This campaign began in October 2010 as a response to the ongoing injustice in Iran.
The idea was to create a meaningful campaign based on the desires and demands expressed, at great personal risk, by those inside Iran who were in prison, or whose loved ones were killed by the regime in the bloody crackdown that started after the disputed June 2009 presidential election. They want justice, as guaranteed by the Iranian constitution and international protocols to which the Iranian regime is a signatory.
Trying to get one million signatures on a petition demanding justice for those wrongfully detained, tortured, jailed or killed didn’t seem like too much to hope for when we started out. With hindsight, October 2010 was probably about a year too late in terms of catching the full power of the “green wave” that roared across social networks in 2009. After 15 months, the petition had just over 11,000 signatures. Some were added on the speak4iran.org website, others via change.org and Care2’s petitionsite.com, and the rest by email or on forms left in shops or taken to local gatherings.
2011 was a challenging year for the One Million Voices for Iran campaign. Both Change and Care2 have been subjected to attacks on their website by hackers, and the speak4iran.org website was taken offline because the hosting package expired and there was a problem accessing the remaining campaign funds – which explains why I moved speak4iran.org page by page to this WordPress.com hosted blog while hoping to recover the donations.
After a year of waiting, I gave up hope of ever seeing that money again. I also came to accept that the powerful sense of betrayal attached to the realisation that someone I trusted stole funds donated by well-wishers to help gather support for people in prison will never leave me. I also feel very foolish and embarrassed, and worry that once this news is out, people will lose confidence in the campaign, or in me. None of my fears or feelings are going to bring that money back. People who know me will also know I do my best, and I always try to put right my mistakes, but I am still just one person, still only human. So, I decided to continue with the campaign as a free WordPress website, continue to focus my attention on the Iran Prisoner List, and retire the online petitions on Care2 and Change so that all new signatures are added as comments to a re-vamped Petition post. I made this post by way of apology and explanation. I am really and truly sorry for the way things have turned out. And I am not quitting.
I still believe that it is possible to gather a million petition signatures. However, it needs sustained effort: something that was gradually eroded from the campaign as all but one of the original team faded from the scene.
There are new petitions for individuals or small groups being launched almost daily for prisoners in Iran. I still don’t think that is the best way to go about making change, but I recognize it as a way to show support – one that many online activists seem to prefer, and that alone makes it somehow valid.
I remind myself that the problems I’ve mentioned here are minuscule compared to what I see people enduring daily in Iran and around the world. I made a commitment to this campaign, and to my friends in Iran, and I intend to see it through and to recover some lost momentum. In 2010 we created a wonderful Arts Showcase to mark the International Day for Human Rights on 10 December and last year I brought the Iran Prisoner List database under the umbrella of the campaign. For the remainder of the year I will endeavour to come up with a fresh idea, perhaps involving the arts again, as art in its many forms is so much a part of Iranian culture.
So here we are: a new home but an old battle: to demand only those rights that are already guaranteed to citizens of Iran under their constitution. Do please join me, and together we can echo the voices of Iran silenced by the regime.
Anita Hunt aka “lissnup”
7 October 2012