Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Endurance: the women of Iran

I cannot sleep and not write this: Today in Haft-e Tir, there were so many members of basij that they outnumbered the demonstrators 3 or 4 to 1. They were less focused on women. This must be related to the murder of poor Neda. And this was also why whenever they got hold of a man, women would surround them and shout don't beat him, don't beat and they would turn and anxiously say we didn't beat him. It was astonishing. They explained; they talked... Women are playing an amazing role in the streets; both in terms of numbers and effectiveness.

Anne Applebaum, Washington Post: There is a connection between the violence in Iran over the past week and the women's rights movement that has slowly gained strength in Iran over the past several years...

Years of work and effort lie behind... the number of women on the streets -- and their presence matters. Their presence could strike the deepest blow against the regime... The Iranian clerics know that women pose a profound threat to their authority, too... the regime would not bother to brutally repress dissidents unless it feared them deeply. Nobody would have murdered a peaceful, unarmed young woman in blue jeans -- unless her mere presence on the street presented a dire threat.

The regime may succeed. Violence usually succeeds, at least in the short term, in intimidating people. In the long term, however, the links, structures, organizations and groups set up by Iranian women, not to mention the photographs of the past week, will continue to gnaw away at the Iranian regime's legitimacy... I cannot count how many times I've been told in recent years that 'women's issues' in the Islamic world are a secondary subject... But regimes that repress the civil and human rights of half their population are inherently unstable. Sooner or later, there has to be a backlash. In Iran, we're watching one unfold.

After 5 days of not being heard of a female student of Azad University of Bandarabbas, now it has been confirmed by security guards that she has been killed. She was shot and taken away by security guards in front of the entrance of Bandarabbas Azad University on June 18. To avoid spreading the news her body was buried secretly and without informing her relatives.

Gary Sick: Don't expect that this will be resolved cleanly with a win or loss in short period of time. The Iranian revolution, which is usually regarded as one of the most accelerated overthrows of a well-entrenched power structure in history, started in about January 1978 and the shah departed in January 1979. During that period, there were long pauses and periods of quiescence that could lead one to believe that the revolt had subsided. This is not a spring; it is a marathon. Endurance is at least as important as speed.
Image source here.