Green Left Weekly Fighting Fund: Letter from the struggle for democracy in Iran

Below are extracts from a June 18 email from Tehran, Iran. It was posted on the Socialist Pakistan News e-list by Farooq Sulehria, a comrade from the Labour Party Pakistan. Sulehria is a regular contributor to Green Left Weekly.

It is a view from the ground level of the huge protest movement facing brutal repression from the Iranian government.

"Yesterday, another massive, peaceful demonstration made its way through central Tehran towards Tehran University. At least a million people, I would say, dressed mostly in black to mourn the deaths of the past days … hoping that this election will at least be annulled.

"But as we walked through the streets, I wondered how things will form over the next few weeks, and what will come out of all this in terms of a real opposition and change.

"For now, people are holding photos of [opposition leader Mir-Hossein] Moussavi, since he should be their president. But neither Moussavi nor any of the other reformists would become real opposition leaders at this time, as this would signify a move towards another revolution or at least a major systemic shift, and I don't believe that any of these people want this anyway.

"It is hard to know exactly what is happening in the top ranks, and what political phase the country is moving into. It is a time to be thinking, interacting, and planning.

"There is no real strategy or an idea of what shape this action should take. It is refreshing to be constructing a movement with people and working towards something collectively without leaders around or political parties.

"The resilience and the determination to change things peacefully is remarkable for me. It has made me think about a lot, and to watch how people work together to maintain silence during the demonstrations is beautiful.

"One thing is sure: people are no longer going to accept the self-censorship or fear that has been imposed upon them.

"It is already easier to speak to people on the street and in shops without wondering if they work for the secret service, or if they will tell the police.

"Like many others in the city, our house had become a sort of unofficial 'newsroom' with people coming in and out, working, making phone calls, emailing, and sleeping in different spots around the house.

"Last night Basijis [fundamentalist paramilitaries] were roaming the neighbourhood, going into some homes to gather satellite dishes.

"As of today, we have reports of 500 people arrested: political leaders, students, activists, journalists, and others who have been suspected of dissent.

"Many of them were beaten by plainclothes police or Basijis, and their homes have been raided. There is a harsh crackdown. I am debating on leaving soon, before it becomes impossible to do so."

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