It’s all but over. To virtually no one’s surprise, the Iran Government’s pervasive brutality has effectively silenced the demonstrations and the opposition against Iran’s stolen election. Iran has begun to move off the front pages. And it appears that the government’s violence has forced the democracy movement off the streets and into a pained and fearful silence. The media reports are a cause not for surprise but for sadness.
The New York Times sifts the ashes of the Iranian resistance:
The direct confrontation over Iran’s presidential election was effectively silenced Friday when the main opposition leader said he would seek permits for any future protests, an influential cleric suggested that leaders of the demonstrations could be executed, and the council responsible for validating the election repeated its declaration that there were no major irregularities.
Rather than address the underlying issues that led to the most sustained, unexpected challenge to the leadership since the 1979 revolution, the government pressed its effort to recast the entire conflict not as an internal dispute that brought millions of Iranians into the streets, but as one between Iran and outside agents from Europe, the United States and even Saudi Arabia.
It was a narrative that spoke both to the leadership’s belief that it had beaten back the popular outburst, and to the fragility of the calm. “There has been too much violence to forget about it,” said an expatriate Iranian analyst who is not being identified because he has relatives in Iran and is afraid of reprisals against them.
According to CNN, the the Iranian Government’s violence and threats of execution have stifled the demonstrations. And the Government persists in its groundless claims that outsiders caused the demonstrations, and that demonstrators were responsible for the death of Neda Agha-Soltan:
Two weeks into turmoil, Iran’s leaders turned up the heat Friday as a high-ranking cleric warned protesters that they would be punished “firmly” and shown no mercy. Ayatollah Ahmed Khatami says rioters in Iran will be “firmly” dealt with if they continue to protest.
“Rioters and those who mastermind the unrest must know the Iranian nation will not give in to pressure and accept the nullification of the election results,” said Ayatollah Ahmed Khatami during Friday prayers in Tehran, according to Iran’s state-run Press TV.
“I ask the Judiciary to firmly deal with these people and set an example for everyone,” Khatami said.
Khatami also blamed demonstrators for the death of Neda Agha-Soltan, the young woman who emerged as a powerful symbol of opposition after her death a week ago was captured on a cell phone video. Khatami said the foreign media had used Neda for propaganda purposes.
Khatami’s assertions will go unchallenged for now. Meanwhile, dozens of journalists who were trying to report the story and between 20 and 25 employees of a Mousavi organized newspaper remain in detention. Amnesty International noted that these were “at risk of torture in detention.” Put simply, the democracy movement will now recede. The demonstrations will cease.
Is there still fire beneath these ashes? The BBC reported on Friday:
In the centre of Tehran there are many fewer security forces on the streets. A stadium where Basij militia – an arm of the Revolutionary Guard – were based is now being used for sport again.
But the power of the regime is not far from the surface. On the main avenues black cars with the words special police painted on them move steadily through the traffic, each one containing four or five men in camouflage uniforms.
It has been much quieter these last few days. One elderly witness said she felt it was the calm of the grave. …
When you ask Iranians about the way this might go, a phrase keeps cropping up. They say it might seem quiet to an outsider, but there is fire below the ashes.
cross posted from The Dream Antilles