When I initially heard about the elections in Iran and the subsequent claims of vote tampering, riots, and communication blockades, I opted not to mention it on the blog. Better people than I am are talking about it: CNET has a great article about the fumbling of the US major media outlets (particularly CNN) while all the real action was out of necessity happening over on Twitter and Facebook. The New York Times and the BBC have been posting some great information on the larger scene, providing comprehensive stories and facts on the larger aspects of the trouble in the country.
But the real action - the shutting down of bandwidth, detaining of journalists, and the massive rioting and terror were passed and transmitted underground - via whatever means were available to the people ducking in alleys and corners, away from the gas and batons. For a truly visceral, "on-the-street" look at what's happening, Andrew Sullivan over at the Atlantic has been updating constantly, showing the tweets and messages Iranians are posting in an attempt to get the word out about just how bad things have devolved since the results of the elections. Back-pedal to June 12th and read - the terror of what's going on is balanced by how incredible are the efforts of everyday normal people to get the truth out.
Normally, this isn't something I would comment on in this blog: when I'm not writing about horror novels, video games, giant robots or other geek-related pursuits, I tend to stick to more innocuous, family stuff...whatever happens to be personally affecting me at the time. But after reading the stories, it refused to go away. I know part of it is due to the straight facts of the story, the repression of speech and other basic freedoms we take for granted, the parallels (tenuous or otherwise) to what happened here in 2000 (a lot less violent, though when viewed in the long run one could and probably has argued that point as well), but there's something deeper that's catching in my gut, hooking in and refusing to come out.
I think it's a feeling of hopelessness, not for those in the country dealing head on with events, but for myself, for feeling like there's something I should do, but knowing what it is, or even where to begin to search for an answer. A lot of people are showing solidarity by using the green box image above as their profile picture on Facebook and Twitter (or, alternately, this image from The Atlantic) - when I get home tonight I'll be doing the same, but it seems woefully inadequate.
Right now I think the best thing I can do is read, learn, and pass on. Click on the links, follow your own sources, and see what's going on.
I don't have the words to impress how big I think this issue is, but they do, those who are there and those with a louder voice and a wider reach than someone like me, just sitting here frustrated and trying to learn what I can.
The start of Andrew Sullivan's coverage (starts about halfway down the screen). This is where it all is - if nothing else the photographs will tell you everything you need to know.
image taken from Andrew Sullivan and The Daily Dish @ The Atlantic