Popular revolt has swept away dictators first in Tunisia and then in Egypt. Anti-government demonstrations have broken out in Algeria, as an anti-authoritarian, hopefully democratic wave sweeps North Africa and the Middle East.
Is Iran next? Green Movement leaders encouraged by the fall of Mubarak in Cairo have called for demonstrations Monday against the mullahs. Thousands are expected to turn out, in spite of government threats:
Activists in Iran will go ahead with a banned rally in central Tehran on Monday in defiance of warnings by the regime and a heavy security presence, a figure in the green movement has told the Guardian.
Ardeshir Amir-Arjomand, a spokesman for the former presidential candidates Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, accused the government of hypocrisy in voicing support for protest in Egypt and Tunisia while refusing to allow a peaceful demonstration at home.
“Our dictators in Tehran are ruling the country with terror and panic,” he said. “They are afraid of their own people. They only sanction whatever pleases themselves, and disapprove of anything that is not under their surveillance. The call for renewed street protest in Iran is a clear sign that the green movement is still alive, and that’s why they’re afraid of it.”
The regime has every reason to be afraid. In the wake of stolen elections in 2009, thousands of Iranians turned out day after day to demand their freedom, often battling with the Basij, the militia the mullahs use as their own version of the SA, even at the risk of their own lives.
And they’re taking preemptive measures. Not only have they placed leaders under house arrest and warned people not to show up, but, to make sure the message gets across, they’ve stepped up the pace of the killings:
Since uprisings swept across the Middle East last month, Iran’s government has taken extraordinary measures to suppress dissent. It has executed one person every nine hours since Jan. 1, breaking the per- capita world record, human rights groups say. In January alone, Iran executed 87 people, the state media reported. That one-month tally is higher than the total annual executions in 2005, the year President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad came to power.
Analysts say the judicial process has been hasty and at least three victims were political prisoners arrested during the 2009 anti-government protests.
“The executions are a political message to the population: ‘don’t even think about unrest, we are in control and this is your punishment,’ ” said Hadi Ghaemi, the director of International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, an independent organization based in New York.
I don’t know what will happen tomorrow, but I suspect the Iranian people will show up in large numbers to tell the tyrants “Enough!” and to get the hell out. They’ve shown their bravery in the face of evil before, and I expect they will again. Each night for months now, the mullahs and President
Gilligan Ahmadinejad have been reminded of their people’s hatred as thousands of cries of “Allahu Akbar” and “Marg bar Dictator”* rise from the rooftops, and the black robes can’t be sleeping easy.
Good luck to the brave people of Iran, and here’s hoping they make Ayatollah Khamenei’s nightmare come true, tomorrow.
*”God is Great” and “Death to the Dictator.”