Student panel reflects on Iran’s election
Iran is going green, but it is not the same green movement that is taking place in the United States. Iran’s green movement has nothing to do with more fuel-efficient cars or saving paper, but rather a political movement that took place during Iran’s recent election.
AU’s Persian Club and Kennedy Political Union hosted four speakers to discuss the emotions and effects of Iran’s green movement.
The four speakers, whose last names were not released due to anonymity concerns, included Roya, a Georgetown student who was in Iran during the election, Adam, an AU student who spent the summer in Tehran with his family, Ali, a student from Georgetown who was visiting his family in Iran a few weeks after the election, and Nikki, an AU student who spent the summer in D.C. following Iranian politics.
Each speaker spoke about their personal ties to Iran and their emotions during the election.
In early June, Iranians cast their vote for president, many rallying behind independent reformist party candidate, Mir-Hossein Mousavi. When the incumbent president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, won the election, Iranians took to the streets, feeling as if they had been cheated of their vote. Iranian protestors used green to symbolize their support for Mousavi.
“[The] Pre-election atmosphere was pretty hyped up; people were wearing green head scarves, green wrist bands, lots of green in their clothing,” Adam said.
According to Roya, Ahmadinejad’s supporters were not comparable to the millions of youth, activist, labor unions, women and minorities who have been backing Mousavi for the duration of the campaign and election.
“The energy pre-election turned into this huge mobilization post election,” Roya said.
“After the election, we saw Iranians taking to the streets with one simple question: ‘Where is my vote?’ That question was met with brutality, violence and deplorable actions on behalf of the paranoid Islamic Republic of Iran,” Roya said.
According to Ali, life continued as usual during the day.
“It didn’t seem different when I landed ... You couldn’t tell anything was different if you ignored every you watched on T.V.,” Ali said. “But then people would open their mouths and anything and everything people would talk about was the election. It was still on people’s minds even three weeks after the fact.”
At night, protestors took to the streets.
“People felt betrayed that they got tricked into believing the process of the system of election,” Ali said.
During Friday prayer, Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, condemned protestors and called for them to stop protesting. Violence soon erupted in Iran.
“During dinner ... we heard pops going off and we looked out and there was tear gas coming in through the windows,” Adam said. “It’s important to distinguish between the peaceful protests the first week and the wholehearted crack down the week after.”
Despite strict limitations on the nation’s media, Iranians were able to show the world the brutality of the Iranian government.
“Everybody that had a cell phone or camera became citizen journalists,” Roya said. “Iranians were able to quickly ... get what they were seeing to CNN, to Facebook, to YouTube, to the rest of the people around the world and really show the world what was happening down the street.”
However, Ali disagreed that technology was an influential tool in Iran.
“They talked about a Twitter revolution in the media here, it wasn’t really like that,” Ali said. “It was more word of mouth that was triggered by what they had seen in the media. The role of technology was more getting the word out to the West.”
The Iranian election, for many, was a wake-up call.
According to Roya, the government had manipulated an already flawed system. The alleged voter fraud, which occurred in Iran, angered many Iranians, even those living in the United States.
“It wasn’t the protest atmosphere that was getting to me, it was wanting to be there that was getting to me because you felt so strongly for them,” Nikki said of her experience protesting in front of the United Nations in New York. “It was not my vote that was disregarded. It wasn’t my fight. But you always feel for people you share something with.”
You can reach this writer at firstname.lastname@example.org.