date 21 June 2009 13:33
The world will remember Saturday June 20 2009 as the day Iran tipped from demonstration against rigged elections to revolution against dictatorship. The day when the regime, determined to stop people from demonstrating in the streets , threw it's ugly militiamen into the battle with all the brutality you could expect from them, but encountered infuriated crowds far more numerous than them prepared to continue their fight for freedom whatever the price to pay. And where Tehran suddenly became an open battlefield where resolved and furious demonstrators, fighting an ugly street fight and winning the ground back from the armed police and basiji militias, showed the world how serious they were about changing their lives now.
The world will remember this day as a day of mourning, for continuous videos, photos and eyewitness testimonies kept on submerging the internet at an incredible rate with dramatic images of women and men shot dead and agonizing in front of mobile phone cameras which caught so many of these events.
The world will remember this day as the day when the internet buried alive the traditional media. Raw amateur videos and photos taken with mobile phones by actors in the crowds were uploaded directly to viewing platforms and were immediately publicised on thousands of blogs, twitter feeds, youtube screens, facebook pages, and information on real-time developing events was possible while traditional media were looping on the same images and discussing the same rusty topics while internet-focused people were following minute by minute development from the multitude of uploads sent from the thousands of improvised journalists/actors present at the epicentre of the event.
The world will remember this day as the day when an agonizing regime couldn’t stop information flowing out of its country.
The lessons this generation of Iranian and this modern revolution are giving the world are invaluable and have far reaching consequences for the future, as Iran is emerging as the leading nation and model nation for all the oppressed populations around the world. The determination and courage these Iranians are showing are incredible. They said there were not afraid of dying for freedom and proceeded accordingly.
Four images, four moments, a revolution.
This day had such a building climax, from early reports around 4 p.m Tehran time to late in the evening, for us who frantically followed tens of different internet leads per minute trying to grasp a picture of the battlefield from numerous, contrary and fragmented pieces of information.
First reports were desperate. Images and twitter comments around 4 o’clock (Teheran time) all sent the same terrified statements. Police and Basiji were everywhere, acting very violently, protestors could not reach Enghalab square, they were blocked, cornered, violently beaten. One image showed the situation more strongly than others: rows of fully equipped antiriot police on Tehran street. The situation seemed desperate for a while.
Then slowly, first without pictures but fed by multitudes of twits, information about violent street fights everywhere. Still in this fragmented extraordinary multitude of news feeds, some contradicting others but all in the end sending the same picture: Things in Tehran were getting nasty and severe fighting was under way in many different places all over the capital city. Reports on twitter were saying people had been shot dead at some places, Basiji were brutally beating people in other places, police was refusing to fight people in other places, Basiji and police were retreating in front of resolved and infuriated crowds in other places. It went on like this for a while, then suddenly a first video footage on BBC Persian’s website showed incredibly violent scenes with hundreds of angry protestors hiding behind what seemed to be a burning car in front of burning building and all suddenly running for cover as intense fireshots were heard and bullet impacts on walls were caught by camera as a man was firing at the crowd from the upper level of a building which was apparently attacked. Then more videos quickly appeared of street confrontations in the middle of hundreds of twits from the ground telling of more fragmented events. It was impossible to grasp a clear picture of what was happening. Were the protestors gaining ground or were they in difficulty in front of the apparent sudden resolve of the regime to crackdown on them. One thing though was certain. Tehran was on fire.
And suddenly, there was hope, as footages appeared showing in different places images of police and militiamen retreating in front of ever increasing enraged determined fighting crowds. It seemed that on the ground arithmetics and numbers were turning to the advantage of the protesters, that they were regaining the streets which just a couple hours before seemed so thickly occupied by security forces that it would be impossible for anything to happen in Tehran that day.
Then, suddenly, amid more footages of street fights and civil war with protestors occupying what looked like larger and larger places, the incredible video of a mass rally on a large boulevard, which looked by its number pretty much like last Monday (June 15th) when Iranians suddenly realized they were the people of Iran and their numbers and resolve could change their future. The only difference which immediately my Iranian friend here spotted was that this crowd showed none of the green signs they had so systematically worn the previous week. As a direct result of supreme leader Khamenei’s bid to hush down the civil unrest, this was not any more about elections within the system, this was now an open defiance of the entire regime.
And horror struck by surprise, as one of the many links we were constantly opening showed this dramatic footage of young girl falling wounded and rapidly agonizing as she massively started to bleed from her mouth and nose having just been shot in the heart by Basiji. And of many more young people with severe bullet wounds amid unconfirmed reports of helicopters dropping chemical agents on protesters and of hospitals being submerged by wounded and basiji men taking them away and of foreign embassies opening their doors to help the wounded. Meanwhile, in the old media desert, there were very scarce reports from television channels and newspapers of police cracking down on protesters who were they said no more than 2000-3000.
And finally what? As day turned to night in Tehran the flow of information significantly reduced and became irrelevant as Americans argued over Obama’s tactic and others compassionately fed us with uninteresting insights about what they felt in 12 words. Protestors had vanished into the dark night, cries resumed with ever more drama and intensity from the roofs of Tehran as exhausted and distressed citizens shouted "Allah u Akbar" in clear reference to the 1979 revolution and in continuing defiance of the hated regime which today showed the deep ugliness and totalitarian aspect of its nature. The fight was fierce, both sides showed resolution, no clear winner emerged. The battle for Iran continues…