More on Iran

[I've decided to continue following this in new posts each day, to keep things running smoothly.  This is Monday.  You can find Sunday's reports here, and Monday's reports here.]

As I wake up this morning, here in the safety of America, the unrest-approaching-revolution in Iran continues.  It’s currently 5:46PM in Iran, and Mousavi supporters are meeting in the middle of Tehran with their president, Mir-Hossein Mousavi as well as another Presidential candidate, Mehdi Karoubi.  Rumor says—and as-yet is unconfirmed—that former President Khatami will be there.  People have been asked to dress in Green, wear masks, and carry pictures of Imam Khomehni.  Meanwhile, the word is that the government has called for this rally to be stopped, because government forces will be armed with live ammunition, and will fire on any who attend.  But still the people show.

Elsewhere, the Supreme Leader has seemingly reversed his “divine assessment” comments about the election results, and is now saying that he’s ordering an investigation into the voting irregularities—no one seems to believe him.  It seems that at the same time, he was live on national TV issuing personal threats against Mousavi.  Through the night, police were raiding Universities across Iran.  Reports say that nearly 200 were arrested, and more than that were wounded—often badly.  Those wounded are being denied access to hospitals by security forces.

At this point, I’m trying to track all the english-writing Iranian twitter-feeds I can find.  Twitter seems to be just about the only service that has any sort of reliability in Iran right now.  Fortunately, some of the news services are starting to pick up on this.  Unfortunately it wasn’t until the government started seizing their equipment, arresting reporters, and ordering foreign news services out of the country.  As it stands, there’s at least 13 foreign reporters whose whereabouts are unknown, and more than a few reporters are posting stories about having been seized by the Revolutionary Guard or their associated militias, and being beaten and all their possessions taken.

So, as I have for the last two days, I’ll be watching this and tracking the Tweets from Iran over the course of the day, and posting updates here as I see them.  Also, if you’re interested in watching; BBC Persia has camera crews on the ground, and have live video of the rallies.  The whole thing is in Farsi, as far as I can tell, but the video is still good.

Timestamps are all in Iran local time.

[5:59PM] The rallies are happening.  Even two hours after the planned start, people are still coming in.  Reports on attendence in Tehran range from hundreds of thousands to 3 million (one abberant report of 5 million).  Most consistent I’m hearing is about 1 million.  Tweets say that Mousavi and Karoubi are there.  No video or pictures yet, cell phone service is spotty, or out.

[6:13PM] Some video from Tabriz:

[6:17PM] In Shiraz, people were clapping and chanting—then the teargas started coming.  Two reports say a small boy was struck in the head by a canister; condition unknown.

[6:30PM] Some screenshots from BBC Persia:

48dThat’s impressive turnout.

[6:40PM] It sounds like former-President Khatami did appear at the rallies—and called for the elections to be voided.

[7:18PM] Iran’s Parliament is starting a probe into the attacks on the University dorms last night.  With several hundred injured, and at least 5 reported dead, I’m not surprised.

[7:40PM] Someone claiming to be from the Iranian Telecom Company (state-owned) says the employees there were forced onto buses and taken to the Ahmedinejad rally yesterday.  They say they were told to celebrate the reelected President, or lose their jobs.  With unemployment and inflation as high as it is in Iran, that’s a pretty serious threat.

[7:52PM] I’m a bit concerned as to what’s going on in Rasht.  There’s been a rally there, but no pictures or video that I’ve seen, and a lot of text reports of strong violence by the police.

[7:59PM] The state news agencies are doing a nice propaganda job.

Just now, Iran’s state-run news agency IRNA reported that university exams are to follow as usual. The schedule will be the same and students are required to participate in a peaceful manner.

The Universities disagree, and have postponed the exams for a month, or until this blows over.

The University of Tehran web site sent out a bulletin indicating that  the destruction caused on campus was by a group of individuals whose intentions are to disrupt Iran’s security and peace.

That might technically be true.  The people firing bullets into dorm rooms through the doors, and beating and killing students are disrupting Iran’s security and peace.  If only that was what the news agency meant.

A dorm-room door

A dorm-room door

Meanwhile IRINN (Islamic Republic of Iran News) stated that the leaders of the Friday prayers from every province have expressed their appreciation from the Iranian public for a historic election

Except that they neglect the part where many of those leaders question the legitimacy of the election.  (h/t: niacINsight)

[8:06PM] Some photos and a very nice video of the crowds.

0wi500wiAnd some police looking very lost in the crowd:

800_s[8:36PM] I don’t know where all these people are supposed to have come from if Mousavi got less than a third of the vote.  Some of his supporters are surely staying out of this, and the rally was widely said to have been called off, or that police would shoot anyone who showed up.  So where did all these people come from, if Mousavi truly lost in a landslide?

[8:42PM] Andrew Sullivan’s blog at The Atlantic has been one of the best sources for what’s going on in Iran.  He keeps running tweets live as they come out of Iran, and has readers who translate Farsi for him before anyone else gets it.  His page has been slow to load, but it’s not because of heavy load (which they also have); The Daily Dish is under electronic attack, presumably for his coverage of the nascent revolution.

[9:00PM] It sounds like things are still bad in Rasht, and things are turning violent in Ahvaz.

[9:06PM] In Tehran at least, spirits are high.  Their numbers were overwhelming, and the police stayed back.  They’re looking for where to go next with this movement.

[9:08PM] Revising that slightly, it seems that the militia have started shooting at people now that the major rally is dispersing.  There’s at least one person dead, others wounded.

[9:19PM] More solid numbers on turnout coming in.  Based on the “official” numbers from Iran, the people in the streets would have to be a majority of the Mousavi voters in the Tehran metropolitan area based on even the most conservative reports I’ve seen from sources such as BBC Persia and German ARD.

[10:58PM] A tweet from one of the more militant twitterers in Iran:

Letter going around in some websites calling ppl to form “national guard” for organized resistance

Which if true would be interesting.  But they’ll want it, because they’re facing off against the basij, who are volunteer paramilitaries, often seen beating people with little provocation:

165

[11:09PM] From TehranBureau:

In Isfahan: the police that were overwhelmed by the protestors came back…this time around 300…fully loaded and prepared, … they shot tear gas into the crowds followed by rubber bullets, the bullets and batons were aimed for the faces in order to exert the maximum … injury..this brutal tactic paid off…the crowd dispersed… … there are however widespread local protests…the brutality and harshness of the secuirty forces is disgusting… … there is a rumor that some of the security forces are lebanese…it surely seems so…. [this seems to be a popular rumor; unconfirmed] … why else would a person treat his fellow countrymen this way? there are chants of allahakbar and marg bar dictator everywhere… … [God is Great and Death to the Dictator]” end quote

[11:27PM] As I noted above, the protesters at Azani Square were being shot at shortly after the largest crowds dispersed.  There were early claims that they’d be using live ammunition, the security forces say they’re using rubber bullets.  But if, as TehranBureau reports, they’re firing at head level, it doesn’t much matter.  Rubber bullets can be lethal too, especially if you’re hit in the head.  There’s a picture—supposedly from an AP photographer—going around of a man who is being described as “dead”, though there’s no way to confirm that.  Head wounds can bleed pretty viciously, but either way, it doesn’t look good.

[11:48PM] From niacINsight, apparently in response to the Azadi Square shootings:

“Reliable news from Iran has arrived that after the death of one person by Basij, the Basij base in Azadi Sq. has been burned down and the commander in that base has been killed.” [The fire is being confirmed by an eye-witness.]

Tuesday

[12:03AM] Translated from the Farsi by a Daily Dish reader (The Dish, now in Revolutionary Green!):

119 members of Tehran University faculty have resigned en-masse as a protest to the attack on Tehran University dorms last night. Among them is Dr Jabbedar-Maralani, who is known as the father of Iranian electronic engineering. They have asked for the resignation of Farhad Rahbari the appointed president of Tehran University, for his incompetence in defending the University’s dignity and student lives.

[12:06AM] From Radio Free Europe:

In SW Iran: Ahvaz: During today’s protest the women started chanting anti-Ahmadinejad slogans- the Basij went after the women and then the crowd attacked the Basij.  Conflicts continue.

[12:14AM] The Boston Globe has an amazing set of pictures.  Also, British Channel 4 News is reporting in—they’ve got a brief interview with Mehdi Karoubi, the first since this started.  I’d post the video, but can’t get it to load properly.

[12:34AM] Later today in Iran, Mousavi’s supporters are planning a general strike.  The latest news says that Mousavi will be giving a speech—or at the very least making an appearance—at 5PM in Tehran (7:30AM Central).  Vaguely related news:  American President Barack Obama may address the Iranian issue at 5:00 ET (1:30AM Tehran).  I’ll see what I can see.

[12:55AM] Photos from the Basij HQ:

1257215512572451

[1:42AM] The word coming down is that Twitter will be down for maintenance for 90 minutes starting at 9:15AM, Iranian time (Note to self:  Look up name for that time zone).  This could be a real problem for the protesters, as Twitter has been the primary method of contact between them all, with the spotty internet service and blocking of the other social networking sites.

[1:54AM] A lot of different sources are reporting that Iranian Intelligence is calling up everybody they can to personally threaten them with arrest if they come out to protest anymore..

[1:58AM] Britain’s Channel 4 News actually has some good coverage.  More importantly, they have video including a person I’m told is part of the basij, firing an AK into the crowd.  Go check ‘em out.

[2:48AM] Twitter has slowed down for the night.  If it’s like last night, it should start picking up again around 5:00AM IRT (I looked it up).  I had it from multiple sources that Barack Obama would be speaking a little over an hour ago, and might address Iran.  If he did, none of the television channels I caught were carrying it, and I can’t find anything about it online.

[4:30AM] I just got back from making dinner, and found that video of President Obama’s statement on Iran had been posted:

I’ll say this:  While I’d like to see support for the protesters, I think he’s taking the right position here.  The protesters will only be hurt if Ahmedinejad and his supporters can paint the protestors as puppets of Washington.  If the leaders of this movement ask for help, I think we should move—but not until then.

[4:42AM] Andrew Sullivan makes an interesting suggestion:

Oh, and the president should wear a green tie from now on. Every day. He need say nothing more.

[4:53AM] I’ve noticed on a few other blogs who seem to be as concerned as I am:  Change_for_Iran, who was twittering quite frequently, has not been heard from by us since 14 hours ago, when he posted this:

it’s worth taking the risk, we’re going. I won’t be able to update until I’m back. again thanks for your kind support and wish us luck

I hope he’s safe somewhere, and simply without access to Twitter.

[5:18AM] Twitter has done the right thing, and changed the time for their maintenance:

A critical network upgrade must be performed to ensure continued operation of Twitter. In coordination with Twitter, our network host had planned this upgrade for tonight. However, our network partners at NTT America recognize the role Twitter is currently playing as an important communication tool in Iran. Tonight’s planned maintenance has been rescheduled to tomorrow between 2-3p PST (1:30a in Iran).

[5:28AM] Rumors keep floating about a rally again, at 5:00PM IRT today.  Some are saying it’s not true; that neither Mousavi nor Karoubi have ordered the rally.  Others say that everyone is supposed to wear black for the rally.  I don’t pretend to know whether there is supposed to be a rally today.  I am positive that there will be one.

[6:00AM] It’s a new morning out there.  I hope everyone stays safe—as much as they can while challenging the government.

[6:22AM] A Manifesto has apparently been getting passed around (h/t: Andrew Sullivan):

  1. Dismissal of Khamenei for not being a fair leader
  2. Dismissal of Ahmadinejad for his illegal acts
  3. Temporary appointment of Ayatollah Montazeri as the Supreme Leader
  4. Recognition of Mousavi as the President
  5. Forming the Cabinet by Mousavi to prepare for revising the Constitution
  6. unconditional and immediate release of all political prisoners
  7. Dissolution of all organs of repression, public or secret.

[6:32AM] I’m hoping everyone’s just asleep.  Pretty much every twitterer that I know to be inside Iran hasn’t posted anything in half an hour now.

[6:44AM] This guy seems to be collecting photos of the protests from all the different sources.

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  1. #1 by dani on June 15, 2009 - 3:39 PM

    Just a small editing pointer.

    “Mousavi supporters are meeting as I write this in the middle of Tehran with their president…”

    This sentence is ambiguous and distracting. It sounds like you’re writing from Tehran instead of America. I suggest you revise it as, “As I write this, Mousavi supporters are meeting in the middle…”

    • #2 by Chadwick on June 15, 2009 - 4:01 PM

      Consider it corrected. I usually try to avoid that stuff, but as noted, it was written pretty much as I rolled out of bed. Thanks.

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