Wednesday, June 17, 2009



"US was against Iran gov 30 years & now that they are killing PPL, they r supporting the Iranian gov!what a shame! "

So says a message from Iran.

Another says:" They call homes and a tape says you were in the protests,don't repeat otherwise you will be arrested. Tell people don't afraid."

A third message says: "Moussavi asks people to confront military with flowers not guns - we want peace. "

Yet another asks: "Will this be the Berlin Wall coming down or just another Tianenmen Sq.? I wonder to myself."

Messages in plenty keep coming out of Iran----despite the action taken by the security agencies of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to block access to the outside world through the Internet and telephone to its poitical dissidents, who have mounted a determined campaign against what they describe as the fraudulent re-election of Ahmadinejad.

The Iranian authorities have sought to impose an iron curtain across the country to prevent news of the widespread demonstrations against the allegedly rigged elections from reaching the outside world. They have not been able to.

The dissidents have till now succeeded in keeping touch with each other and with the outside world. The messages sent across are very brief and in telegraphic language.

They give an idea of the anger which has been sweeping across the country. But they do not enable one to quantify the extent and spread of the anger. The demonstrations held in Tehran and outside by the reformists have been impressive. Their tactics recall those adopted by the anti-Shah demonstrators of 1978-79.

The word of mouth calls for demonstrating, which one saw in 1978-79, have been supplemented by mobilisation through the Internet.

There is a difference. The demonstrations of 1978-79 were guided and orchestrated from outside by a group of political and student exiles based in the West. The demonstrations of today are spontaneous.

There is so far no evidence to show any orchestration of the demonstrations by the exiles abroad. Nor is there any evidence to show orchestration by Mir Hossein Mousavi and other defeated candidates, though they have been joining them.

The demonstrators are anxious not to give an opportunity to Ahmadinejad's security agencies to discredit them by projecting them as acting at the behest of foreign agencies and elements.

While keeping the outside world informed, they are taking care not to give the impression of seeking outside support. They want to keep up the spontaneous nature of the demonstrations and to maintain their momentum in order to exercise pressure on the Government for the annulment of the election results and for a fresh election.

Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has evidently been on the defensive. After having initially given the impression of endorsing the legitimacy of the election results, he has now been trying to project a seemingly neutral position. He has asked the supporters of the reformist groups to let the Guardians Council decide on their objections.

The Council has suggested a selective recount in constituencies including some in the home province of Mousavi to check whether there were any mistakes or irregularities. The dissidents are not prepared to accept this. They are sticking to their demand for a fresh poll.

Whether they succeed or not would depend on whether they are able to maintain the momentum, peaceful nature and spontaneity of their demonstrations.

The Government of Ahmadinejad would like nothing better than an outbreak of violence or indications of instigation from outside.

The administration of President Barack Obama has been well-advised to avoid any comments, which could be projected as instigation. Congressional leaders in the US and other Western leaders should emulate this example.

Keep quiet and watch should be their policy for the present. (17-6-09)

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-Mail: )

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