Iranian Diaspora and the Green Wave Revival

For more than two weeks, I watched helplessly as my brothers and sisters were beaten, arrested and killed in the streets of my homeland. As we entered the third week the sudden death of Michael Jackson shifted the world's attention from Iran. The wall-to-wall international coverage ended abruptly, leaving those of us in the Iranian Diaspora feeling even more isolated and confused

I was born and educated in Tehran so I watch the events there with meticulous care. On the tenth anniversary of the violently repressed 18 Tir (July 9, 1999) pro-democracy student protesters took to the streets despite a government threat of harsh action. Thousands of riot police and Basijis massed near Tehran University where much activism, intellectual debate and revolt has erupted .Ten years ago on this day, demonstrators peacefully protested the closure of a reformist newspaper, Salam. The night of the protest, plain-cloth agents violently attacked the university's dorms, fueling rather than quelling protests. During 18 Tir , many hopeful innocent students were killed, more arrested. Some were tortured while others went missing, having been disappeared. It was the fraudulent election that ignited the people's passion and quest for democracy this time, as the Iranian people further develop their habit of peaceful revolt.

The three interlocked pieces of any successful political strategy might be stated this way: We'll need unity, a clear and understandable message, and the ability to maintain our movement's momentum.

As a member of the wide and vast Iranian diaspora, I worry about unity in that such varying attitudes exist.. Some Iranians living abroad claim to be "apolitical," saying they couldn't care less about what's going on in our homeland. In fact, these people usually just want to go back to Iran and don't want to have anything in their past to pop up to hinder them.

Some seem to long for the Shah's bygone monarchy. Some support the Mohajadin Khalgh Organization fighting to bring about a modified version of Islamic rule. Others want nothing less than a bloody revolution resulting in the overthrow of the Islamists' regime, but these most radical of revolutionaries fail to acknowledge the most obvious fact: that a violent revolution exactly mirrors the violence of its predecessor.

But most of us in the younger generation - and a full 75 percent of the Iranian population is 30 years and younger - support the non-violent Green Wave, who also believe the Islamic Republic cannot be reformed. This group understands that bringing real democracy and freedom to Iran will take a long time. We are willing to become organized, which will enable a viable, united oppositional force to emerge.

Many of us supported Mehdi Karoubi, who ran an advanced and enlightened campaign, advocating not only for women's rights, but for civil rights for all political and ethnic minorities. Mr. Karoubi actively pushed for the presence of women in government, citing the Iranian traditional of having women serve in high status, decision making positions. This is all the more astonishing because Karoubi is a Muslim cleric.

Many others supported Mir Hossein Mousavi who also vowed to review and reforms laws that discriminate against women and combat Iran's "enemy state" image abroad. Mr.Mousavi, an architect, could gain the trust of the Iranian youth and Iran's cultural society with his love for painting and poetry and his general support of the arts. His activist wife, Mrs. Zahra Rahnavard, educated and keen to provide social freedoms and political power to women, is someone who creates the more modern image of Iran: she was a large factor in what made Mousavi the preferred candidate of so many people.

Though neither reformist candidates was able to bring an absolute democracy to Iran in this flawed election the quest for reform is something that exists only on the radical fringes and margins has now been forever altered and changed.

Both Mr.Mousavi and Mr.Karoubi support the right of all the people of Iran to vote by condemning the election and calling Ahmadinejad's government illegitimate. The future of the Green Movement lies in the hands of Iranian people both inside our country and abroad.

I am a child of Iran and will always be and can state this without hesitation: the lovers of liberty in my homeland will continue their quest for freedom whether the world is watching or not.