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A Sea of Green: Violence in Iran
by Mel August 4th 2009, 09:18 AM

Article featured in Avatar - Volume 3, Issue 1 (July 2009).

A Sea of Green: Violence in Iran
By Jessie

A mix of democratic ideals
and Islamic theocracy, the structure of the Iranian government is a complex and atypical network of elected and unelected bodies. The most powerful of political offices in the Islamic Republic of Iran is that of the Supreme Leader of Iran. Second to the Supreme Leader, as defined by the Constitution, is the President of Iran. Before a candidate may run, however, he must be approved by the Council of Guardians. In the 2009 Iranian presidential election, four candidates were approved including conservative Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and reformist Mir-Hossein Mousavi.

On Friday, 12 June, 2009 Iran went to the polls for its tenth presidential election. On Saturday it was announced that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had been reelected as the President of Iran by voters of and over the age of eighteen. Later that day, opposition leader Mir-Hossein Mousavi demanded a recount.

What happened next was both unexpected and historical. On 14 June, 2009, nearly 200 people were arrested at post-election anti-Ahmadinejad protests, dubbed the “Sea of Green,” due to Mousavi’s campaign color, and the “Persian Awakening.” Other arrests have since been made, including the arrests of two Reformist politicians and numerous Britons, according to Iranian state television, as well as the reported arrests of any persons wearing green, in some instances.

Two days after the first reported arrests, on 16 June, 2009, all foreign media were officially banned from leaving their offices to report on the protests. Outrage over election results has not been confined to the streets of Iran, however, and at least fifteen governments across the globe have spoken out, condemning the harsh actions taken by government officials against citizens and expressing concern regarding allegations of electoral fraud. Also noteworthy is the continued use of social networking websites including Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and blogs. These websites have not only allowed for communication among protesters, including the organization of rallies and transmission of photographs, videos, and written accounts of what would otherwise be unconfirmed reports, but have also enabled major news sources, like CNN and BBC News, to report on these events.

Just seven days after the election results were announced CNN reported 150 unconfirmed deaths. To date, twenty-eight protest related deaths have been confirmed. The most memorable casualty thus far was, arguably, the death of Neda Agha-Soltan. The twenty-six year old woman’s death by gunfire was caught on video by bystanders and aired over the Internet; her last moments, broadcast internationally on television and online, became an instant media sensation and Agha-Soltan was quickly hailed a martyr.

Unfortunately, the unrest in Iran is not yet over. Despite calls by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to cease protest, supporters of Mousavi seem unwilling and unprepared to relinquish hope that the 24 June decision to uphold election results will be overturned. Only the coming months will tell.

Last edited by Mel; May 6th 2010 at 02:50 AM.
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