We know what the spark was. One dead body too many, and the Islamic Republic was shaken in the face of a popular revolt that suddenly threatened to turn into a revolution and ignited all corners of the country, even in the bases of the University of Tehran. During these weeks and now months of tumult, videos provide first-hand accounts. Although this filmed record has so much meaning for those who courageously ensure its distribution, the footage is sometimes relatively unclear when taken out of context.
Outside the country, two Iranian experts, Farzad Seifikaran and Payam Elhami, have undertaken the task of putting together the scattered pieces of this patchwork of a movement. Seifikaran is an investigative journalist, and Elhami is a data specialist. Together, they work hard to go through social media, in search of all the video material in circulation. They store them, sift through them, determine their origin and cross-reference their content with others to geolocate them. They are not cinematic masterpieces and their quality reflects the immediacy and danger. Their strength lies in the imperative need of their anonymous creators to show what is happening. A collective effort was needed to grasp the meaning and the scope of this major collection.
In the vast scene that emerges, it is not just a question of violence and repression. The shots are also those of celebrations, of moments of collective liberation. Men and women dance in the streets around a fire. How can you not be gripped when protesters start singing “Bella Ciao” at a funeral? How can you not understand the message, with its universal nature, its references that extend beyond Iran, and tell of the great song of freedom that spans time and continents?
Sharing a piece of history
The world has decided to take part in a project whose objective is to keep open a window into a movement in danger of obliteration. We are publishing the videos with verification and context so that a wide audience can grasp the momentum, the insights and the revealing moments. This work does not claim to give an exhaustive account of the situation. How can it? Independent media that could operate undisturbed in Iran or go to the country with no hindrances would make this platform, which by definition does not contain a plurality of viewpoints, obsolete. This project is intended to share a piece of history that is also a form of resistance to the fear of seeing the current movement discredited by the authorities.
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Mahsa Amini was only 22 years old when she died. She lived in Saqqez, a Kurdish town in northwestern Iran, and had traveled to Tehran with her family to visit the capital. On September 13, 2022, she was arrested by the morality police. At the time of her detention, her brother begged the police not to take her away. “We don’t know anyone here,” he told them. The young woman fell into a coma while in police custody, presumably due to blows to the head. Her hospitalization was made public by Iranian journalists including Niloufar Hamedi, who, working for the Iranian newspaper Sharghpublished a photo of the girl’s parents embracing in the empty corridor of Kasra Hospital in northern Tehran.
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