Politeía Digest

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Iran opposition Green Movement evolves under pressure

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By Bozorgmehr Sharafedin

It is clear that Monday’s demonstrations in Iran came as a big surprise to both the government and the leaders of the opposition Green Movement.

The fact that people were willing to come out onto the streets in defiance of the security forces showed just how much anger there still was against the government among some sections of the population.

It also underlined the emptiness of the government’s claims that the Green Movement was a spent force.

Since the brutal suppression of the protests triggered by the disputed June 2009 presidential election, the authorities have maintained the line that there is no powerful opposition movement in Iran.

As Monday’s protests were unfolding across the country – and opposition websites were buzzing with news from the streets – state media were continuing to report that all was quiet.

Crackdown

But as Iranian MPs discussed the events in parliament on Tuesday, it was clear from the angry tone of the debate that they were seriously worried by what happened.

For the first time, the Majlis heard calls not just for the prosecution of the two main opposition leaders – Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi – but even for them to be executed.

It is hard to estimate exactly how many people joined in the demonstrations in Tehran and other cities on Monday. One reason is that the security forces did all they could to prevent people gathering in one place.

In an echo of the protests on Tahrir (Liberation) Square in Cairo, the demonstrators in Tehran headed for the capital’s Azadi (Freedom) Square.

But security forces blocked many of the main roads leading into the city centre, meaning that the protests were dispersed.

This is exactly the same strategy which the authorities have been using against the opposition as a whole over the past two years.

By keeping the leaders of the Green Movement under virtual house arrest, and detaining many others, the authorities have prevented its mainly middle-class supporters from forming a broader network of support across different levels of society in Iran.

They have also cracked down on trade union activists, students and women’s rights groups in attempt to ensure that none of these could join forces and begin to turn the tide. Read more at BBC

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Written by Theophyle

February 16, 2011 at 9:16 am

Posted in BBC, Event, Geo Files, Iran, Middle East

Tagged with , ,

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