Greece: Bloggers interview Iranian protesters

With the clampdown on journalism and communications in Iran, most Greek mainstream media have resorted to conveying reports from social media, second or third-hand, through western news organizations. Some Greek bloggers have helped bridge gaps in reporting by interviewing Iranian protesters contacted on Twitter themselves, or by posting news from acquaintances in Iran and abroad.

Greek journalist and blogger Panagiotis Papachatzis published two interviews with Iranian protesters on his blog, πρόχειρο τετράδιο.

In the first interview, on Tuesday, Iranian activist and blogger Jadi commented on the role Twitter played in reporting during the first few days of the election protests, and why he has chosen to blog under his real name.

γράφω επώνυμα και αυτό το κάνω γιατί είναι πολύ σημαντικό για μένα να πω ” Είμαι αυτό το συγκεκριμένο άτομο και ζω στο Ιράν και πιστεύω στα ανθρώπινα δικαιώματα.” Αν γράφω ανώνυμα θα είναι σαν να αποδέχομαι ότι αυτό που κάνω είναι περίεργο. Δεν είμαι αντάρτης και δεν χρειάζεται να κρύβομαι. Και αν συλληφθώ…. και τι με αυτό; Χρησιμοποιώ τα βασικά μου ανθρώπινα δικαιώματα, δεν είμαι εγκληματίας. [..]Ο ψηφιακός κόσμος δεν έχει σύνορα και δεν υπάρχει διαφορά μεταξύ μας, και ας είμαι εγώ στο Ιράν και εσύ στην Ελλάδα. Τις τελευταίες μέρες μας έκοψαν όλες τις επικοινωνίες, όχι sms, όχι κινητά τηλέφωνα σε συγκεκριμένες περιοχές. Κάτω από αυτές τις συνθήκες, το γυρίσαμε στο Twitter και ευτυχώς δουλεύει.

“For me it is important to say that ‘I am this specific person, and I live in Iran, and I believe in human rights’. If I go anonymous, I have accepted that I'm doing something suspect. I'm not a guerrilla and I don't need to hide. If I get arrested … so what? I used my very basic human right, I am not a criminal. […]
The digital world is a borderless world, and there is no difference between me and you there. Additionally, we lost all means of communication recently. No SMS, no phones in some areas, and … in this situation, we switched to Twitter and it worked.

In the second interview, a 20 year-old student protester who asked to remain anonymous, talks about why he feels obliged to protest and report on what is happening in his country. He describes how protesters are facing their fears and how recent events in Iran have helped shape his dreams for the future.

Θέλω να πιστεύω ότι είναι υποχρέωση μου, εκτός από το να βγαίνω στους δρόμους και να διαδηλώνω, να ενημερώνω τον κόσμο για το τι συμβαίνει στο Ιράν.[..]
Η πρώτη μέρα ήταν δύσκολη. Ο φόβος του αγνώστου. Όσο περνάνε οι μέρες τόσο πιο γενναίοι γινόμαστε να διαδηλώνουμε. Έχουμε συνηθίσει την βία της αστυνομίας [..]. Δεν μπορούν να μας κάνουν να μην σκεφτόμαστε, να μην θέλουμε.[..]
[Πάντα ήθελα να σπουδάσω στις ΗΠΑ] Αλλά όταν είδα την κλοπή των ψήφων μας, την εξαπάτηση, είπα στον εαυτό μου ” Θα κάνω τα πάντα, για να δω ένα ελεύθερο και δημοκρατικό Ιράν, πριν φύγω”. Έτσι πια, ονειρεύομαι ένα καλύτερο μέλλον για το Ιράν.

I really think it is my obligation. I mean, besides going to the streets and protesting, it’s my obligation to let people of the world know what’s going on in Iran, because the national media in Iran is pretending that nothing has happened and everything’s OK. People would be fooled, If I didn’t tweet whatever I see and I hear.  […]
Only in the first days of demonstrations were there signs of fear among some people. We didn't [know] what would happen, but after the first day, people became brave enough to demonstrate and protest without fear, because they got used to riot-police violence […] They cannot stop us from thinking, from wanting what is best for ourselves […]
I always dreamed of studying in the USA […], but when I saw that our votes had been stolen – when I saw that they think we are stupid – I said to myself, ‘I have to do whatever I can, to see a free and democratic Iran before I leave my country.’ So I’m dreaming of a better future for Iran.

Greek blogger and journalist ttallou posted her correspondence with an Iranian expatriate using Facebook to publish photos from Tuesday's demonstration:

Government started to block most web sites, disconnected sms, mobiles, and people were not able to communicate yesterday, so far they arrested and injured many people and killed some. we (those who live outside), we started to send info from here and distribute among our fellows, also had demonstration all around the world. It’s really sad. We want our votes.
Mousavi himself is not important, what I do believe is that people decided to vote, so voted, decided to have this person as president, to have better situation, what hurts us is that government betrayed us

Blogger Sotiris Koukios published a letter from Tehran, from a young woman dreaming of freedom and equality, with a plea to Greeks for help and solidarity:

Αγαπητοί φίλοι στην Ελλάδα,

έχω κλείσει 5 μέρες στους δρόμους…. κάθε μέρα σε μια συνεχή πορεία διαμαρτυρίας… μια πορεία εναντίον ενός καθεστώτος που έζησα από την μέρα που γεννήθηκα. Είμαι 25 χρονών, την Τεχεράνη πριν από τους Αγιατολλάχ δεν τους έζησα. [..]

Η χώρα μου είναι βαθιά ρατσιστική για την γυναίκα, άδικη για τους περισσότερους πολίτες της και επικίνδυνη για όλους τους γείτονες μας. Δεν θέλω να ζω σε μια ατέλειωτη κηδεία…. Δεν θέλω το διαβατήριο μου να με κάνει ύποπτη σαν πιθανό τρομοκράτη. Και θέλω να ταξιδέψω, να ζήσω ελεύθερη και ισότιμα με όλους σας.

Αγαπητοί μου έλληνες φίλοι, βοηθήστε με και συμπαρασταθείτε. Η χώρα σας είναι αγαπητή στην χώρα μου. Είμαστε λαοί με αρχαίο πολιτισμό και ιστορικές παραδόσεις. Και πάντα με πολιτιστικούς και πολιτικούς δεσμούς. Τώρα σας έχουμε ανάγκη. Και θέλουμε από εσάς να διαδώστε το μήνυμα της ελευθερίας για εμάς. Αυτό πάντα σκεφτόμουνα για τους Έλληνες για το μπαράκι που πηγαίνω στην πόλη μου και καπνίζω κρυφά, πίνω καμμιά μπύρα κρυφά και μιλάω για την ελευθερία κρυφά. Και όλα αυτά με την υπόκρουση του Θεοδωράκη!!!

Dear friends in Greece,

I've been out on the streets for 5 days.. protesting every day in a continuous rally… a rally against a regime I've lived under since the day I was born. I'm 25 years old, I have never seen Tehran before the Ayatollahs. […]
My country is deeply discriminatory towards women, unfair to most of it's citizens, and dangerous to all our neighbors. I don't want to live in an endless funeral… I don't want my passport to brand me as a potential terrorist suspect. And I want to travel, to live free, as an equal to all of you.
My dear Greek friends, help me and support me. Your country is dear to mine. We are peoples with ancient cultures and historical traditions, always with cultural and political bonds. We need you now. And we want you to transmit the message of freedom for us. That's what I always thought about Greeks at the bar in my city, where I go to smoke secretly, drink beer secretly, and talk about freedom, secretly. And all that while listening to Theodorakis!

As in countless other countries, a wave of green avatars swept over the Greek “Twittersphere” last week, as Greek bloggers sought to express their solidarity with Iranian protesters in the aftermath of the June presidential elections.

Greek tweet


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