Kusha Sefat writes in a guest column for Informed Comment
Following the disputed Presidential election in Iran, our Western compatriots gave many suggestions on combating state oppression. Various tactics and strategies were devised for Iranian protesters, some on this very blog. It seems that most of those recommendations were ineffective within Iran’s particular social and political context. It may be worth outlining some of the tactics that were in fact useful to Iranian protesters particularly as the OWS movement kicks into high gear (assuming these tactics make sense within the American socio-political context). The following are the Top 10 most effective tactics for the OWS, stemming from the experience of mass social movement in Iran.
1) Pick a color to represent your movement and wear it daily in public places (work, restaurant, etc.). Remember, this is a numbers game. You want maximum visibility, and to bring your movement into everyday life.
2) Have an all-inclusive strategy. Accept people with different views who are willing to join you in protest. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to know what you want as a movement yet. The goal at this stage is to point to your opponents and say that they have been lying to you; that the show they have constructed is false and that you are sick of it.
3) Demonstrate peacefully. Committing violence during demonstrations leads to ruptures within your movement, diminishes public sympathy, and gives the security forces a reason to violently suppress your protest.
4) Be rigorous. Security forces, dressed as civilians, may commit public acts of violence in order to have an excuse to squash protests. Find footage of those that police accuses of acting violently. Make sure they are legitimate protestors. Expose them if they are not.
5) Be creative. During demonstrations in Iran, security forces dressed a male protester in female attire in a bid to embarrass him. The next day, hundreds of male protesters came out in female attire.
6) Record protests with your mobile phones and send to television stations. Many broadcasters are owned by the very people who are in the 1%. But every now and then, there are producers and news workers who are willing to get in trouble for showing the truth. This happened in Iran on many occasions. News websites have an e-mail address and they generally ask you to send them footage. Do IT.
7) Send your footage of acts of violence committed by the police to foreign television broadcasters like Al Jazeera, RT, etc. When they show the footage, it puts pressure on American broadcasters to do the same. (Iranian protestors used BBC very effectively, even though it is a British outlet).
8) Write, “I am 99%” or “OWS” on all dollar bills that you circulate. Remember, you are fighting on the plane of the symbolic, and cash circulates widely and quickly.
9) Do not let politicians co-opt your movement. Many politicians, domestic or not, may hope to use your movement to their advantage. Allow them to join your movement, but DO NOT let them lead or act as spokesperson.
10) Write arguments and op-eds that aim at the logic of the system that has robbed you of opportunities and comfort. Do not aim at a particular person. People can be replaced; it is the system that is hurting you.
Kusha Sefat was a media consultant in Iran and is now a Doctoral Student in Sociology at Queens’ College, University of Cambridge