Filed under: Political | Tags: election, fraud, Iran, Politics, protest, Twitter, Vancouver
I was walking home from work tonight when I literally walked into nearly 500 people were gathered in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery, holding candles, dressed in black and waving peace signs over their heads. I had unknowingly stumbled into a silent protest organized by University of British Columbia students, in response to the Iranian election results and the violent uprising that has killed at least seven people and injured hundreds more since Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was named president.
The crowd, made up of mostly Iranian members of the community, was part two of a seven-day-long protest planned to take place every night from 9:30 to 10:30 leading up to the final event scheduled to take place on Sunday. Organizers of the event planed the gathering to coordinate with a global silent protest similar to events scheduled in various cities including Toronto, New York City, and San Francisco.
After my initial surprise, I took some time to talk to some of the participants. Tarjee is a Canadian citizen who grew up in Tehran but moved to Vancouver nearly 8 years ago. She completed her undergraduate degree in Tehran and was heartbroken to watch the violent attacks on the University students living at the same university she attended.
“It’s been so hard for me every day. Every day I go to my lab and work like nothing happened. Some of my co-workers don’t pay attention to the news and we don’t talk about it. Every day I want to scream and fight but I don’t. I walked those streets, I went to that University, I’ve seen those rooms.”
The first thing she asked me when we began talking, was if I had seen the Youtube videos. She was referring to the hundreds of the video clips that have been uploaded to the free streaming site since the violence in Iran broke out seven days ago. Since all foreign press have been blocked from making any kind of reports on the current situation, citizens have taken it upon themselves to provide the rest of the world with an accurate account of what is happening. Despite the Iranian government’s attempt to silence the news, thousands of first hand accounts have made their way around to media outlets thanks to twitter updates, yotube videos and blog posts.
I asked Tarjee if she was attending the event tonight in protest of the outcome of the elections. Like so many thousands of Iranians, Tarjee is outraged and shocked at the election results and is convinced that election fraud was the culprit that led to a 66% majority vote to re-elect Ahmadinejad.
“I don’t see how Ahmadinejad could have won. But I am here tonight to show my support of the students. Right now they feel like they are freaks all alone fighting for Iran. But they are not. We are here with them.”
Organizers are expecting more supporters to come out on the final night of the week-long protest, scheduled to take place on Sunday.
Stay tuned for more updates on protests taking place in Vancouver throughout the week.