Something we can do to help our Iranian friends

The situation in Iran is very bad. At the end of last week, it looked like the support for Mousavi might have been strong enough to get rid of Ahmadinejad, but it seems that the election might have been rigged. Our media reported seven people killed and more injured yesterday at a demonstrations. Avaaz.org is trying to mobilise help.

Iran is on a knife-edge, with millions of voters taking to the streets in outrage as evidence mounts that the government may have massively rigged and stolen Thursday’s election. The regime has cracked down brutally on the protesters and is imposing a blackout on Iranian society — shutting down domestic and international media, the internet and even text-messaging.

The voice of Iranians may have been silenced at the polling booth, now the regime is attempting to silence them everywhere else. Facing beatings and gunfire, the opposition is organising mass demonstrations and a general strike. We can’t afford to let the regime dismiss the voice of the people — the truth must be heard.

Avaaz is urgently organising a rigorous “exit poll” of Iranian voters and a media effort to publicise it — working with an international polling firm to do a telephone survey of Iranian citizens to ask how they voted. We urgently need 10,000 Avaaz members to pitch in a small amount each to raise $119,000 in the next 24 hours and give Iranians a powerful new way to be heard — follow this link to view video from the streets of Tehran and support this exit poll to find out the truth:

https://secure.avaaz.org/en/iran_vote_truth/

Public polling in Iran is heavily restricted, and no-one else is mobilizing fast enough to fund an international exit poll. It’s urgent that we pitch in. A telephone poll won’t be 100% accurate, but the difference between opposition and government claims is massive — a rigorous poll can show which claim is remotely near the truth.

Unlike Western organizations, Avaaz’s global network has a strong membership in Iran and across the Middle East. Backed by a respected polling firm, our effort will be harder to dismiss by Iranian conservatives. We’ll send the poll results to the media and help our members in Iran to rapidly and virally spread the news despite the regime’s blackout.

Messages have been flooding in from our Iranian members — from Fariba: “20.000.000 people have lost their votes for peace and human rights. The government wants to use this votes for every thing but PEACE. Avaaz is a Persian word too and means voice — hear our ‘avaaz’”. From Mahmoud: “The government has stolen the vote the people. The people in the street are beaten badly by the police. Now now now do not lose the time”. Stand with Iranians now and help their voices be heard:

https://secure.avaaz.org/en/iran_vote_truth/

This election matters to us all. Iran is a major regional power, and the international community is seeking diplomatic engagement that holds a key to peace in the Middle East. But hawks and extremists on all sides want war instead: a conservative coup in Iran could destroy all our hopes.

The conservative Guardian Council, headed by a key Ahmadinejad ally, is reviewing the vote over the next 9 days — our poll can be ready before they give their verdict, to counter any further rigging and the violent purge that could follow.

There is a real possibility that democracy will prevail. Ultimate power in Iran lies with Ayatollah Khamenei, who may have backed the rigging — but he is hired and fired by the Assembly of Experts, chaired by ex-President Rafsanjani who has condemned vote-fixing. If Rafsanjani and allies can get enough votes on the Assembly this week, they can press to re-open the results, even to remove Khamenei from power. A scientific opinion poll could be a powerful piece of evidence.

In the next 72 hours, the Iranian people will try once again to be heard. Let’s help make sure their voices are not silenced — follow this link to see their courage and donate now to help fund the exit poll:

https://secure.avaaz.org/en/iran_vote_truth/

There are some good media sources: CNN Iran election special, Al Jazeera http://www.aljazeera.net/ or Al Jazeera English version, BBC Middle East page, The Guardian and The Times Online. Robert Fisk has an interesting account of a confrontation between pro- and anti-government demonstrations. It seems the Iranian special forces police kept the peace between the two groups, and the demonstrators had more to fear from the Basiji, who Fisk described as “Islamic Republic’s thug-like militia”.

There also a good post at http://mashable.com/2009/06/14/new-media-iran/ on how to use social media to track events.

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