A First-Person Account From Iran

(WARNING: You may find the images of death and violence contained below disturbing.  Please do not scroll down if you do not wish to see them.)

I received this post from our colleague, William Kern, the Managing Editor of WORLDMEETS.US, last night, before the images hit the newspapers this morning.  It is part of this continuing dialogue with his friend and colleague in Iran.  Below is their very moving and telling conversation via Skype.

While the world of the web, Twitter and Facebook, may be driving this Iranian revolt in ways we could not imagine forty years ago, or even 5 years ago, it is part of a tradition that is much older and deeper.

In my lifetime it is connected to the 1956 revolt in Hungary against the Soviet Union’s domination of their nation.   The world watched in awe, but that is all we did was watch, as the Soviet troops and tanks mowed down the resistance fighters and crushed their revolution.  The same thing happened again in Prague, Czechoslovakia in 1968, when lovers of freedom stood up against the Soviets demanding freedom.   At that time it was part of a worldwide revolutionary movement for change that grew out of the civil rights and anti-war movements of the 1960’s here in America.   We had our own standoffs with the police and the establishment powers of our nation, which used its federal power through efforts like COINTELPRO to intimidate and murder those who stood against the war and racism.

In recent years, we have seen Tiananmen Square and the demonstrations in China in 1989, the bursts of Burmese resistance in 2007 against their own tyranny, and the Tibetans demanding freedom from the Chinese government.   We could see all these as defeats; I suppose in their immediate aftermath they felt like stunning losses.

Having been part of movements like this in my past I understand the intensity, passion and power of those moments.   How quickly events change around you.   How the spirit of resistance kept your spirits high enough to face any response.   Even when you knew the moment was lost, you could not back down to the might around you.

If the Iranian rebellion is crushed, it will not be a defeat.  It is a part of a continuum of resistance to tyranny and working to create a culture of justice and human rights in our world.   Every such powerful moment widens the cracks in the weakening walls of oppression.  It sows seeds for the power of change in generations to follow.

Already in Iran we are seeing deep divides, even within the ruling circles of the theocracy.  Who knows how all this will unfold in the days ahead?

The photograph and Skype dialogue below shows us the power of this moment.  The photo itself should sear itself into the consciousness of the world as a symbol of why we stand for freedom.


(The name of the Iranian has been removed to protect his identity.)

[12:45:35 AM] willkern: Are you alright, ________?
[12:50:06 AM] ________: hi
[12:50:09 AM] ________: i am ok
[12:50:20 AM] willkern: Vey good
[12:50:23 AM] willkern: very good
[12:50:32 AM] ________: but yesterday was horrible
[12:50:57 AM] willkern: We have all been holding our breath since the Supremo’s speech
[12:51:17 AM] willkern: You are not alone – the whole world is riveted
[12:51:22 AM] ________: even my brother received club strokes
[12:51:40 AM] willkern: These will be very treacherous weeks
[12:51:50 AM] willkern: But I state the obvious
[12:51:58 AM] ________: and a young girl was killed
[12:52:36 AM] willkern: We have seen the photos – you would be amazed by the torrent of information that’s getting out, my friend
[12:52:50 AM] ________: yes
[12:52:57 AM] willkern: This is all happening in the open
[12:52:57 AM] ________: this is the facebook revolution
[12:53:00 AM] ________: twitter revolution
[12:53:37 AM] ________: regimes is trying to restrict the routes connecting us to teh world
[12:53:42 AM] willkern: Power never concedes without a fight
[12:53:48 AM] ________: yes
[12:53:58 AM] ________: and Mousavi announced he is prepared to be killed
[12:54:00 AM] willkern: It will not end easily – it is a war of wills
[12:54:17 AM] willkern: I know – it’s quite a dramatic development
[12:54:22 AM] ________: I don’t really know how much he will come with people
[12:54:34 AM] ________: but he has taken these few steps well
[12:54:39 AM] willkern: He has become a symbol that even he has little control over
[12:54:48 AM] ________: Khatami lost similar opportunities ten years ago
[12:55:08 AM] ________: Khatami did not have the courage to call the people to streets
[12:55:13 AM] ________: but Musavi could
[12:55:19 AM] ________: and this is an advantage
[12:55:40 AM] willkern: I’m going crazy looking for content about Iran AND the United States
[12:55:50 AM] ________: http://aghaejaze.files.wordpress.com/2009/06/neda2.jpg?w=468&h=269

[12:56:02 AM] ________: she is the girl who was shot dead
[12:56:08 AM] ________: look at her eyes
[12:56:12 AM] ________: a world of hope
[12:56:20 AM] willkern: ________ – all of our news coverage has her face blurred
[12:56:22 AM] ________: and love for freedom is waving in her eyes
[12:56:54 AM] ________: yes I see footage in some tvs
[12:57:03 AM] ________: they have done so
[12:57:36 AM] ________: this story has brought all Iranians under a single flag
[12:57:51 AM] ________: even the Iranians who never engaged in politics in Europe and US
[12:58:00 AM] ________: are now express sympathy
[12:58:08 AM] ________: these are great days in our history
[12:58:14 AM] willkern: But ________ – what about among the poor? It is said that Ahmadinejad has tremendous support among the least advantaged and educated
[12:58:36 AM] ________: well I think the movement has spread from the north of Tehran
[12:58:39 AM] ________: to the center
[12:58:59 AM] ________: and may spread to poorer slums
[12:59:17 AM] ________: but it is natural that in small towns and villages there is no considerable movement
[12:59:24 AM] ________: I have experienced another revolution
[12:59:27 AM] ________: in 1979
[12:59:39 AM] ________: the wave of movement reaches these parts lately
[12:59:46 AM] willkern: Look ________ – I am glad you are still in one piece – but this could be the most dangerous time – so let’s not talk politics
[12:59:56 AM] ________: and conservative people in these parts usually wait and see
[1:00:05 AM] ________: they like to be assured of the balance of power
[1:00:11 AM] willkern: The crackdomn is likely to get much worse before it gets better
[1:00:15 AM] ________: ok
[1:00:19 AM] willkern: crackdown ..
[1:00:40 AM] willkern: I want you to know that billions support you —
[1:00:41 AM] ________: The crackdown will produce a reverse result
[1:00:54 AM] ________: thank you
[1:00:58 AM] ________: this is a cause of humanity
[1:01:02 AM] ________: not just we Iranians
[1:01:06 AM] ________: the Chinese
[1:01:13 AM] ________: people in Burma
[1:01:18 AM] willkern: This may take some time – but this could the beginning
[1:01:23 AM] ________: in every other country
[1:01:27 AM] willkern: of a great change
[1:01:32 AM] ________: yes
[1:01:42 AM] ________: this time the people may be defeated
[1:01:52 AM] ________: but they have taken a step forward
[1:02:00 AM] willkern: There is no way to know – because the leadership is split
[1:02:05 AM] ________: and this defeat is different from the previous one
[1:02:10 AM] willkern: Now take care my friend –
[1:02:14 AM] ________: ok
[1:02:22 AM] ________: thank you for your consideration
[1:02:33 AM] ________: we thank everybody who follow up our situation
[1:02:43 AM] willkern: Take the least possible risk, ________
[1:02:50 AM] ________: ok
[1:03:02 AM] willkern: I know you will do what you think is right
[1:03:08 AM] ________: I would have liked to be on the field on Saturday
[1:03:19 AM] ________: but my mother begged me not to go
[1:03:38 AM] ________: though she herself went to the demonstration
[1:03:40 AM] willkern: If I were in your shoes – I do not know what I would do
[1:03:56 AM] ________: she says she can never come from this prison to that
[1:04:01 AM] ________: as she did for ten years
[1:04:14 AM] willkern: She is a brave lady
[1:04:19 AM] ________: yes
[1:04:31 AM] ________: in 60s she still like to be with the youth in actions
[1:04:38 AM] willkern: Do what you think will do the most good, my friend
[1:04:46 AM] ________: ok
[1:04:49 AM] willkern: Right
[1:04:53 AM] ________: of course I always think of your advice
[1:05:13 AM] willkern: For my part – I am working on an article from the French on the crisis and will post it soon.
[1:05:25 AM] ________: ok
[1:05:31 AM] willkern: Go with God my friend
[1:05:34 AM] ________: I’d like to read it when you’re finished
[1:05:39 AM] ________: tnx
[1:05:46 AM] ________: take care friend
[1:05:49 AM] ________: bye for now
[1:05:57 AM] willkern: You know where to find me
[1:06:06 AM] ________: yes I know
[1:06:06 AM] ________: always
[1:06:17 AM] ________: I also have a facebook page
[1:06:23 AM] ________: you can visit it
[1:06:25 AM] willkern: What is it>
[1:06:27 AM] willkern: ?
[1:06:38 AM] willkern: I will share it
[1:06:43 AM] ________: I have it with real name
[1:06:50 AM] ________: ________
[1:06:54 AM] willkern: I’ll share it if you want me to
[1:07:00 AM] ________: yes
[1:07:02 AM] ________: waiting for u
[1:07:21 AM] ________: what is your facebook Id?
[1:07:46 AM] willkern: William Kern
[1:07:55 AM] ________: i will add u
[1:08:05 AM] willkern: Please do, my friend.
[1:08:07 AM] ________: ok
[1:08:13 AM] ________: well i must go
[1:08:18 AM] ________: bye
[1:08:20 AM] willkern: I don’t look at it too often – but more and more lately
[1:08:21 AM] ________: dear will
[1:08:27 AM] willkern: Until we meet again
[1:08:38 AM] ________: with hope
[1:08:43 AM] ________: hope never dies
[1:08:45 AM] ________: bye
[1:09:29 AM] willkern: Talk to you soon, my friend.
Update: Here is a subsequent conversation they had earlier today.

[10:43:45 AM] willkern: ________ – are you and your family alright?
[10:44:10 AM] ________: yes
[10:44:15 AM] ________: I am all right
[10:44:17 AM] ________: how are u?
[10:44:38 AM] ________: only my sister and brother lashed by security forces on Saturday
[10:44:41 AM] ________: and nothing else
[10:44:50 AM] willkern: I’m working every moment to find more content I can post
[10:45:20 AM] ________: unfortunately my facebook faces errors so that i can’t add you
[10:45:23 AM] willkern: We are all thinking about you and watching
[10:45:35 AM] ________: this trouble I think is for the restrictions imposed by regime
[10:45:40 AM] willkern: There will be a time for that
[10:45:46 AM] ________: yes
[10:45:54 AM] ________: here the girl NEDA
[10:46:00 AM] ________: has turned to be the symbol of the movement
[10:46:06 AM] ________: that poor innocent girl
[10:46:15 AM] willkern: I posted the picture and video in the last story I posted
[10:46:22 AM] ________: thank you very much
[10:46:34 AM] ________: we need a global campaign in support of Iran
[10:46:44 AM] willkern: I have received three or four e-mails from people about that
[10:46:48 AM] ________: I admire Americans and Europeans for their sympathy
[10:47:04 AM] willkern: Oh believe me, ________ – you have a global campaign
[10:47:19 AM] ________: BBC Persian covers the events broadly
[10:47:31 AM] willkern: Can you read it?
[10:47:31 AM] ________: as well as Aljazeera Alarabiya etc
[10:47:48 AM] ________: your article?
[10:47:58 AM] willkern: BBC Persia
[10:48:06 AM] ________: yes
[10:48:13 AM] ________: we have satellite receivers here
[10:48:21 AM] ________: this is the best source for us
[10:48:30 AM] willkern: I hear that BBC Persia has started adding satellites to make sure the signal gets through
[10:48:50 AM] ________: it had to move from Hotbird to other satellite transponders
[10:49:04 AM] ________: and we receive it through Nile Sat
[10:49:28 AM] ________: today the workers installing satellite receivers equipment have a brisk market 😀
[10:49:46 AM] ________: people are decisive to break this news boycott
[10:50:04 AM] willkern: How does it feel in the street now?
[10:50:16 AM] ________: today streets were relatively calm
[10:50:20 AM] willkern: Can you walk around freely?
[10:50:28 AM] ________: tomorrow the people may gather in two squares of Tehran
[10:50:47 AM] ________: sparodic clashes happend but not as broad as saturday
[10:50:57 AM] ________: you can see pics on news.gooya.com
[10:51:07 AM] ________: it is of course Farsi-language
[10:51:23 AM] willkern: I will look at that
[10:51:33 AM] ________: http://news.gooya.com/didaniha/archives/2009/06/089690.php
[10:51:35 AM] willkern: I discovered yesterday ________ =-
[10:51:49 AM] ________: this shows that even some clerics have joined the demonstration
[10:51:56 AM] willkern: That Google now has a machine translator for Persian
[10:52:13 AM] ________: yes
[10:52:30 AM] ________: and i heard google has made it possible to see tehran streets online
[10:52:49 AM] ________: http://news.gooya.com/didaniha/archives/2009/06/089608.php
[10:52:54 AM] willkern: Google Earth?
[10:53:09 AM] ________: yesterday BBC showed footages from Tohid Sq. in Tehran
[10:53:26 AM] ________: it was unbelievable how people stormed adn police had to retriet
[10:53:29 AM] willkern: I will use these photos
[10:53:38 AM] ________: this has happened for the first time in the last 30 years
[10:53:52 AM] ________: I think it is through Google earth
[10:53:54 AM] willkern: How do you feel inside, my friend
[10:54:19 AM] ________: one min excuse me
[10:58:01 AM] willkern: Wow – these pictures are amazing. Iranian women are incredibly brave
[10:58:33 AM] ________: yes
[10:58:43 AM] ________: Iranian women are true heroes
[10:59:06 AM] ________: they save men from police
[10:59:29 AM] ________: a writer has told the new iranian revolution is a woman revoution
[10:59:45 AM] ________: this struggle may be defeated again
[10:59:52 AM] ________: but people learned many things
[10:59:56 AM] ________: and experienced new things
[11:00:09 AM] ________: they believed their power and overcame their fear
[11:00:51 AM] ________: http://news.gooya.com/didaniha/archives/2009/06/089610.php
[11:01:16 AM] willkern: ________ – I just hope that the power struggle with the leadership is resolved in favor of change
[11:01:34 AM] willkern: Look ________ – you stay as safe as possible. I have to go back to work and make use of all this
[11:01:43 AM] ________: http://news.gooya.com/didaniha/archives/2009/06/089663.php
[11:02:00 AM] ________: and this picture has this caption: The photo the shook the world!

[11:02:09 AM] willkern: That picture is particularly striking
[11:02:41 AM] willkern: Thank you for the links my friend.
[11:02:56 AM] willkern: I’ll be here all day working
[11:07:18 AM] ________: ok, have nice time but take care of yourself
[11:07:22 AM] ________: be healthy and happy
[11:07:29 AM] ________: I should go William
[11:07:37 AM] ________: bye