After Sunday clashes in Iran, 'Green Movement' supporters take stock
Following Iran clashes on Sunday between Green Movement supporters and Iranian security forces left at least 10 people dead, reformists say hundreds of supporters have been arrested. Now supporters of change are speculating about what comes next.
The young, unemployed college graduate joined Sunday’s bloody anti-regime protests in Tehran even after an army friend of his warned him that Iran's security forces might use live rounds. After several hours on the Iranian capital’s smoky streets, he returned home in a daze.Skip to next paragraph
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“People took the fight to the police in several places, attacking them with stones for the first time,” he said, asking that his name not be used. “We saw them overturn a police jeep and set it alight.”
The pace of change in demonstrators’ attitudes has accelerated, he said.
“We started [in June] with peaceful silent protests but then slogans got more radical,” he said. “At first, all we wanted was 'our vote back,' then 'our presidency,' and when there was still no answer we demanded 'Death to the Dictator.' "
Iran’s so-called Green Movement has returned to international prominence after several months when it simmered without spreading to poorer sections of society or the provinces. The regime has met the swelling movement with force. The official death toll from Sunday's crackdown stood at 10 on Monday and Harana, a website close to Iran's reformists, said more than 500 activists have since been arrested.
Among Sunday's dead was Ali Habibi Mousavi, a nephew of former presidential candidate and Green Movement leader Mir Hossein Mousavi. Reformists allege the younger Mousavi was targeted for assassination by the government. Reformists websites said Monday that his body was seized by government security forces, speculating that the regime is seeking to head off his funeral and ritual morning that could fuel further anti-regime protests.
“I’m very worried about the violence escalating,” said Djavad Salehi-Esfahani, a professor of Economics at Virginia Tech and a Brookings scholar who visited Iran last week. “Society is even more polarised and I can’t see the young pople easily giving up. It’ll take a lot more violence till they’re all scared off.”
The unemployed graduate has been captivated by the events unfolding around him. A child born after the Iranian Revolution, he has known nothing but the Islamic Republic. But his hope for change is tempered by caution.
“We’re just going to lose out if we change the whole regime now without knowing what we want to see in its place,” he said as the sound of people shouting "God is great" from their rooftops drifted in from an open window. “I even think that we’re not ready for such a momentous change.”