Not Lying Down


Josh Shahryar wrestles with the retaliatory violence displayed yesterday:

For the first time in 200 days, the Iranian people decided that enough was enough. If the government was going to send goons, then they were going to deal with them the way goons are dealt with. We had seen burning homes, bleeding protesters and protesters being dragged across streets. This time around, we saw burning police cars, bleeding Basijis and riot police being dragged and beaten.

As a human rights activist and an admirer of Mahatma Gandhi, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela, I am strictly opposed to violence. What went on in Iran yesterday was anything but peaceful. Protesters fought back and they fought back hard. The level of violence against protesters may have been high, but it was answered – maybe not as violently, but clearly it was.

This prompted many of my friends and colleagues to question their support for the Green Movement. After all, we were expecting a non-violent revolution – one spurred by peaceful protests.

But let us not forget. There is a difference between unprovoked acts of violence against individuals and self-defense. Did we really expect the Iranian people to just sit back and allow the government to kill, maim and arrest people ad infinitum? What would I or you do if someone used violence against us for six months over and over and over again? Are we going to go out and present ourselves as living targets for shooting practice?

(Photo: An Iranian police officer is taken away by people after allegedly being beaten by opposition supporters during an anti-government protest in Tehran on December 27, 2009.  -/AFP/Getty Images)