Monday, June 15, 2009
I have recently started making contact with people in and from Iran to get a personal perspective on what is happening over there. The following are the responses I have received, and I will continue to update them as they come. Other than excluding some of the names, I have not edited the notes. Posted times are CST.
All best to everyone in Iran and anyone being affected by this situation–through these discussions, I hope to learn more and gain a fuller understanding of what is really happening in your country.
July 28th: ‘What is victory? What is the goal?’
June 24th, 10:15 pm (EXCERPT from the Water Tower conversation. Click here for complete transcript.)
People are fighting for democracy and freedom. And when they get it, that’s victory. The victory is a free Iran. It’s been going on for the past 70 or 80 years. People want democracy, the only country in that region that wants democracy. And they’ve been doing it for 70, 80 years. The only reason they couldn’t be successful is because there’s a lot of oil over there.
Some people, some powers, some other countries, they don’t want to see democracy, because otherwise there’s going to be problems. The second biggest oil and gas producer—democracy, as you can imagine…they lose control. That’s why they suppress everything. One of them was the United States, 45 years ago. But now they’re not doing it. Fortunately they’re not doing it.
Who is not doing what?
The United States. You know, for the past ten years, they are not trying to meddle in Iran’s affairs. At some point, it is good. [But] they have to support economy pressure, sanctions. Bigger and more sanctions. We need sanctions from all the European countries and the United States. Don’t do any trades, don’t do any transactions with this government, until this government is gone. If they lose, they can’t sell oil anymore, and they lose control. That’s the thing.
June 20th, 6:02 pm (from the Daley Plaza protest)
(on what non-Persians can do) We just need support at this point. We just need support. The problem right now in Iran is none of these reporters, news reporters, they can’t do anything. So we need to send a message. All we need to do right now, we want to send a message to the people, and we want them to share the message all around the world. That’s all we need. We want to send our message from Iran to outside, because right now, there’s no way we can do that. No way. If you want to help, just send a message.
Whatever you see on these placards, these signs and everything, these are the messages of the people. Let’s just share it with all the world. Send it over. Everything–everything you see. Pictures, film, movies, everything. Anything you see, share it.
We’re just supporting a movement. There’s a movement towards democracy in Iran. And it was started many years ago, but for some reason, everybody’s tried to crack it down. And now people, they start it again. The people want democracy. Some of the people might be satisfied with the system, but most people don’t want this. They want democracy, they want freedom, everything. So that’s the movement. And every time they crack them down, they start it again. Eventually, it will prevail.
In your experience, what would you say is the percentage of people who are interested in democracy?
99%. They might not know the meaning of democracy, but they want freedom. It doesn’t matter, the definition of democracy. Some people might define democracy a different way. But whatever definition it is, they want freedom. That’s the main thing. Democracy, freedom, free elections–they want to choose the way they want to live, the way they want to talk. Everything. They want to have some sort of freedom.
June 19th, 2:48 pm
I was not surprised by the protests. From my first day in Tehran in May, people openly were expressing their views about the state of the nation and the upcoming elections I saw countless families with opposing views within the family regarding candidates Ahmadinejad and Moussavi. The opposing views were respectful and supportive, but nonetheless opposing. People were optimistic, hopeful, and EXCITED about the opportunities lying ahead for the country. I heard some talk and fear about election fraud, but it was similar to what I heard in the US leading up to our Nov 2008 elections.
Many people, including complete strangers (cab drivers, etc.) asked me–repeatedly, to the point that I was responding on auto-pilot—“Why did you guys [Americans] vote for Bush twice?” and “Why didn’t you take your opposition to his decisions to the streets and protest them….to make sure he and his cronies knew that you disagreed?” Based on the number of times I was asked these questions and what I intuited from the energy among the public, I thought that the election turnout would be unlike anything we’ve seen in the US and Iranians would protest if there is any indication of fraud.
Concurrently, I found myself in awe of the complexities I saw associated with leading the country. Unsaid in all the media banter and outcomes of this week are the stark contradictions that exist as reality in Iran:
1. It’s an incredibly modern country with a very youthful population (60% under the age of 28, total pop of 72M). The modernity of the country shocked me; you saw the pictures from my trip. I don’t think most people outside Iran have a clue.
2. A great majority of the population are highly educated, extremely tech savvy (I learned things from cab drivers and store clerks re: using my Blackberry that I NEVER knew–I thought I was tech savvy until I went to Iran!); politically mature; and multi-ethnic (Persians, Arabs, Kurds, Uzbeks, Afghanis, Russians, Armenians, Turks—ALL are citizens/Iranians and live side by side).
3. Young, aggressive, fast-moving population, but steeped in 7,000 years of culture and history (which contributes to their political and cultural savvy).
4. While dynamic and rapidly changing (our city block was rezoned, renumbered, with printed street and building signs posted, etc. just in the 10 days that I was there—entire announcement to completion cycle in 10 days..one example, I saw many!), the country is governed by a conservative religious theocracy and a constitution which was codified over a thousand years ago. Thus, every law has its roots in case law, legal precedents and jurisprudence over the span of a millennium. Can we imagine the complexity of US legal system 900 years from now? My head would explode if I tried! The legal system in Iran deals with this daily and has incredibly applied technology to mitigate the challenges. What I saw there, at work, was fascinating.
5. While tradition, culture, political savvy, multi-ethnic diversity, youthfulness, etc. are good, the challenges of governance, leadership, consensus building and appeasement of an entire country of Gen Y’ers MUST BE daunting. It felt daunting to me! And, I can only imagine how it must feel in a theocratic leadership model. It’s tough work leading a global law firm of mostly Gen X folks, I can’t imagine dealing with a majority Gen Y workforce—at least, not with the tools and systems we have in place today. Can you imagine leading 43 million Gen Y folks? There are some serious management and governance challenges there for which, I don’t believe, there are good existing models in the world today. No one has dealt with the same set of governance challenges to date. So, in many ways, the rules are being written as the country goes along. It was truly fascinating to watch while I was there.
Now, notwithstanding the above, I firmly believe people have a RIGHT to express their opposition. Clearly, most Iranians believed this also which they demonstrated by the 85% voter turnout. Also, they believed in their system, or they would not have shown up to vote in these numbers. Unprecedented in world history. I also did not hear ANYONE say they want to dismantle The Republic. No desire for a mass revolution to overthrow the entire system, etc. I DID HEAR, unanimously, that people want and need some changes to existing laws, governance models, economy, social freedoms and the offical representation of their country to the rest of the world (aka, they wanted an end to isolationism). And, based on my observations, I could not disagree and THEIR DEMANDS SEEMED LOGICAL. Not, in any way, because the government is “bad” or “evil,” etc. but simply because of the aforementioned challenges I just described.
June 19th, 11:27 am
Hallo Jack. This Film has been made from Germans for Iran. They says FREEDOM FOR IRAN
June 18th, 9:40 am
Eyewitness Reports on the Isfahan University of Technology Assaults
To members of Latest News From Iran
Today at 16:21
1. Some unknown thugs (and not the students) attack, damage and burn the campus buildings.
2. The chancellor himself calls the brutal forces to assault the students. Students and faculty are extremely outraged with him. After all, he is an Ahmadinejad appointee.
3. The regular campus guard cannot resist the brutal forces.
4. The brutal crimes include:
a. forcing the students to walk on glass with bare foots while being beaten with batons.
b. blocking the dormitory exit doors with fridges and the like .
c. thus, the students had no choice but to run away by jumping out of windows (up to 4 or 5 story building). Many seriously injured by doing this.
d. Those who managed to run away were followed into the woods and the mountains surrounding the campus. There was the danger of falling off cliffs in the dark night.
e. At least one confirmed death reported.
June 17th, 9:40 pm
In previous election 60% voted; and AN had just 5,000,000 vote in first round. In second round hi won, because people didn’t like his rival (Hashemi Rafsanjani). Hi won with 17,000,000. in this 4 years too many people of his fans, He lost too many of his fans, because of his management, international politics, lies, economic politics, his managerial team &…
This situation is so complicated. It is like a chess game.
June 17th, 5:38 pm
i take this in hospital, (right) when we washing him for Sepulchre!
he was 26 years old ,one of tehran university students,he was a women and human rights activist!
June 17th, 2:18 pm
I was one of those who denied to give vote in this election, but after discussing with some of my friends, they convonced me to study about their favorite candidate, Mr. Mirhossein Musavi, So we decided to go in his central election campaign, in Fatemi avenue iin Teheran. After visiting there and talking to the runners of that capaign, and feeling the sphere there I wasn’t anymore someone who was denying the election and decided to vote and work/help in that campaign. This was the beginning of my political career.
Around 2-3 weeks ago, the sphere in the campaign was so good that we couldn’t miss it. Me and my friends couldn’t wait to go back to the campaign. We had fun together and had the same goal. Support our candidate.During the last 2-3 weeks, we spent a lot of time in the campaign and did a lot for the publicity of Mr. Musavi and his campaign. I wouldn’t be lying if I say we just slept 4 hours a day! But we were happy to do this effort. Our target aim was clear and we were all moving in exactly the same direction. Getting Mr. Ahmedinedjad down and supporting Mr Musavi. We did all we coul for this aim! We went to several places which could be dangerous for us in university and college. There was even chance to have health damages like getting beaten or so but, all memebers of the campaign accepted all challenges without fear or being scared.
I can never forget the last 3 days, we were all working until 6 am for our campaign.In the election day we were all hoping that Mr Musavi is going to win with a good result. We were also thinking the other big possibility would be Mr Musavi and Mr Karubi at the second round of elections. A minority of us were thinking If AhmediNejad is very lucky he will be in the second round with Musavi. The night before elections, we had a reunion at the campaign. We were all happy because we expected to be the winners of the election. The polls were telling this not us!!
I can’t forget the moment when Basij and the revolutionary guard with some of AhmediNedjad supporters attacjed our campaign. We sat in the conference room and we heared screams and got informed they have attacked the campaign and us. Some of our friends held them back! We were blocked there for a couple of hours because of not having any security for our lives to get out!
After a few hours the anti riots guard came there came and helped us, we got out of campaign but we were terrified. Even with the presence of police officers we didn’t feel being safe and we hadn’t the feeling of being still alive. But we got the last but not the least beat when we heared the supreme leader telling us Ahmedinedjad is the winner with 68%. I exactly remember Old and young, Boys and grils everybody was depressive. Most of us were crying. We went home from the campaign and decided to follow the results at our homes, because we weren’t sure about our life’s protection and we didn’t feel being safe. Many of us didn’t even sleep that night where in shock because the strange results.
To come out of this mood we decided to go out and see what’s happening in the town and fresh ourselves. Everybody in the capital was in exactly the same mood as us! Most of the population wanted to deny the elections. When we were at the election’s campaign most people’s vote was Mr Musavi and they were sure of their votes. We heared the same status from other towns of Iran. Even my father was against voting and he denied to vote but, when he saw our efforts he got convinced to go and vote. The strange part is he even went earlier than I to vote. This happened to many other people I knew. Slowly slowly we heared the echoes of riots in Iran. Everybody came out from the shock to see what’s happening and they saw the same situation for everybody.
Our requests were clear and silent/peaceful. We just wanted to know the real result but, their forces were waiting for us and they began to attack us. They caused a lot of damage, beat people and killed some. I personally saw their agressivity and how they behaved us. They didn’t even respect old people & women and children. They just attacked everybody. It’s just like they are no human beings and they don’t feel the pain…
If you have been following the news these days, you can easily see Mr Karubi and Musavi’s supporters aren’t being vioent or agressive at all! But then they officialy killed 8 people from us in Azady (Liberty) square in Teheran. Some other resources tells us 16 person but we just have nothing to prove it. Millions of people come out to the streets to echo their voices to the world and tell to Mr Ahmendinedjad that those he called savage and violent are his troops and the revolutionary guard and himself, Not us! Some people are saying Mr Musavi is exactly like Mr Ahmedinejad, But in our believes when our other candidates are not allowed to get in presidential elections, Mr Musvai Mr Karubi were the bests. We wanted with all powers tell a big NO to Mr Ahmedinedjad and his diplomacy.
We just wanted a better change but they couldn’t even agree with our chosen “bad” between bad and worse! Now the Bazar (market) of iran is un-officially closed. The artists and Top sporters are also supporting us and are with us! We won’t stop this action until we get justice and democrasy. We still haven’t forgotten what Ahmedinedjad did to us!
We would do anything for saving Iran and keeping it alive, even die for it.
June 17th, 1:37 pm
Have received several phone calls from Iran telling us that the Iranian Police is holding back and being replaced with the so called “Palestinian Death Squad”
June 17th, 6:32 am
Iranian people have high political wisdom. In previous election just 60% voted; because they have serious problems with this system, and we wanted tell them this problem and protest. But In this election 80% of people of Iran voted; because lots of them don’t want AN as Iran president. We hear new things, and we want to change. Last day more than 3,000,000 were outside, no one call them, no television, no newspaper, no SMS, nothing. Just we call ourselves. But “a lot of people like AN outside too, a lot of iranians” they were just 5000. TV, Radio & … call them to come continusely. We menace to attack, shoot & …, but they were safe. The government brought them from work places, and cities around Tehran, with government’s buses, but we came just from Tehran.
SO where are this 24,500,000 people who voted AN??? This is a huge lie. Faces in Tehran are sad and worry. Compare with American people after election and Obama.
Someone say poor people voted AN. Someone say AN have more vote in small cities. This is another huge lie.
I work in a company on social entrepreneurship. I’ve been in poor area, live with poor people. I study on government effects and people behavior. I absolutely know this people. AN is populist. Some of them like him. But I’m sure most of them prefer Mousavi. Because he has programs for make entrepreneur opportunities. Because he wants solve their problems basically. I know them & I know their vote. Iran TV tell this things, because they want to make this cheat believable.
I hope have logical answers. I hope discover this black cheat.
June 16th, 10:46 am
these days everybody scare to tell other that they are part of it.they scared of what happen to the other?
i have 5 mounth son that s why i m not going out but i share information and tell people story ,my dad went for hair cut in vali asr street one of these violent that they call them (basigi)passing through one girl and people burned his motorcycle,when my dad arrived he was shocked.
we are going to out balcony and we shout (alah o akbar) now on our goverment that i shame to name them told to their supporter that yo have to go and shout the same …….
here evrything is like first day s of khomaini s rejim .
hope world hear us .
June 16th, 9:47 am
i m so happy that i heard you care about iran.nobody can imagin what is going on iran,i dont think people in world can feel it.i want to tell the world iranian goverments dont rescpect their people and everyday our victim increase.i was one of the people watching debat support my candidate and advertise for him.i m asking where is my vote?and i ask you to publish these information ,we want the world hear about iranian.
June 16th, 3:32 am
After 4 years of shame and limitations, Friday was to be a day to return Iranians’ true identity slowly back to them, people among them myself and my friends in The Netherlands striving for hope and a democratic government cast our votes. Here the majority was Mosavi’s and announce correctly by the embassy, god knows what was announced in Iran, 1600 people voted and it went very smooth. Majority were expecting manipulation but as days passed and Mosavi’s supporter realized they are the majority to the large extend, everyone thought they will cheat only to change vote slightly so AN losses with a small difference and save face.
What they did is outrages evident to how AN was not the elected president of our country. Supporting our brothers and sisters in Iran we are also protesting in front of the embassy and asking EU and Dutch Government not to recognize him as the elected president. Everyone I know wishes he/she was back in Tehran to join our people in the street to fight for our right and specially for our VOTE.
June 16th, 2:17 am
hello jack, i appreciate your attention.
in my country the last presidential election was unfair they cheated in election and there was a huge demonstration against ahmadi nezhad yesterday and a group we call them basij used violance against this protest.
June 15th, 10:41 pm
Jack my brother
I voted in Emeryville CA, the only place to vote in northern Cali.
I was told to write Mousavi and his code number on the ballot.
I was shown a poster on the wall by one of the men standing there with the number 4 in front of Mousavi’s name. (the code for Mousavi wasn’t 4, it was 77 and Ahmadinejad’s code was 44). Also I was contacted by my friends who informed me that the station was out of ballots and they were sending people home around 2 pm.
After being confronted by people who wouldn’t leave they told them that more ballots will arrive at around 4 pm from on of the LA stations. That didn’t happen till a lot later in the evening.
tell our brothers and sisters in Russia to not to recognize AN as Iranian president. (AN =Ahmadinejad also an in Persian means shit)
AN is going to Russia tomorrow
All the best to you
June 15th, 5:31 pm
Hi Mr. Silverston
thanks for your support, I know it’s hard to believe that every thing that has happened here in these days. There was an election that all of us were hopefull that we can change our lifes!!!
We voted to a respectfull and honest man, who is still is fighting for us. But the leader of Iran changed the results az they wish. Now the most of people even those who didn’t vote are so concerned angry of this electoral fraud and are protesting this outcome.
In the street are some soldeirs who are armed and try to send people home, and calm the situation and continue the false goverment that only 20% of Iranian has chosen him, not us.
Also we have lost of problems with the network, some mobiles are cut, all SMS system is cut for last 4 days, most of the websites are blocked, also facebook. and internet speed is too low ..
Thanks again for all your concern.
Gratefull of your job.
June 15th, 8:58 am
Hi Jack, yes, we had a black election in Iran. The government cheated and abused us. I think, I’m sure; this is a coup against Iranian people. We are SOOOO angry. We absolutely don’t accept this mad & liar man as a president. I don’t feel secure and I afraid of future of Iran. We just try to change this situation. Iranian people just want to plea truth. We just protest logically, But the military forces attract us. They break the banks and shop glasses and light fires, and call us seditions. I wrote this thinks because I’m just worry about Iran and my family and my friends.
June 15th, 6:52 am
thank you for youre attention to condtion of iran In these days as you know ahamdi nejad cheated on ellection a big cheating that will save in history of iran we want from youre government and UN and the peoPLE of word that help us , and dont accept ahamdi nejad as peresident of iran because he is not oure choose oure choose is mir hossein moosavi and JUST MIR HOSSEIN MOOSAVI IS OURE PERESIDENT , AHMAD NEJAD IS A BIG IYER , HE IS NOT PERESIDENT OF IRAN ,IT IS A deception. PLEAS E HELP use IN THE NAME OF DEMOCRACY. we are alone..
June 15th, 6:18 am
Thanks alot. I hope to be able to help you. But I am living in Hamburg Germany. If I can help you let me know it.
I will try to find information for you. Here are some pics from the biggest online newspaper in Germany:
FROM JON LEYNE, reporting from Tehran (not sent to me, but I wanted to include it)
The security forces were staying well away – we were even able to film and usually the secret police come in straight away and stop you.
But the crowds were so enormous they were stepping back.