Friday, June 19, 2009

The Iranian Nightmare
Roja Bandari, 16/06/09

These past days have been a nightmare. I and my fellow Iranians have been watching the small amount of democracy present in Iran erased within a day. Everything we hear from Iran is heartbreaking but more than anything, I have been anxiously watching the international media. Although some reports are accurate, many huge mainstream media sources still frame the events in a way that really feels as if they are twisting the knife in our wounds.

What media does in this situation can make a difference in saving lives in Iran. If those in power in Iran realize that the western media has become sympathetic to them, they will be as brutal as they desire. I'm asking you to please use all your resources and connections to raise awareness about a few things and spread the word.

Some media are framing the protests as "people whose candidates didn't win are now angry". This is not true. People (including myself) are not angry because Mousavi didn't win. We are angry because we feel the election was stolen. We are in the streets to defend our right to decide a president (at least out of the 4 we could choose from). We are angry because something has happened that is changing our system fundamentally.

The allegations of fraud are portrayed as only brought up by Mousavi or only the reformists. But the other conservative candidate, Mr. Rezaei, has in fact filed a complaint about this election as well, asserting that the vote counts don't make sense. So this is not a complaint among two candidates, or two sides. This is about committing electoral fraud.

Some call the peaceful protests "riots." People are not rioting. Yesterday's protest which ended in killing of innocent people was a "silent" protest. People were walking in complete silence for the majority of the march. We are not hooligans. We are citizens who are very aware of what is happening and we will not stay quiet.Protesters are portrayed as pro-western and young. While most are young, and many might be interested in improving relations with the west, this is an inaccurate generalization. In pictures of large protests you can see older people, and you see many who seem more religious. It's really not about the west.

If Iranian state media (currently completely in the hands of a certain political segment) post any news in this regard, most mainstream media regurgitate it exactly, amplifying their voice and making it resonate all around the world. Often it is propaganda that gets amplified which is carefully crafted with the aim of crushing the protests. Most Iranians have no doubt that the results are fraudulent. A president with 24 million votes, does not face such persistent protests with people, whole families even, coming out in the face of blind violence. If you cheat a whole nation people will not accept it.

Maybe there is a subconscious attitude among western spectators that thinks Iranians can not take the results of a democratic election if it's not who they liked most. But we are not savages, in fact that is exactly why people are in the streets. If the right to vote was taken away in the US or Europe, everyone would be protesting. That's why Iranian people are coming out day after day after day.

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