Image by misterarasmus via FlickrAfter its recent election, and in the face of hundreds of thousands, possibly millions of protesters demanding an investigation into what they suspected was a fraudulent result, the Iranian government silenced foreign reporters. The government also attempted to silence individual Iranians by restricting their access to the Internet.
Many brave Iranians have found ways to get news of their protest rallies, and the violent government response, out of the country. Yesterday may have been the bloodiest day yet. Some have dubbed it Iran's Tienanmen Square. Others call it a massacre. Many Iranians posted horrific images on Twitter, YouTube and FaceBook. Reportedly, whenever they post, they risk discovery, arrest, beatings and perhaps death.
One woman somehow managed to call CNN directly and spoke live to reporter Ivan Watson. We do not learn her name, presumably because of the danger to her and her family, and it is difficult to verify her story. In the video, though, Watson indicates to her that they have received similar reports from other sources inside the country, and I have watched a slew of video clips tonight that support her allegations as well.
Here is her story, in her own words, as reported by CNN. Warning: It is a deeply disturbing account.
Update 6/25/09: Apparently the video above has been removed or disabled, at least temporarily. Another user has posted the same video here. Please let me know in the comments below if this one disappears as well. Meanwhile, I will try to learn why the video is no longer working on the original site and will update when and if I learn anything.
Anonymous, traumatized, terrified, the caller nevertheless risked her life to share what she had witnessed and to plea for help.
For refusing to be silent in the face of injustice, for standing with courage and doing what she can to help those suffering around her, for working with the resources at her disposal to bring the world a little further from the chaos of reprisal and bloodshed and a little closer to cooperation and peace, the Ordinary Heroes Award is gently offered to this unnamed Iranian woman with hope and prayers that she and the people of her country soon may live in peace and harmony.
It is also given with a desire to answer her call for help.
Because this woman, and so many other Iranians, are successful in broadcasting their stories to the world, we who read, listen and watch in horror are forced to accept once again that unmitigated cruelty exists in the world. To stand by and do nothing would be to collude with the perpetrators.
I take only one side, that of compassionate peace, and that leaves me with no clear, direct path to be of use to the caller and to the people suffering. I am mindful, though, of the powerful message of Sharon Mehdi's book, The Great Silent Grandmother Gathering. I have witnessed the miraculous results that can be found in focus and prayer, particularly when more than one person is engaged, and so I call on the grandmothers, and any who would stand with us, to stand for peace.
Stand in your churches, your homes your places of work, on your street corners and buses and playgrounds. Stand for peace. Stand with the intent that this woman's anguish be healed, her country be healed, and that the leaders of the country be healed. Now is the time.