If you aren't aware (and many of you probably aren't), Iran held their elections for a new leader this past week and in a stunning upset, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was declared the winner with 62.6% of the votes. His pro-reform rival, Mir Hossein Mousavi, expressed possible problems with the ballot prior to the revolt against the alleged victory. The same day Mousavi wrote the letter, all SMS was cut off in Iran and forced the population to turn to Twitter to communicate quickly.
As the revolt grew in defiance of the outcome so did the violence escalate against the protesters. On the 13th, all social networking sites were inexplicably blocked and the internet became impossibly slow, preventing Iranians from speaking out to the world about the true events. Many were able to log on to the blocked/tracked social sites via third-party proxies, but Twitter, with the quickest load time and easiest accessibility, remains the most widely used.
As the victory rally marched, university students taunted and provoked the riot police but at the urging of Mousavi, most events were kept peaceful. Riot and plain-clothes police roamed about, however and subsequently beat, shot at (WARNING! GRAPHIC) and pummeled. Homes and dorms are being systematically searched and attacked.
There is only so much that can be done from anyone outside of Iran. Information is being monitored and severely censored - both coming in and going out - and it's become increasingly hard to discern which accounts are genuine and which are manufactured by the opposition. Outraged people from all over are reposting confirmed news feeds, protecting identities and setting up third party proxies to help keep the protesters safe for the time being. But even that's dangerous, as one anonymous Twitterer found out after being attacked on the streets of Ohio for his involvement.
This is not just an Iranian issue - it's a humanity issue. All we can do is so little, but that should just make it easier.
How you can help:
Stay informed: A few sources have proven more even-handed than others, the BBC being one. If you have a Twitter account (and who doesn't these days?), follow the #IranElection feed and ReTweet (RT) valid information. Saeed Valadbaygee's blog, Revolutionary Road is also an up-to-the-minute source from within the firing range.
Don't re-post names!: They ARE tracking these things and if they can find a way to target a college student in Ohio, don't think they won't do much worse to those in their own country.
Set up proxies: No, I don't know how to do this, but ProtesterHelp has a great page for directing those less inept than me.
If I get a chance, I'll post more about it, but please check out the other sources above. People are dying for a freedom that we take for granted and the world is ignoring them.
God knows no country, no race, no political affiliation and no gender. Neither should we.