformist political leaders in Tehran and around Iran have been arrested. Mousavi himself is apparently not under house arrest, although he is "being closely monitored by police," which sure SEEMS like house arrest. Ayatollah Khameni has restated his position that the election results were fair. There seems to be significant violence going on at universities around the country, as well as hundreds of arrests and reports of tear gas in the dorms.
Here are just five reasons to doubt the results:
1) A record number of votes were cast yet it took just a few hours for the interior ministry to release the results. They counted 10 million more ballots 30 times faster than ever before.
2) Tabriz: The city in Iran always votes for the ethic group Moussavi is part of yet some how it went 2-1 for Ahmadinijad. That’s like McCain winning Chicago.
3) In 2005 (the last elections in Iran) Ahmadinijad was more popular and less crazy yet only won after a run-off.
4) Turn out: The turn out was ridiculously high and in the past when this has happen the reformist candidate has always won. Not to mention the pre-election polls showed that only chance Ahmadinijad had was if the turn out was very low.
5) Finally, reports I have read from Moussavi campaign say that the interior ministry called him and said that he has won the election only for that same ministry to go on TV to say Ahmadinijad won.
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Bill said...

Good job, Mike. This is really important and we should be trying to cover this issue as much as we can. I was working on my own post about this before I saw that you made this

Keep up the good work!

nolan said...

Twitter for an Iranian woman: "If Iran sleeps tonight, It will sleep forever"

Anonymous said...

Bill, feel free to do your own entry. Especially if you have more to add to the issue. I know for sure that I didn't cover the whole thing in two paragraphs and four hyperlinks!

ShamRockNRoll said...

I've been out of the loop for the last few days and trying to catch up with all this right now. Interesting stuff. Thanks for getting a post up about this.

OB said...

Good points, but I think we have to be careful--we're not yet sure if the election really was fixed, and from the way it looks, Iranians seem to be protesting without government repression. Democracy, as of yet, is not necessarily "under attack," (even though it has practically been a sham anyways, covering a theocracy that does not answer to the will of the people). I think its important to remember two things. First, remember that Bush justified war in Iraq in the name of "democracy" and based off of lacking and faulty evidence. We shouldn't intervene even by an official statement unless we have the facts right. Second, I think President Obama is doing the right thing by not picking sides--not only because of this lacking evidence, but because a US endorsement of the reform movement would actually be ammunition for the reactionaries. Rachel Maddow put it well by saying that this would have the same effect as Dick Cheney and Karl Rove endorsing a democratic primary candidate--it would hurt the reform movement, just as this would hurt the candidate.

We should step back and let the Iranian people say what they want--to much damage has already been done by the US telling countries what the voice of their people is, when it is really the distant, biased, and sometimes self-interested voice of American officeholders.

OB said...

It's interesting that 5 days after the election the Iranian people are still not letting up in their protests. I believe 500,000 went to the streets today in Tehran. I think that these protests are now illegal but they are still occurring and are receiving much attention. This is a hopeful sign, I think, of a growing democratic political culture in Iran, which can be an important catalyst for political change. I stand by what I said earlier about the US staying out of this for now. Now that the Iranian soccer team has voiced (or wristed) their support for reform on international TV, it seems that this election issue isn't going to blow over as easily as thought. A new president in Iran probably won;t bring much change, but this cultural shift could surely be a considerable force, now or in the future.

"Batman" said...

This is a golden opportunity for Obama to capitalize with "soft power." I like how he has stated that Iranians should choose Iran's leaders, now let's throw in a bit about Iran's government being the problem and not the Iranian people. Believe it or not, Iranians actually have a higher regard for America than most other people in the region. The pro-American sentiment is even higher among members of the younger generations, who do not have the Shah in their memories. A hands-off, smartly critical approach to the situation could help our standing even more. While I thought Obama's promises to meet Ahmadenijad were naive, I think a careful, intelligent diplomatic stance and the prevention of Iran acquiring a nuke will lead to open relations with Iran within our lifetime

OB said...

A University of Michigan expert who had been undecided about whether or not there was fraud in the election has come out to say that there was significant fraud.