A candle for the heroes
Published in “Frankfurter Rundschau” on January 5 2009
Source (German): http://www.fr-online.de/frankfurt_und_hessen/nachrichten/frankfurt/2182628_Internationale-Solidaritaet-Eine-Kerze-fuer-die-Helden.html
By Stefan Behr
From a distance, it looks like a student event for Christmas : The Christmas tree at the “Römer” [the Frankfurt town hall] is lit brightly, around it have gathered about 100 people, holding candles and chanting – “Long live international solidarity”.
For those who have gathered there on this Saturday afternoon to protest against the brutal crackdown of the Iranian regime since the presidential elections, are expat Iranians living in Frankfurt and the vicinity. “A candle for the heroes of the democratic movement”, it says in the flyers, will be lit in Frankfurt, and simultaneously in Hamburg, Berlin, Cologne, Paris, London, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Rome, and Warsaw. The organizers hope that “this event, accompanied by the media coverage, can at least be a symbolic contribution to the current tense, historical situation”.
For weeks they have now been going on, these protests, that outsiders might easily mistake for spontaneous parties, were it not for the posters demanding the release of political prisoners, were it not for the cardboard plates with names of the killed, were it not for the candles forming the word “IRAN” on the ground.
The atmosphere is always peaceful. On Saturday, however, a residue of resignation seems to be in the air as well. After fifteen minutes, a demonstrator announces that the group will now move on to the Hauptwache, another location, to hold a vigil there, as usual. This is the only thing one can do, here, far away from Iran, however little it might be.
Many prefer to not say their names, and the Iranians are very cautious to not appear on photos, since almost everyone of those who gathered here have families in Iran and fear that they might be pursued on politically motivated grounds in case the regime learns about their relatives in Europe being active, and be it on a merely symbolic level.
And thus, around 6:30 p.m. all that remains in the Römerberg square are the candles, photographed by enthusiastic Japanese tourists who believe them to be Christmas candles. Would they take a closer look, they would see the names belonging to the candles. Hassan Shapouri, Kianoosh Asa, or Maryam Mehrouzin, victims who have given the protest their names.