By Nazila Fathi
Shorenstein Center Fellow, Spring 2012
Formerly, The New York Times
On June 13, 2009, Iran plunged into six months of chaos, after official results granted a second term to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The majority of people believed that he rigged the elections amidst a strong anti-incumbent mood. His main rival, Mir-Hossein Mousavi, immediately claimed that he was the legitimate winner of the election and denounced the results as fraudulent, announcing that his representatives at the polls had witnessed numerous irregularities.
Another pro-reform candidate, Mehdi Karroubi, a former speaker of Parliament, backed Mousavi and demanded election results be nullified. They believed that the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the Revolutionary Guards, the armed forces founded in 1979 to protect the regime, had backed Ahmadinejad to steal the elections. Many referred to it as a coup d’état that paved the ground for the rule of the military—the Revolutionary Guards.
The Green Movement, a newly formed group that had supported Mousavi during his campaign, began staging anti-government protests. It galvanized hundreds of thousands of people in peaceful rallies around the country demanding new elections. The regime used its loyal forces, including the Basij, the state-sponsored militia, to crush the demonstrations.
This paper looks at how the Green Movement, which became an umbrella for various forces who opposed the regime, managed to stage massive demonstrations. What techniques did it use under the repressive environment that the regime had created? What was the movement’s intention? And, finally what did it achieve?
This paper resulted in the book The Lonely War: One Woman’s Account of the Struggle for Modern Iran.