Photo credits: Etelaate newspaper (1979), Green movement (2009)
In 2009, many Iranians overseas watched with helplessness as their fellow citizens risked everything by openly demonstrating against the regime. We also watched how the Green leaders on the ground were eliminated one by one, leaving the remainder of the movement leaderless and at the mercy of the regime secuirty forces.
In 2009, it became obvious that the regime was monitoring Facebook, twitter and SMS, and yet the leaderless movement kept using these media outlets to plan their demonstrations and announce the routes and times. Even though most Iranians couldn't have access to uncensored satellite television and Internet, there was no effort to evolve the communication system of the revolution to include more generic media, not subject to wholesale censorship, like spreading the word through the use of old fashioned DVDs. We should remember that in 1979 Khomeini taped his speeches on cassettes which were then mass distributed in Iran, because he had no access to TV and radio inside Iran.
In 2009, the Iranian regime took videos and pictures of demonstrators and tracked them down one by one, days and weeks later, yet demonstrators kept coming out during daylight and kept getting their pictures taken by the regime. This futile effort continued until enough people were tracked down and arrested.
In 2009, students, the intellectual elite, and the affluent kept on demonstrating on working days, and in doing so missing the presence of the working class, many of whom couldn't afford to miss work to demonstrate, yet the green leaders didn't wise up or evolve their strategy to focus their demonstrations on weekends.
So as we watch yet another round of leaderless semi-spontaneous demonstrations in 2012, one could be forgiven to wonder why nobody seems to have learned the lessons of 2009 or even 1979 revolution.
-Why are the demonstrations are still occuring during daytime, and not at night when the regime cameras and surveillance is less effective?
-Why are the demonstrations being held on a weekday, and not on a Thursday night (the equivalent of Friday night in the west) so that they would attract the working poor and middle class, in addition to the intellectual elites?
-Why risk death to simply shout obscure slogans?
If the people are going to risk death to challenge the regime they might as well say "مرگ بر خامنه ای" or ask for regime change, instead of beating around the bush.
If the "dollar revolution" folks figure these first steps out, they might potentially move on to figuring out ways to deal with the mounted police on bikes, who were highly effective in crowd control despite Tehran's heavy traffic. Without the constant evolution of revolutionary methods there can be no successful revolution in Iran.
With a little thought, many more challenges might become history, if only the new revolutionaries would LEARN from history.
Photo credit: 1979 unknow (mixed dress code women protesting), 2009 Green movement (women protesting, and NAJA in action)