Iran Protests: Comparison with Tiananmen Square

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#1 Iran Protests: Comparison with Tiananmen Square

Postby fountainhall » Wed Jan 03, 2018 11:36 am

In Iran, there are some parallels to Tiananmen Square, but many differences. First there is no one event that we are aware of that sparked the present Iranian protests. In China it was the sudden death in April 1989 of the highly popular reformist who had been General Secretary of the Party, Hu Yaobang. Students felt that the government did not accord Hu the state funeral he deserved and so gathered to protest in Tiananmen Square during the funeral service in the Great Hall of the People. Hu’s death had given a fillip to China’s hard-liners whom Deng Xiaoping had tried hard to sideline as he promoted reforms. Mixed in to this were protests about their dreadful university accommodations. The Cultural Revolution had dismantled and destroyed the country’s education system. Whilst much had been achieved in the ensuing 14 years, student accommodation was not a high priority. These were the flashpoints.

Second, the Iranian protests did not start in the country’s capital, but in the city of Mashad, the most holy city in the country. Then from what we have heard, they did not build over a period of time but broke out almost simultaneously in quite a few other cities. In only a few days, they are now apparent in almost all major cities, including Qom, the second most holy site. Participants seem to be drawn from many levels of society, including staunch Muslims. They are not only students.

Strangely, at least to me, there has been a freer atmosphere in the country under President Rohani than there was under the previous President Ahmadinejad. The nuclear deal has allowed Iran to sell oil again, and many European companies are commencing operations and building factories in the country. Against that the hard-line President Ahmadinejad had all but destroyed the country’s economy during his 8-year tenure and left it with a massive debt burden. The economy cannot be rebuilt quickly given that many sanctions remain in force. This again differs from China where the country was well over the start line of major economic progress.

Like Beijing, though, at present there is no single leader or group of leaders. The protests have not yet coalesced into a single movement. Leaders advocating a specific agenda only appeared in Tiananmen in the latter part of the protest movement. To a certain extent lack of employment opportunities for the young is similar to Beijing. But in China students were looking more to their futures, afraid that under the rapidly changing economic climate, their studies might not be geared to employment in the new freer economy. During the six weeks of protests in Beijing, most of the students twice left the Square to return to their classes leaving only a small core of less than 10,000. It will be interesting to see if Iran will also see similar waves of demonstrations.

Major corruption at many levels of society is also playing a role. The stifling of individual means of expression by a very strict religious regime may bear some similarity. Completely different is the role Iran has been playing outside the country, escapades that have drawn tens of thousands into external wars and killed many. These must also have significantly reduced the amount of cash available for economic development. China had no similar external wars.

Also, in my view, the protests reflect concern that far too many government funds disappear for the training of foreign mullahs who can then spread the regime’s philosophy throughout the region, funds that should be going to improving employment opportunities within the country.

But long before the Iranian protests started, we have to remember that in China there had been, as far as records show, no outside foreign influence that affected the outcome. It was an internal Chinese issue. Foreign influence very definitely plays a part in the troubles in Iran and its recent history. The USA was by far the largest supplier of arms to the Shah. When he fled into exile, most of these fell into the hands of the mullahs. An arms embargo followed with the USA launching a worldwide diplomatic effort to persuade all nations not to sell arms to the new Iranian regime. This was named Operation Staunch. Unknown to the world, the USA soon started secretly selling arms to the mullahs and illegally forwarding the profits to the Contras in Nicaragua. How much of this large cache of arms is now being used against the protesters?

Lastly, the advent of social media has inevitably led to the protestors spreading their message way faster than could have been the case in 1989.

In recent days President Trump has shown his utter hypocrisy by talking about the lack of Human Rights in Iran. When did he once express those feelings when he visited, was fawned over by and lavishly praised the autocratic rulers of regimes like China, Saudi Arabia and the Philippines or welcomed the autocratic ruler of Malaysia into the Oval Office?

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#2 Re: Iran Protests: Comparison with Tiananmen Square

Postby Smiles » Wed Jan 03, 2018 4:11 pm

No need to write a book mate. I was referring to the massacre itself (not too many folks getting run over by a tank stop to think much about causal analysis) and hoping such murder would not be repeated in Iran.
Cheers ... ( and just one more reason why I love living in Thailand )


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#3 Re: Iran Protests: Comparison with Tiananmen Square

Postby fountainhall » Wed Jan 03, 2018 4:32 pm

The comparison has come up in other posts recently giving the impression that the two events are virtually identical. All I was trying to point out is that they are not. And I agree - hopefully they will have different endings.

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