"Our wish, our dream, our hope, was to make a change. A wish 4 brighter days, dreams of freedom & hope 4 peace."
- Iranian Student Demonstrator on Twitter, Identify Witheld for Safety Reasons
It's been 30 years of oppression, y'know, and now nobody's safe. Pedestrians are attacked. Summary execution, random arrest, robo-terror phone calls, torture dungeons, media black-out, state TV lies, paramilitary biker gangs; it's all surfacing, and it is like a nightmare."
- Rainmaker from Newsvine
It's been going on for almost two weeks now: a brutal crackdown by a dictatorial state on its citizens, in particular the students of Iran, whose age demographic comprises in excess of 60% of the country's population. The savagery started in earnest after the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, during a Friday prayer sermon, ordered his Basij irregular militia, along with police and Revolutionary Guards, to suppress the demonstrators, who were largely peaceful in their protests against what is now agreed by all - including the regime - to have been a deeply corrupt election.
Since the first days of the protest, the violence perpetrated by the authorities has steadily - unbelievably! - worsened, until today, June 24, when all-new depths of savagery were reached.
Demonstrators gathered in five squares across Tehran, coalescing in what later appeared to resemble nothing so much as a civil disobedience leg-hold trap in which struggling students, as well as children, old women and elderly men were held until they could be clubbed, stabbed and shot without mercy by paid thugs and grinning sadists whose sub-room temperature IQs were only marginally higher than their practically empty reservoirs of humanity.
In the squares of Baharestan, Vanak, Tajrish Sadeghieh, Resalat and Enghelab, the inhuman tragedy played out, hour after hour, as the world - at least that portion of it empathic enough, or perhaps voyeuristic enough, to care - watched in motionless silence. Aspiring young doctors and lawyers were beaten, children were shot, people's grandparents were crippled and maimed, and still the brutality continued with an asssembly line precision.
It was nothing short of massacre.
Bloody, cruel, heartless massacre perpetrated on the citizens they are supposed to be called upon to serve, by twisted old men clad in black who cynically refer to themselves as religious leaders. It has been said that there is a special place in hell for the Basiji. If that's true, there is surely a VIP room in Hades wherein the most ingenious of eternal torments are set aside for those who gave them their orders.
On Twitter - the sole means of communication and organization left to these demonstrators, who have been under a complete media blackout for more than a week, cut off from the outside world and from their many abducted classmates - cries of anguish surged through cyberspace, keening moans in the cathode ray tubes of an impotent world audience who could do nothing but stand by as life after life was snuffed out before them:
just in from Baharestan Sq - situation today is terrible - they beat the ppls like animals -
Basiji are fighting against harmless crowd silent protesters in baherstan sq
bastard basijis animals animals animals
"Sea of Green was at every sq, taking on the basij and being beaten until the ground covered in blood. God help Iran
'So many dead, so many disabled. Tehran is bleeding.. Smoke and fire everywhere."
"a girl was shooted in Baharestan Sq
'they dont allow people to help shooted girl!!
It Would Seem That Basij Are Ordered To Make Tonight The Bloodiest Hell Yet. I'm Hearing of Public Executions
in Baharestan we saw militia with axe choping ppl like meat - blood everywhere - like butcher - Allah Akbar -
In Lalehzar [Sq] There are people's body laying on the streets; corpses everywhere. The situation is unbearable, inconceivable
They pull away the dead into trucks - like factory - no human can do this - we beg Allah for save us
Friend just called - i heard screaming, shots, chaos & "tell the world they're massacring us. bye."
Tell the world.
How to tell the world about the agony of a people enduring torture and savagery, when you're restricted to 140 characters, peppered with txt shrthnd and abbreviations more suited to describing laughing out loud than crying tears of blood?
Yet, somehow they manage. Eloquently.
The question is, are we listening? Are we truly hearing the cries of innocents being subjected to "slow motion genocide", as Rainmaker put it? And even if we are hearing them, what are we - and our elected representatives - going to do about it?
What can we do about it?
Some of us on Newsvine have been trying to help in whatever meager way we can. Writing, helping the demonstrators to communicate, setting up proxy servers, transmitting first aid advice or information about dealing with tear gas and skin irritants. Mostly, though, we are just trying to do what we can to get word to the outside world of the price for freedom being paid by the brave people of Iran.
It's a small enough task we do from the comforts of our homes, but the toll is mounting on even those of who simply watch from afar, much less those who are faced with the truncheon by day and the abduction by night.
"How could Khameini order this? How? How? How? His own people, his brothers and sisters," Gladbutterfly said earlier today. "I hope they roast his b***s in Hell. He's a monster."
"I'm shaking, going into a panic attack" said KyanaBelle. "When does the world say "No more, M@ther F^ckers - It stops right F^cking now!" At what point does the world community become morally and ethically compelled to act?"
Newsblog903: "A part of our souls are ripped apart by this."
Briwnys: "Where is Mousavi? Where are the leaders? The finest flower of Iranian youth are dying for freedom and their leaders are silent."
Our emotions are all being stretched to the breaking point. Or are they?
I walk down the aisles in my office, and no one seems to have a clue this is going on. I try to tell people about it, and I just get blank stares. On the highways, in the supermarket, and even in other parts of Newsvine, people are going through with their lives on autopilot, while an entire generation is being tortured and murdered.
So what can we do about it?
For starters, I would say a helluva lot more than we've done until now. I am asking you now, all of you who are reading this...no, I'm begging you. If you have not been engaged in this cause before now, this is your chance to support the noble cause of freedom. This is your chance to exercise your humanity. This is your chance to do what Jesus would do.
Before it's too late.
It needn't be that much; no one is suggesting you march on the Pasdaran (although some are doing just that...) Simply take the time to initiate a dialogue. Tell five people you know about what is happening in Iran right now. Let people know that hundreds of people, young and old, male and female are dying in the streets like dogs, right now.
If you're technically inclined, join the cause by helping the demonstrators to access new proxies or to communicate with less chance of being detected and arrested. Go onto Twitter and start following the #iranelection hashtag, and you'll see opportunities to help almost immediately.
Tie a green ribbon to your car's aerial.
If you are a nurse or a paramedic or a first responder of any sort, these kids desperately need your help.
If you are a member of a union, contact your local and find out what the labour movement can do to support their international brethren in Iran.
Fly a green flag.
If you are a writer, write about this. Just get the word out.
Write to your congressman, your state senator, your Member of Parliament, your frigging dogcatcher if you think it might help.
Wear a green rubber bracelet.
Make a donation to Reporters Without Borders.
Write, i-report or Twitter CNN and demand expanded coverage. Demand that they stop using state media as a news source.
Boycott Siemens/Nokia for supplying the Iranian regime with the technology they use to track down the demonstrators who are communicating with the outside world.
Wear a green armband.
Contact the Iranian expatriate community in your city; they will be more than happy to give you ideas about what you can do to help.
Even if you can't do any of these things for one reason or another, just create a Twitter account and show your support for these valiant freedom fighters. It's a small enough sacrifice we can make - a little of our time - when these brave children are sacrificing so much.
Just don't sit there, feeling like there's nothing you can do.
Dennis P. McCann: "There is. We can continue to protect the Iranians on Twitter while spreading their message to the western media. It's our job to help them in any way we can, especially by keeping the attention of the world on the events in Iran, while not doing anything to reveal their identities."
Don't let the people of Iran die in vain.