Thursday, June 25, 2009
THE TYRANT SYNDROME **updated**
t's an evident truism that governments which are operated under the framework of immoral tyranny tend to act alike. Brook no dissent, counter it with brutality, lie about everything — that sort of thing.
The photo shown here was taken on July 19, 2005 in Mashad, Iran. It shows Mahmoud Asgari and Ayaz Marhoni, aged 14 and 16 at the time of their "offences" (homosexuality), preparing for Islamic Revolutionary justice. Dinnerjacket's statement was made a couple of years later, in an address at Columbia University. I've written about this previously.
Over the past week and a half, I've been amazed at the familiarity of some of the measures taken by Iran's security forces. Seizing dead bodies and live injured out of hospitals to be carted off to unknown destinations. Refusing to hand over remains to families and disposing of the bodies in secret burials. Ramping up expeditious special courts to deal with the hundreds (or thousands?) of detained dissidents. Persecuting the relatives of those killed, injured or arrested.
They are charging the families for the cost (highly inflated) of the bullet used to kill their loved ones. Detainees are paraded in public, and some are coerced to issue ludicrous public confessions blaming outsiders. The regime launches pathetic, unhinged accusations against foreign scapegoats.
Is any of this sounding creepily familiar? Just change "secret burials" to "secret cremations" and you'll get it.
I've spent most of the past year and a half focusing mainly on the Tibetans' struggle with Communist Chinese rule, and these are all very, very familiar. (If I've left some out, additions are welcome in comments.) At least the CCP doesn't execute teenagers just for being gay, so that's something.
Special courts will "teach protesters a lesson," and a few who "learned" their lesson early have been appearing on state-run television with their "confessions":
"I think we were provoked by networks like the BBC and the VOA (Voice of America) to take such immoral actions," one young man said. His face was shown but his name not given.Neda Agha Soltan was perhaps the first named martyr of this freedom struggle and became its icon, but there are untold numbers of Nedas across Iran. Kaveh Alipour, 19, was one of them. He was returning home from a class on Saturday, and was to be married in a week.
A woman whose face was pixilated said she had carried a "war grenade" in her hand-bag. "I was influenced by VOA Persian and the BBC because they were saying that security forces were behind most of the clashes.
"I saw that it was us protesting ... who were making riots. We set on fire public property, we threw stones ... we attacked people's cars and we broke windows of people's houses."
At the crack of dawn, his father began searching at police stations, then hospitals and then the morgue.Mr. Alipour didn't have that kind of money, for those highly expensive bullets. He was eventually able to take his son's body on condition it was immediately taken out of Tehran for burial. Other families don't know where their loved ones are buried.
Upon learning of his son's death, the elder Mr. Alipour was told the family had to pay an equivalent of $3,000 as a "bullet fee"—a fee for the bullet used by security forces—before taking the body back, relatives said.
The authorities have persecuted the family of Neda Agha Soltan right out of their home, after forbidding them from conducting normal grieving rituals. Regime media have also accused the expelled BBC journalist, John Leyne, of having paid for her assassination in order to make a documentary film.
Neighbours said that her family no longer lives in the four-floor apartment building on Meshkini Street, in eastern Tehran, having been forced to move since she was killed. The police did not hand the body back to her family, her funeral was cancelled, she was buried without letting her family know and the government banned mourning ceremonies at mosques, the neighbours said.The family's former neighbours continue to live in fear.
"We just know that they [the family] were forced to leave their flat," a neighbour said.
Remember the doctor who struggled alongside Neda's music teacher on Saturday, trying so very hard to save her life? His friend, author Paulo Coelho, has just published their email correspondence beginning the day after Neda's death. After getting his wife and son out of the country, the doctor fled to London on Wednesday. In which other countries must a doctor fear for his and his family's safety because he tried to save a life?
*UPDATE*: (26/06/09: 1100) Dr. Arash Hejazi gives an interview to the BBC, in which he explains why he is going public about Neda's death despite the jeopardy it places him in. "Because of the innocent look in her eyes" when she died, he says. He also describes that the crowd actually nabbed the shooter, a Basij member, who cried to them that, "I didn't want to kill her." His identity cards were taken from him, bystanders took his photograph, and he was released. The interview is 19 minutes (video at the link), a riveting conversation with this very fine man. [end of update]
Some former apologists of the regime have been mugged by reality. It's the NYTimes' Roger Cohen vs. the NYTimes' Roger Cohen — separated by less than four months. Remarkable. Faster please!
The previously planned July Fourth parties with diplomatic agents of the murderous thugocracy will have to go ahead without their presence, which one would have thought would be as unwelcome as fire ants at the picnics. After almost two weeks of this — the evident election fraud, a massive and peaceful popular uprising, and the hellishly barbaric crackdown — they've finally been disinvited by the White House. Weanie diplomacy is taken off the grill, and somebody else will have to bring the potato salad.
[In case anyone using RSS or other website feeds of this site hasn't noticed (and these feeds often don't pick up on article changes), the previous couple of posts have been updated since they were published. Last night's was updated three times. Please have a look.]