Monday, March 22, 2010

Tears, determination, and joy greet new year...

Iranians around the world celebrated Now Rouz, new year's day, at 5:32 PM GMT on Saturday, March 20, 2010, which coincides with the spring equinox. The hour, minutes, and seconds (and sometimes even the day) vary every year. The lead-up to this moment -- tahvileh sal -- is similar to the countdown to midnight on December 31.

  • The people of the southwestern city of Shiraz gathered at the shrine of beloved 14th-Century poet Hafez to call in the new year. 'Iranians would rather die than bear humiliation,' the crowd chanted, repeating a slogan of the post-election protests. Minutes later, they shouted, 'Ya Hossein, Mir Hossein,' referring to opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi.

    Elsewhere in the city, cars were packed bumper to bumper, their horns honking, as their passengers shouted, 'Ya Hossein, Mir Hossein!'

  • The last Thursday of the year, as I mentioned in a previous post, is a day of remembrance for loved ones who have passed away. In the following poignant footage taken at Tehran's Behesht Zahra cemetery last Thursday, Hajjar Rostami Motlagh, the mother of Neda Agha Soltan, weeps at the grave of her daughter who was killed by security forces at the age of 27 on June 20, 2009. 'My dear Neda,' she wails. 'Who can I talk to about the pain in my heart?'

  • Cries of 'Allah Akbar' and 'Death to the dictator' from the rooftops of Tehran blanketed the city seconds after the spring equinox. Pietro Masturzo's almost operatic photo (right) of this form of protest, which has become a mainstay of the green movement, won the World Press Photo award this year.

    And a bit off-key, but on cue with its message, a new song on the rooftops: 'The darkness will go away, if we stand alongside one another...'

  • Roger_S has put together an interesting review of the year using hot-links from Balatarin:

    And in another review of the year, this time much more visual, an unknown artist has put together what he/she calls a 'Requiem for a vote:'

  • 'Death to the dictator' at the Konig Pilsener Arena in the western German city of Oberhausen... 11,000 spectators attended a Now Rouz concert featuring Siavash Ghomeishi, Sepideh and others on Saturday night. 'This next song is for those who have sacrificed their lives for you and me,' said singer Afshin, before crying out, 'Death to the dictator!'

  • Meanwhile a group of protesters disrupted the preparations for the Islamic Republic Embassy's Now Rouz party in Oslo. They placed pictures of martyrs and prisoners on the traditional haft sin spread and unraveled a green banner. The police timidly escorted them off the premises, but not before they had the chance to voice their misgivings about the 'traitors' celebration.' 'May this haft sin be smashed on your head,' one woman told an embassy employee.

Donations for Iranian journalists in exile

Dear friends, as the new Iranian year begins, perhaps you can show some generosity towards journalists who have had to escape Iran and are now living in exile under difficult conditions. 

This campaign has been organized by the Balatarin community, but all proceeds are directly donated to the internationally-acclaimed NGO Reporters Without Borders. The goal is to obtain $15,000 by tomorrow, Tuesday, 23 March 2010. The total amount of funds raised thus far is just over $9,000.

You can donate through the link below or you can go to the Farsi page of Reporters Without Borders.

To publicize this campaign on your own blogs and web sites, simply click on the 'copy' tab in the box below and paste the html code on your site.