Monday, June 22, 2009

The Voice of the Revolution

Neda Agha-Soltan was shot and killed with videos from multiple angles by the Basij in Iran. I am told that her name Neda means 'voice'. The high profile death of a beautiful woman puts a romantic face on what is seeming to be a revolution.

At this point I cannot see that things can go back to the way they were in Iran. People who don't know anything about the way Iranian politics works, which admittedly is most of us, think of Iran as being run by an invincible bloc of ruling Mullahs. I have for many years thought this not to be the case.

Books like 'Lipstick Jihad' by Azadeh Moaveni and 'Reading Lolita in Tehran' by Azar Nafisi tell the story of a soft women's revolution in Iran. You can see by Neda's makeup and her colorful headscarf and the way you can see her bangs peaking out from beneath it that this revolution has had more and more impact.

It was only a matter of time before this culture permeated the youth and a groundswell would occur. It seems like now is that time. I am very hopeful for Iran. I see Iran as a possible key to a more peaceful middle-east. Iran could be a highly successful nation. It has a very intelligent populace, with a highly skilled and educated class of people with a great diaspora flung around the world. It could easily become one of the top tier nations in this world, which is should. The great empires of the past have left levels of development that its peoples have never truly forgotten. Where there have been great and progressive empires there are smart and industrious peoples. The characters of those empires are very important to the character of the culture left behind.

In Persia there has been a great meeting point of many great cultures, and hopefully Persia can take join that nations of the world like India and China and become a stabilizing force in its region of the world. Iran has great oil reserves but poor refining technology. A more liberal Iran could see advanced technology flood into its borders so that it can get the most out of its oil fields. With that wealth they can build a more advanced technological civilization so that they need not worry about sliding backward when the oil has been sucked dry.

With the video of the death of their beautiful martyr (which I have been unable to bring myself to watch) maybe we will see something beautiful grow from the land where her blood was spilled.

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Iranian Elections and their attempt to stifle viral communication

Here are examples of how seriously governments are taking the ability for the populace to communicate with one another. What is at stake is the very ability for people to communicate with each other as they see fit. I do not see the Ayatollahs winning this one. I think that this is the catalyst for real change in Iran.

Iran Moves to end Facebook Revolution

We've had a few readers send in updates on the chaotic post-election situation in Iran. Twitter is providing better coverage than CNN at the moment. There are both tech and humanitarian angles to the story, as the two samples below illustrate. First, Hugh Pickens writes with a report from The Times (UK) that"the Iranian government is mounting a campaign to disrupt independent media organizations and Web sites that air doubts about the validity of the re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as the nation's president. Reports from Tehran say that social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter were taken down after Mr Ahmadinejad claimed victory. SMS text messaging, a preferred medium of communication for young Iranians, has also been disabled. 'The blocking of access to foreign news media has been stepped up, according to Reporters Without Borders. 'The Internet is now very slow, like the mobile phone network. YouTube and Facebook are hard to access and pro-reform sites... are completely inaccessible.'"And reader momen abdullah sends in one of the more disturbing Ask Slashdots you are likely to see."People, we need your urgent help in Iran. We are under attack by the government. They stole the election. And now are arresting everybody. They also filtered every sensitive Web page. But our problem is that they also block the SMS network and are scrambling satellite TVs. Please, can you help us to set up some sort of network using our home wireless access points? Can anybody show us a link on how to install small TV/radio stations? Any suggestion for setting up a network? Please tell us what to do or we are going to die in the a nuclear war between Iran and US."Update: 06/14 18:32 GMT by KD : Jim Cowie contributes a blog post from Renesys taking a closer look at thestate of Iranian Internet transit, as seen in the aggregated global routing tables, and concluding that the story may not be as clear-cut as has been reported.
The Computer is the Enemy

9:12 AM ET -- The computer is the enemy. We reported last night on accounts of major violence at Tehran University. The AP adds some more detail this morning:

Overnight, police and hard-line militia stormed the campus at the city's biggest university, ransacking dormitories and arresting dozens of students angry over what they say was mass election fraud.

The nighttime gathering of about 3,000 students at dormitories of Tehran University started with students chanting "Death to the dictator." But it quickly erupted into clashes as students threw rocks and Molotov cocktails at police, who fought back with tear gas and plastic bullets, a 25-year-old student who witnessed the fighting told The Associated Press. He would only give one name, Akbar, out of fears for his safety.

The students set a truck and other vehicles on fire and hurled stones and bricks at the police, he said. Hard-line militia volunteers loyal to the Revolutionary Guard stormed the dormitories, ransacking student rooms and smashing computers and furniture with axes and wooden sticks, Akbar said.

Before leaving around 4 a.m., the police took away memory cards and computer software material, Akbar said, adding that dozens of students were arrested.

He said many students suffered bruises, cuts and broken bones in the scuffling and that there was still smoldering garbage on the campus by midmorning but that the situation had calmed down.

"Many students are now leaving to go home to their families, they are scared," he said. "But others are staying. The police and militia say they will be back and arrest any students they see."

"I want to stay because they beat us and we won't retreat," he added.

Tehran University was the site of serious clashes against student-led protests in 1999 and is one of the nerve centers of the pro-reform movement.