Sunday, June 14, 2009

Tehran: 'Wenceslas Square or Tiananmen?'

Iran's Stolen Election
Laura Secor, The New Yorker: There can be no question that the June 12, 2009 Iranian election was stolen. Dissident employees of the Interior Ministry, which is under the control of President Ahmadinejad and is responsible for the mechanics of the polling and counting of votes, have reportedly issued an open letter saying as much...

What is most shocking is not the fraud itself, but that it was brazen and entirely without pretext... To announce a result this improbable, and to do it while locking down the Interior Ministry, sending squads of Revolutionary Guards into the streets, blacking out internet and cell phone communication and shuttering the headquarters of the rival candidates, sends a chilling message to the people of Iran -- not only that the Islamic Republic does not care about their votes, but that it does not fear their wrath...

Hardly anyone in Iran's opposition wants a bloody uprising. That road has been too well traveled in Iran, and so the contemporary debate has been among nonviolent tactics, some with longer timelines than others. But now the regime has forced the issue, leaving Iranians who oppose strong-arm tactics and hard-line policies with just two cards in their hands. One is passivity, and the other is revolt. The outcome depends in part on how high a price the regime is willing to extract from the people.

In the days before the vote, my Iranian contacts breathlessly compared the atmosphere in Iran to that of 1979, the year of the Islamic Revolution. In the last twenty-four hours, the unavoidable analogy has become 1989. The big question is where we are: Wenceslas Square or Tiananmen.

Image source here.