At the same time, the radical crackdown against protesters and their freedoms sparked a thirst for information and transparency among the Iranian people.
“This is the time to sit back and think about how we can organize and strategize against the government to make significant changes,” Maryam said. “I cannot say too much over the phone.”
She repeated that phrase many times; fearful of getting into too much detail, and almost certain her line was tapped by the government.
As election results were announced last year—significantly ahead of the time it would actually take to count the votes—the regime proved its corruption and provoked its people. Iranians filled the streets in protest not just against a rigged election but also against 30 years of tyrannical rule.
Immediately, and in the days that followed, the regime began a brutal and vengeful crackdown on protesters. The wrath of the regime’s Revolutionary Guard was not enough. Thousands of Basiji militiamen, imported Iraqis, Pakistanis, Saudis, Palestinians, and others, were paid hundreds of dollars each day, equivalent to the monthly salary of many Iranian professionals, to violently and relentlessly attack demonstrators. Tear gas, acid, batons and even guns were used against the people.
The Iranians persisted. As the government took away their Internet connections, the Iranians found ways to bounce Internet connections through proxy servers. Journalists banned from the country resulted in an emergence of a nation of citizen journalists. As government forces cracked down against women and murdered Neda Agha-Sultan, women quickly came to the forefront of the movement. When the clerics became more radicalized and religious in their sermons, the Iranian people became more secularized and nationalistic. It began as a movement for reform and an election debate, but evolved into a battle to regain control of a 5,000 year-old heirloom.
More than half way through this year, the Iranian people gradually realized that in order to be successful in their endeavor, they must have organization and leadership. The biggest obstacle the opposition faces is that they lack both. The Iranians learned that demonstrations would not help gain either. They only put the lives of innocent Iranians at risk. This new-found awareness has given the opposition a new perspective from which to operate. Iranians are looking to engage one another in meaningful dialogue. They are publishing valuable content, publicizing critical information, and looking for unique ways to communicate political messages to one another.
The alternative, as they witnessed, is watching their loved ones be rounded up and taken to Evin Prison.
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