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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The retweet seen round the world, the shocking death of Neda

Neda In the past few weeks there have been two revolutions going on, both with profound implications for the future of our global society.  The first has been the large and sustained democratic protests in Iran in response to the sham election results that had the unpopular incumbent president scoring an extremely improbable 2 to 1 victory over a rival that had been surging ahead in election polls in the final days of the campaign.

The second revolution has been that of social media sites such as Facebook, Youtube and Twitter that have been able to keep the increasingly tragic news events in Iran reaching the outside world.  Thanks to these sites, as well as the now ubiquitous cell phone camera, the outside world is able to bear witness as the Iranian autocrats shed any pretense of decency and assault and murder their own citizens.

In what has been dubbed the retweet (RT) seen around the world the shocking murder of Neda Agha-Soltan, has generated worldwide anger and contempt for the theocratic thugs who are in charge of Iran.  Neda who was a young philosophy student at the University of Tehran was shot in the back.  The shocking images of her death posted on Youtube and linked to on twitter have galvanized and united the civilized world in a way not seen since September 11, 2001.

In a speech given on June 23rd, US President Barack Obama called the video of Neda’s murder “heartbreaking” and said it made clear the violence against the protesters was “fundamentally unjust.”

President Obama then went on to state that, “In 2009, no iron fist is strong enough to shut off the world from bearing witness to the peaceful pursuit of justice.”  In this regard Obama was not referring to the mainstream media outlets whose reporters in Iran have been arrested, intimidated, or ordered to leave the country.  The President was instead referring to those brave Iranian citizens who were continuing to video with their cell phone cameras the brutal crackdown by Iranian police on peaceful protestors, Twitter the location of upcoming rallies and get their videos and comments posted onto the worldwide web through a variety of proxy sites.

The brave efforts of these democratic protestors are all the more impressive given the increasingly desperate measures the Iranian government is enacting to try and prevent the world from seeing these images.  Thus the sudden importance of Twitter – which cancelled a scheduled shut down of its site for routine maintenance in response to an urgent request from the U.S State Department.

Technology,  once the feared ally of despotic communist and fascist regimes, has now advanced to the point where it is now the ally of democratic citizenry the world over. Whether it is four RCMP officers Tasering a man to death in a Vancouver airport or a young women shot to death by police in the streets of Tehran, the age old police policy of lie and deny is no longer working because people around the world will be watching, tweeting and posting.

Posted by Mike Geoghegan on June 24, 2009 in International Affairs | Permalink


The mullahs have committed the supreme folly of giving the movement a martyr. The ironic thing is that she was not part of the movement at all, but merely happened to be on the same street. There'll be no graceful exit for the Revolutionary Guard this time. Any move they make can only enmesh them further.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-06-24 6:19:34 AM

The vote stands in Iran, declares leader. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei says he won't bow to pressure. Meanwhile, state-backed media denounce the West and the crackdown on Mousavi supporters continues... http://personafile.com/PXvj

Posted by: Information Desk | 2009-06-24 9:19:43 AM

...And the Iranians can add this to the list of reasons their country is an international pariah. Eventually they're going to get sick of it, and toss out these douchebags. It's just a question of how much more they can stand before they do it.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-06-24 11:48:57 AM

Shane- How are we supposed to tell the good guys from the bad guys? I remember the "demonstrations" from 30 years ago. They don't look that much different. The people getting killed are caught up in something they probably don't even understand.

The US has always been quick to choose sides on idealogical issues. Their track record on picking the correct side is not spectacular. I think Obama is holding off, out of respect for his mentor, Jimmy Carter. He'll probably get taken down, like his mentor, over an Iranian crisis.

Posted by: dp | 2009-06-24 12:40:58 PM

When it comes to Iran, dp, the United States has usually picked the most decent side, if not the winningest side. The Iranians probably don't have any great thirst for democracy as we understand it, any more than the Iraqis did. But it's a safe bet they're tired of being ruled by a cabal of fanatics.

This isn't our fight, and the smart move would be to play it in such a way that it will be possible to establish relations with whoever wins. Yes, that would be the smart move. The noblest move? Probably not.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-06-24 1:51:06 PM

Excellent point dp. It stinks of the CIA/MI6.

Posted by: DJ | 2009-06-24 2:01:28 PM

I can't believe you're comparing the Derzinski incident with what's been going on in Iran. What is this, Daily KOS all of a sudden?

One was a mistake, an accident. The other - Iran - is cold blooded repression. Will the Mullahs ever be held accountable for their actions and the death of Neda like the Mounties were? Unlikely.

Thank goodness that libertarianism is such a weak idea.

Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 2009-06-24 2:29:37 PM

zeb- I agree that comparing the two incidents is ridiculous, but the poster makes a living working for offended groups, who feel the authorities are working against them.

Posted by: dp | 2009-06-24 2:42:17 PM

dp: well he's doing a bad job - reaching to the absurd.

Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 2009-06-24 2:53:50 PM

Love the debate! I will be on CTV news channel at around 5pm PST talking about Bill C-15 thanks for your comments and thoughts.

I have never thought of any of my corporate clients as being "offended groups" except perhaps when dealing with the odd misguided bureaucrat.

Posted by: Mike Geoghegan | 2009-06-24 3:33:29 PM

Gee, what tough guys we are? We see people being massacred in Iran but most of us will do nothing to help the freedom movement. What good is looking at the slaughter if we are not motivated to help(smuggle arms to the uprising, have messages of support for the people from Canada and countries other than the U.S. broadcast into Iran over the radio, internet, or somehow through American spy satellites). To just sit back and watch people get massacred on youtube is a little sickening. It makes me question if such individuals have a perverted interest in peoples suffering.

Posted by: Dan | 2009-06-24 3:53:46 PM

Hundreds of thousands of women are being raped in the DRC. No one even mentions it. Your point?

Posted by: DJ | 2009-06-24 4:03:28 PM

Shane- How are we supposed to tell the good guys from the bad guys?

The bad guys have guns. (Lets never let ourselves be disarmed) It is sad for sure. It won't last long though. Either the uprising will be quelled, it will be a success, or the UN will go in.

Posted by: The original JC | 2009-06-24 4:57:38 PM

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