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Iran's Green Movement, Ten Years Later


At the website Zamaneh Media, Mahtab Divsalar looks back at Iran’s Green Movement, which launched ten years ago this month. It was triggered by a presidential election, won by incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in which vote rigging was widely suspected. Much of the population, especially young Iranians, had supported reformist candidate Mir Hussein Mousavi, whose campaign color (green) become the symbol of the movement. As Divsalar writes, the rigged election gave way to six months of protest and unrest across Iran, “which started peacefully but ended in a brutal crackdown.” Here’s an excerpt:

On 13 June protesters filled the streets in Tehran. Tehran saw the most intense protests in decades, with riot police using batons and tear gas against demonstrators. Tehran was in turmoil.

A journalist from Tehran who was attending the protests told Zamaneh that at the beginning, the protesters had diverse backgrounds. People from almost all social and economic classes were present.

“Until the Khamenei speech on 19 June the crackdown was not as brutal as after the speech. For that reason almost every group and social class were present in the protests…all age groups, rich and poor…you could see from middle age pro-monarch to young poor students “, the journalist (speaking on the condition of anonymity) told Zamaneh.

A wide range of citizens from ordinary people to artists to political figures and even conservatives attended the protests. In a very extraordinary show of defiance, on 15 June hundreds of thousands of people marched in silence around Tehran.

On 16 June the Guardian Council said that it was ready for a partial recount of ballots but rejected annulling the poll. Protests continued and spread to other big cities including Rasht, Orumiyeh, Zanjan, Zahedan, Shiraz, Isfahan, Tabriz and Mashhad. Several were killed during the protests. On 18 June thousands of pro-reform candidates wearing black and carrying candles rallied in Tehran to mourn those killed earlier that week.

Image: Supporters of Iranian presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousav, June 2009. Via Zamaneh Media.