Iranians on Twitter do not want to be ‘forgiven’ for 2009 protests

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After Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s personal website published a poster of a court case that ruled the 2009 protests “unforgivable,” many Iranians took to Twitter to criticize the poster and express their own feelings about the contested 2009 protests that brought millions to the streets and saw dozens killed.

Immediately after the poster was published, Iran’s police chief reiterated the “unforgivable” slogan, and many Iranians on Facebook and Twitter shared the image. Soon, however, some Iranians began to use the hashtag #unforgivable on Twitter in Persian to express their feelings a wide range of issues they deem “unforgivable,” with many calling the eight years of former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s two terms in office “unforgivable.”

Some Iranian Twitter users shared a Photoshopped version of the original poster replacing the title of the court case from “the sedition of 2009,” a term the government uses, to “the coup d’état of the 2009 elections.”

In response to 2009 presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi’s nephew being killed in the protests, this user wrote “#unforgivable is killing your opposition’s nephew.”

Many users also said that they had never even asked to be forgiven. As user @1mahraz noted, “Someone can [choose] not to forgive [only] when a request for forgiveness has been made of them #unforgivable.”

Others posted pictures of those killed during December’s bloody Ashura protests. User @Spinooza wrote, “#unforgivable In honor of the memory of those who lost their lives in Ashura of 2009”

Journalist Ali Fotovvati from Radio Zamaneh, quoting the chants from the Ashura protests in support of Mousavi, wrote, “Four years ago on a day like this: We are the Green Movement and we’re the bannermen of Imam Hussein. We’re all with Mir Hussein.”

On Mousavi’s and Karroubi’s refusal to apologize or admit a mistake, Mehdi Saharkhiz, son of Isa Saharkhiz, a political activist who was recently released from prison, wrote, “For some, honor is not for sale, even if they become #unforgivable.”

Twitter user @mirHabil tweeted many unforgettable pictures from the 2009 protests with just the hashtag #unforgivable.

The 2009 elections that brought Ahmadinejad back into office continue to be a very sensitive issue in Iran. The protests brought a widespread crackdown on a level not seen in decades and, in a rare admission by Iran’s intelligence minister at the time, security officials were caught off guard by the size of the dissent. Two candidates from that election continue to live under house arrest for contesting the vote and encouraging protests and civil disobedience. Many other activists and journalists were also handed long prison sentences.

According to government officials, President Hassan Rouhani’s administration has been campaigning behind the scenes for the release of the candidates, but hard-liners continue to insist that the events of 2009 caused too much harm to the government for there to be leniency.