News Release

A Twitter Revolution?


Just back from covering the Iranian election, Erlich is available for a limited number of interviews with major media. Foreign correspondent and author of The Iran Agenda: The Real Story of U.S. Policy and the Middle East Crisis, Erlich said today: “This isn’t a ‘Twitter Revolution.’ That description trivializes the broad mass movement that has swept Iran. It is not just the affluent of northern Tehran who are protesting. It’s poorer people from southern Tehran — who organize by plain old phone calls and word of mouth.

“The movement has gone beyond protesting election fraud and now challenges the system. Some protesters want a more moderate Islamic government, others want a return to a parliamentary system that existed in the early 1950s under Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh. Mossadegh headed the last democratic government in Iran, which included freedom for political parties to organize, free press and freedom of religion. It was overthrown in a CIA coup in 1953. That’s why the government is cracking down so hard; it is threatened to its core.

“There’s a big controversy in the U.S. about President Obama’s statements on Iran. But they are largely irrelevant to the people of Iran. Given the long history of U.S. meddling in Iran, it’s best that the U.S. not further intervene and [instead] let the people of Iran deal with their own government. The U.S. has a long history of sanctions [and] supporting terrorist attacks against Iran that bolster the rightwingers in Iran. The U.S. cannot and should not try to intervene in Iran’s upheaval; anything the U.S. does would be counterproductive. It’s much more important that Iranians receive people-to-people support in the form of rallies, marches, etc. from American grassroots groups.”
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Founder of I-Witness Video, Clancy has for years documented protests in the U.S. and Northern Ireland. Clancy said today: “Protesters in Iran are managing to get some video out to the broader world that challenges the official Iranian government narrative. We’ve seen similar efforts to expose government repression using cell phone video and the Internet in several countries including Egypt, Turkey and Burma.

“While it’s fashionable right now for U.S. politicians to stick up for the peaceful protesters and citizen journalists in the streets of Iran, those sentiments ring hollow. In the U.S., protest events are typically deemed marginal events by the news media, even when extraordinary things happen there. In 2004, 1,800 people were arrested at the Republican National Convention in New York City; 90 percent had charges dismissed; the city’s legal bill to date is $8.2 million and hundreds of lawsuits are pending.

“In 2008, the Republican Convention was the most repressive I’ve ever seen in the U.S.; police were using concussion grenades. I-Witness Video members were followed by undercover police and we were raided twice, once with guns drawn. It was clear that there was an effort to disrupt people who could get video to the broader world. Local reporters were swept up and charges were later dropped. We were actually told by the police that they were tracking us in real-time using geo-location data from our cell phones. Twitter was key for us doing our work.”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167