Features

Murder + Silence + a Fart + "an Unbecoming Action"

November 21, 2019
Maziar Bahari
2 min read
Shahu Validi, killed during protests in Marivan
Shahu Validi, killed during protests in Marivan
Protests broke out in at least 100 cities across Iran
Protests broke out in at least 100 cities across Iran

“Please tell the world to pay attention to us. This regime has got away with murder several times in the past and they really think they can get away with killing thousands of people again,” said a friend in Iran during a very short conversation the other night. On the same night the main news on many news channels were US congressman Eric Swalwell farting on television and Prince Andrew calling sex-trafficking “an unbecoming action.” 

The regime is enjoying this silence and has shut down the internet since the day after the protests started. My conversations have been limited to a few minutes or even seconds with each person. We try every communications means possible to connect: landline, Skype, WhatsApp, Telegram, SMS, cell phone, etc. But so far the Iranian government has been one step ahead of us. 

The summary of our calls is this: “It’s like a military coup. People are afraid. We don’t know who we can trust. And we simply don’t know what is going on because there is no internet connection and we cannot talk to anyone else.” 

The regime seems to have been preparing for this months before announcing it was raising the price of gasoline on the night of Friday, November 15. The way they’ve blocked the internet and jammed satellite television signals and the methods the police and the Revolutionary Guards have used to arrest and murder the protesters is right out of the Syrian regime’s playbook. A book that was partially written by the Iranian regime. 

We have been lucky that several IranWire citizen journalists have been able to send us and other media outlets footage and eyewitness accounts of violent clashes whenever they have been able to. Otherwise, the world would know even less about the situation in Iran and would care even less. Amnesty International and information IranWire has collated confirm that at least 100 people have been killed across dozens of cities. Many believe the number is closer to 200. 

Tragically, the protests in Iran have rarely been mentioned by my colleagues in the international media. Maybe the number of casualties are not high enough for them or maybe they don’t have good quality footage of people who are being murdered and speak English. Whatever the reason, this silence in the media is unfathomable and unprofessional. I hope they start to cover the murder of innocent Iranians soon. Otherwise, they will have to answer to future generations for their silence... 

On a more positive note, we also have a video report about a former Iranian refugee who came to the UK and now is running for the British parliament. Kaweh Behshtizadeh arrived in the UK on the back of a truck in 2004 and couldn’t speak a word of English. He’s now a successful immigration lawyer and is a Liberal Democrat candidate in Bracknell, a constituency west of London.

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