Saturday, June 20, 2009

Hafiz says

I've been following events in Tehran via Twitter and learning a lot about that networking site in the process. One of the people in Iran getting clear, consistent and insightful tweets out is a woman using the name oxfordgirl. Obviously a born leader, her tweets are a combination of advice to those on the streets and in Iran and reports to those outside. For those of you who don't use Twitter, a post is limited to 140 characters, so the messages are by definition brief.

The picture emerging from her messages and those of others is of massive police force meeting the planned protest at 4 pm, scattering protesters into side streets where fighting has occurred with rock-throwing, and protesters being badly beaten. Police have used water cannons, tear gas and something acidic sprayed from helicopters. Shots have been fired and at least one body was carried away. Moussavi has addressed the crowd saying he is prepared for martyrdom.

An estimated 2,000 people had been arrested before today. It seems this crackdown is sparking a heightened, emboldened resistance. Why am I reminded of being in Berkeley during the anti-Vietnam War protests? Excessive police force is always a poor response to protest. As Gandhi said: "First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win."

Opened the Divan of Hafiz again today - this is a tradition well-known in Iran, seeking advice from Hafiz - and this is what I first read:

Tis the ambush-place: and very swiftly thou goest. Be sensible: do not go swiftly lest from the broad king's highway, should ascend the dust of thee.

Be brave but be safe.