We are very nearly at the first anniversary of the great Iranian electoral hopes and hoax of June 12, 2009. While Iran has changed dramatically in that period of time, many analysts have reverted to form, arguing that the regime has learned how to dominate the monster protests by combining terror against dissidents, propaganda and disinformation against the Green leaders, and subversion of the “social networks” that, for a while, enabled the opposition to coordinate protests in many different cities. And yet, it is quite obvious that the regime is very frightened of the Iranian people. We saw proof of that from the most reliable source: the behavior of the tyrannical regime.
It’s unusual that the cadaver of an old woman could cause a regime to beat up her mourners, but that’s exactly what happened at the funeral ceremony of the widow of Ayatollah Montazeri in late March. In fact, regime thugs not only attacked friends, family, and supporters, but actually snatched the body and buried it in an undisclosed location. If that’s not panic, I don’t know what is. A few weeks later a prison in the capital of Luristan was attacked with explosives, enabling at least two prisoners to escape, and killing 16 security officers, including three revolutionary guards doing their military service.
May Day is not a popular holiday among the tyrants of Iran. Why should it be? Although both workers and teachers have days devoted to them, the 1979 revolution was not supposed to create a workers’ paradise (although “social justice” was one of its themes), but rather the absolute rule of Islamic wise men. And the men who have ruled the Islamic Republic of Iran have not been generous to the working class. Estimates of the real unemployment run as high as 50%. Salaries often remain unpaid for a year and more. Independent workers organizations are forbidden, and the labor leaders who have dared to speak out on behalf of their rank and file have typically been beaten up, incarcerated, and brutally tortured.
It was therefore quite logical for the supreme leader and his cohorts to fill the streets of Iran’s major cities with thousands of security forces on the 1st of May, and to summarily arrest key labor leaders. They didn’t want to see a spontaneous demonstration of Iranian workers’ true feelings about the regime. Those feelings have to be very negative.
Interestingly enough, the security forces were deployed in large numbers even though there had been no calls for a mass demonstration. To be sure, the two most prominent leaders of the Green movement — Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi — had issued strong statements supporting workers and teachers, and expressing solidarity with them. But the Green leaders did not think it would be very smart to call their people into the streets; there was no point in subjecting Iranian dissidents to more savagery at the hands of the Revolutionary Guards and the Basij until and unless it was time for the final push.