Iran: New ways of protesting are keeping Iran’s streets quiet

2010/04/20

Published in Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter on 20. April 2010
Source (Swedish): http://www.dn.se/nyheter/varlden/nya-satt-att-protestera-ger-lugn-pa-irans-gator-1.1080763
English translation kindly provided by Anusche Noring of Iran Elections News on Facebook

Written by Nathalie Besèr, Dagens Nyheter correspondent

On the surface, everything seems quiet, but underneath, Iran is boiling with anger. The mass protests against the regime have taken on a new form.

Tehran, June 2009. Today, the fiercest protests have been stifled and the Green movement appears crushed – or maybe a new phase could be lying ahead.

Instead of violent clashes on the streets of Tehran, protests are now taking place in everyday Iranian life.

“What we are now doing to show our protest is to refuse to pay our water and electricity bills. Many people are calling in sick and are not showing up at work. This is our new way of protesting”, says 24-year-old Mitra speaking on the phone with “Dagens Nyheter”.

She belongs to a group of students who have organised many of the protests that have taken place in the past few months. According to her, young people are now dying their hair blond, and women have been taking off their headscarves to express their dissent.

“We arrange parties in the evenings and meet to devise our strategies. The Green movement is there under the surface and seething. We are just embarking on a different phase right now”, says Mitra.

At the same time, the regime is tightening the noose on the leaders of the opposition, Mousavi, Khatami and Karroubi. According to Hamid Rasaii, a member of the Iranian parliament, 150 MPs have signed a petition to protest against the three opposition leaders, and a travel ban has meanwhile been imposed on them.

Parisa is 22 years old, and she too participates in the protest movement. She tells us that inflation in the Iranian capital is soaring.

“Life has become so expensive. Bread, milk and cheese – everything is expensive, and few people have real jobs to go to. This makes people hate the regime even more”, she says.

She also describes her fear that some of her friends could have been killed by the regime.

“Two of my friends, Maryam Vakili and Shabnam Asadi, have disappeared since the Ashura protests in December. I am afraid that they might have been tortured, raped and then killed. Each day, I go to Evin prison to look for them.

Both Parisa and Mitra are convinced that the protest movement will flare up again.

“We are only waiting for something new to happen. This could be the local elections, which are due to be held soon. Once that happens, all hell will be let loose again”, Mitra says.

Hundreds of thousands of people protested on the streets of Tehran after the election.

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