Protesters in Iran have launched what they are calling a “second level” of protesting, shifting from overt public displays such as street demonstrations and rallies, to more covert tactics like writing protest notes and slogans on rial banknotes – the Iranian currency.
With staunch government crackdowns on protest movements throughout the country, pro-democracy protesters are focusing on banknotes because it is a high circulation mass-medium.
The Pro-Democracy Movement of Iran reported Sunday that the Green Movement (named as such because the messages are written in green ink) and its message is not only gaining in popularity, but is also proving itself effective:
“The Central Bank of Iran has tried to take these banknotes out of circulation, but there are just too many of them, [so they] gave up.”
The protests oppose the recent reelection of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in what many, including Iranian reformist leader Mir Hossein Mousavi, have deemed a “rigged election” at the hands of the government.
French news website The Observers has posted several photos of the banknotes graffitied with messages like “In this country, only the government has freedom of speech. Don’t believe anything you hear” and “Khanmenei the dictator, Ahmadinejad the puppet.”
The Green Movement has also reverted to other subtle protest tactics like spray painting on walls and using a rarely observed religious holiday for a three-day strike.
ABC News: “Iran protests continue despite crackdown”
The Observers: “The revolt of the banknotes”
Pro-Democracy Movement of Iran: “Iranian banknotes uprising”
CBC.ca: “Iran blames US for bitter post-election dispute”