Tuesday, June 23, 2009
If it was just a split in the ruling class, those who expected the movement to fizzle out would have been right. But so far, despite some premature indications from commentators, there is no sign that they are right. Yesterday's protests apparently spread well beyond Tehran, with this footage purportedly coming from the southern city of Kerman. Despite the ongoing violence of the state, the protesters kept coming out, in new places. Given the extreme brutality of the basiji, it is amazing that the protesters didn't just stop turning out. But it may be that the repressive strategy is blowing back on the state. For, after the murder of Neda Soltani, and the reaction against it, Mousavi seems to feel more confident to make his move. He and other 'reformers' are backing protests over this, apparently despite a government ban - quite unlike previous occasions where they have backed down and allowed protesters to brave the basij militias alone. He now says he is trying to organise a general strike, and is getting some interesting advice from people responding to his Facebook message. But if the protesters had followed his advice and stopped turning out when rallies were declared banned, he would not now be in a position to talk about a general strike. Unconfirmed reports on The Guardian have suggested that 30% of workers in Iran are already striking - which, if true, would be a phenomenal rebuke to the government, which threatened that anyone who didn't turn up for work would be fired. Try sacking 30% of the workforce.