The Green Movement and Nonviolent Struggle in Iran

ImagesRamin Jahanbegloo in Eurozine:

It has been three years since the Iranian Spring, yet its aftershocks are still strongly reverberating in Iran and in the world. With hindsight, the Iranian civic movement of June 2009 stands out as a pivotal moment in modern Iranian history. What started as an uprising against the rigged presidential elections and the re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad turned into a mass struggle for civil liberties and the removal of the theocratic regime in Iran. The demonstrations were not simply a reaction to the unfair election but were based on years of built up frustration, dissatisfaction and anger at the repressive rule of the Islamic Republic. As a young, nonviolent and civil movement for change within Iranian society, the Green Movement was an historic battle for the establishment of an accountable and lawful government. As the movement developed, it became increasingly clear that the fraudulent elections had given the Iranian people an opportunity not only to defend what few democratic rights they had, but also to attempt to lay the new foundations for a truly democratic Iran. The more the Green Movement grew and gained momentum, the closer the Islamic Republic seemed to crumbling and coming to an abrupt end.

It is important to highlight that the Green Movement, specifically with regard to its democratic beliefs, did not suddenly materialize in the aftermath of the fraudulent elections. Over the past 20 years Iran has been going through a major political and societal evolution, as its increasingly young population became more educated, secular and liberal. This generational gap has divided Iranian society between essentially conservative and reformist groups and brought liberal ideals to the forefront of political discussions. The Green Movement was arguably a manifestation of the changing political, social and cultural attitudes that have been slowly emerging among Iran's intellectuals, students, women activists and its young population generally.