Iranian Election Protests

Postby RaharuAharu » Sun Jun 14, 2009 12:57 am

Its very difficult to find accurate news on the Iranian protests at the moment, as the political leaders there have locked down portions of their internet access...

I did find some videos of the protests
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5w6rWdrP ... annel_page here

Here is a little more information..

http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/t ... posts.html

There is also a fark thread with a few more info links

http://www.fark.com/cgi/comments.pl?IDLink=4447091
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Re: Iranian Election Protests

Postby RaharuAharu » Sun Jun 14, 2009 10:21 am

http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/theeditors/2 ... g_now.html


« Previous | Main
Stop the blocking now

Post categories: BBC News website, World Service

Peter Horrocks | 14:03 PM, Sunday, 14 June 2009

BBC audiences in Iran, the Middle East and Europe may be experiencing disruption to their BBC TV or radio services today. That is because there is heavy electronic jamming of one of the satellites the BBC uses in the Middle East to broadcast the BBC Persian TV signal to Iran. Satellite technicians have traced that interference and it is coming from Iran. There has been intermittent interference from Iran since Friday but this is the heaviest yet.

It seems to be part of a pattern of behaviour by the Iranian authorities to limit the reporting of the aftermath of the disputed election. In Tehran John Simpson and his cameraman were briefly arrested after they had filmed the material for this piece.
And at least one news agency in Tehran has come under pressure not to distribute internationally any pictures it might have of demonstrations on the streets in Iran.

However, the availability of witness material from Iran is enabling international news organisations to be able to report the story. Viewers of BBC Persian TV have been in touch (in Farsi) sending videos, stills and providing personal accounts.

It is important that what is happening in Iran is reported to the world, but it is even more vital that citizens in Iran know what is happening. That is the role of the recently launched BBC Persian TV which is fulfilling a crucial role in being a free and impartial
source of information for many Iranians. Any attempt to block this channel is wrong and against international treaties on satellite communication. Whoever is attempting the blocking should stop it now.
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Re: Iranian Election Protests

Postby RaharuAharu » Sun Jun 14, 2009 10:37 am

Ahmadinejad: No guarantee on rival's safety
with Video link.

http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/meast/06/ ... index.html
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Re: Iranian Election Protests

Postby Wizard CaT » Sun Jun 14, 2009 11:52 am

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124495476438612973.html

FARNAZ FASSIHI wrote:TEHRAN -- Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said his re-election was "real and free" and cannot be questioned.

Mr. Ahmadinejad made the comments Sunday during a press conference -- his first since Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei annointed him the winner of Friday's presidential race, triggering violent protests across the nation and allegations by his nearest challenger of widespread vote rigging.

Mr. Ahmadinejad also accused foreign media of launching a "psychological war against" against the country.

Supporters of opposition presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi clashed with Iranian police after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was declared the victor in a contentious election.

About a mile away from Mr. Ahmadinejad's press conference, young Iranians set trash bins, banks and tires on fire as riot police beat them back with batons, the Associated Press reported.

"The election will improve the nation's power and its future," he told a room packed with Iranian and foreign media, according to AP.

Several Iranian journalists who asked questions first congratulated Mr. Ahmadinejad for his victory. When asked about the allegations of voting irregularities, the president brushed the claims off.

"Some believed they would win, and then they got angry. It has no legal credibility. It is like the passions after a football match. It is not important from my point of view," he said. "The margin between my votes and the others is too much, and no one can question it."

The violence in the streets ratcheted up the stakes in the most contentious election since the founding of the Islamic republic 30 years ago. Prolonged strife or a political standoff would heighten the uncertainty hanging over a country that is one of the world's biggest oil producers and Washington's main irritant in the volatile Middle East.

As night descended on Tehran Saturday, supporters of main challenger Mir Hossein Mousavi clashed with anti-riot police and plain-clothed militia. The city resembled a military zone as thousands of Special Forces units and anti-riot police stormed streets waving their electric batons and hitting rioters and onlookers.

Military cars blocked large swaths of main throughways and instead of traffic police, the para-military Basijis—trained volunteers in plain-clothes—were directing traffic. Vali Asr, the long Tehran avenue where Mousavi supporters last week formed a giant human chain during presidential campaigning, was covered in smoldered black ash—from burnt campaign posters that had been ripped from walls—and shattered glass. Dark smoke hung in the air from garbage dumpsters that were set ablaze on many streets.

On Motahari Avenue, one of the major streets in central Tehran, three public buses were set afire by demonstrators. Syamak Izadi, 62 years old, said he was riding on the bus in central Tehran when a group of men, dressed in Mr. Mousavi's trademark green, stopped the bus and told passengers to get off. They then doused it with gasoline and set it afire, he said.

Protestors played cat and mouse with the police. They gathered on corners throwing their fists in the air, then ran away when riot police descended. On Hafteh Tir square, several hundred people, including men and women, young and old, marched blocking traffic shouting "God is Great" and asking the public to join them. People gathered on pedestrian bridges and encouraged the protestors while drivers honked their horns.

There was unconfirmed shooting reported in northern Tehran with reports of one woman injured from stray bullets.

"The results are not acceptable to us, Mousavi needs to lead the crowd and depose this government," said a 37-year-old biologist who gave his name only as Kasra.

Shouts of "Allah o Akbar" rocked Tehran, reminiscent of the revolution where residents take to their rooftops and shout God is Great in order to show their protest.

Mobile phone service was suspended across the capital. BBC's Persian language service, which many Iranians listen to for news, was jammed. Social networking site Facebook, used by Mr. Mousavi's young supporters to organize, was blocked. On Vali Asr, a pedestrian bridge was set ablaze near Mellat Park.

Vice President Joe Biden said Sunday he had doubts about whether Iran's presidential election was free and fair, though the U.S. must accept "for the time being'' Tehran's claim that Mr. Ahmadinejad won.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the U.S. hopes the outcome of the election reflects the "genuine will and desire" of the Iranian people. White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said the U.S. administration is paying close attention to reports of alleged election irregularities.

At a joint appearance with Sec. Clinton, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon said his country was "deeply concerned'" by reports of irregularities in the election.

Supporters of Mr. Mousavi had begun gathering outside the interior ministry and outside his campaign headquarter in central Tehran early in the morning. At that time, uniformed police and plain-clothes security officials broke up groups of protesters, chasing some away from the buildings.

At one point, groups of supporters near Mr. Mousavi's headquarters shouted "death to the dictator," a chant borrowed from the Iranian revolution. Security forces responded by bludgeoning several with batons.

Several journalists were beaten badly, and a female protester was beaten unconscious by uniformed police. As the police battled the protesters, demonstrators and onlookers from windows and from the sides of the streets shouted, "security forces, shame on you."

"Is this democracy?" said Ali Reza, a 30-year-old Mousavi campaign worker, whose eyes were red from tear gas and his white pants torn and bloodied. "We don't have any power to fight these people, but what they are doing is unfair," he said.

Security forces also used pepper spray and tear gas against workers inside the campaign headquarters, throwing canisters through the front door.

Most shopkeepers had closed their stores along the street. But several also opened their doors to provide refuge to protesters. At a traditional Persian restaurant, security forces knocked down the front door, and dragged out dozens of young men and women.

Iranian universities--in the middle of final exams--suspended classes for a week as of today, students said.

The violence and stiff public resistance to the final tally is unprecedented in recent Iranian elections, and threatens wider demonstrations by Mr. Mousavi's supporters, a stiff crackdown from the state, or both.

Political observers warned of a potentially turbulent week ahead. One popular slogan shouted by Mr. Mousavi's supporters at the campaign rallies: "If there is cheating, Iran will blow up."

Iran's interior ministry, in a televised press conference late Saturday afternoon, said Mr. Ahmadinejad had won 24,527,516, or 62.6% of the votes cast. Mr. Mousavi, a reformist former prime minister, won 13,216,411, or 33.8%, according to ministry figures.

Reformist Mehdi Karroubi garnered just 0.85% of the vote, and Mohsen Rezaei, a conservative challenger, won 678,240, or 1.73%. Mr. Khamenei said turnout was above 80%, and congratulated Iran for the vote.

The endorsement by Mr. Khamenei, who has final say in all matters of state policy, essentially served as an official seal of approval for the results.

Earlier in the day, Mr. Mousavi's campaign workers said the communications wing of their candidate's election operation had been shut down Saturday morning by court order.

"We were expecting some level of cheating but no one was expecting this charade," said Hamid Reza Jalaeipour, a sociologist and senior advisor to Mr. Mousavi's campaign. "Mr. Mousavi will not accept these results and will fight it."

In a statement attributed to Mr. Mousavi in leaflets passed out by supporters and posted on his Web site, the candidate said he "contests the obvious cheating in the election and would like to warn that he would not cave into this dangerous charade."

But Mr. Ahmadinejad's supporters defended their candidate.

"There was no cheating," said 68-year-old Heshmat Akhlaghi, an Ahmadinejad supporter who lives on the outskirts of southern Tehran.

State television showed footage of polling stations packed with voters on Friday. It aired several-days-old footage of Messrs. Ahmadinejad and Mousavi, each calling for the public to accept the election results.

"Mr. Ahmadinejad is the president for all the people. We expect the other candidates to respect the people's will," Mojtabah Samareh Hashemi, the campaign manager for Mr. Ahmadinejad, was quoted saying on Rajanews, the website affiliated with Mr. Ahmadinejad.

Raganews carried a number of congratulatory articles and called the election "the victory of honesty over deception."

Campaign offices at Mr. Mousavi's northern Tehran headquarters were raided by unknown assailants and staff were harassed, according to workers there.

In this election, the race for the presidency wasn't just about the candidates but also about Iran's direction. Mr. Mousavi embodied hope from supporters inside and outside Iran for more moderate, pragmatic administration, while Mr. Ahmadinejad represented the republic's tradition of radical ideology.

On election day, throngs of voters flooded into polling stations. State media reported unprecedented turnout among Iran's voters. At many polling stations across the country, crowds formed lines that snaked several miles.

Mr. Mousavi said there was an organized effort to block his campaign staff from communicating with one another and the public on Friday. The Ministry of Telecommunications imposed a nation-wide block of text messaging from mobiles. Mr. Mousavi's supervisors at polls were planning to report discrepancies by text messages.

Thousands of Mr. Mousavi's volunteer supervisors were not issued credentials by the Interior Ministry, which runs the elections, and were barred from polling stations, Mr. Mousavi said. Internet speed was slower than usual all day and by noon nearly all Web sites affiliated with Mr. Mousavi were blocked.

The campaign said that a group of people, who identified themselves as intelligence officers, entered Mr. Mousavi's campaign headquarters in northern Tehran on Friday evening demanding that the young strategists at the campaign, responsible for much of deploying new media techniques, leave the premises.

Mr. Mousavi's campaign lawyer, Mahmoud Alizadeh, said in an interview that Tehran's chief prosecutor informed Mr. Mousavi's campaign lawyer that security agents would arrive Saturday morning with a court order to shut down all their communication operations.

Mr. Obama and many of his advisers had been voicing optimism in recent days that the U.S. president's outreach to the Islamic world, including his speech in Cairo last week, was helping facilitate a more moderate trend in the Middle East. They cited the victory in Lebanese elections last week of a pro-Western coalition against a political bloc led by Hezbollah.

"We are excited to see what appears to be a robust debate taking place in Iran," Mr. Obama said Friday at the White House before the dueling claims of victory came out.

U.S. and European officials involved in Iran policy fear Mr. Ahmadinejad's re-election could raise the prospect of sustained conflict between the West and Tehran in the coming months.
—Roshanak Taghavi, Jay Solomon and the Associated Press contributed to this article.

Write to Farnaz Fassihi at farnaz.fassihi@wsj.com
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Re: Iranian Election Protests

Postby Anna » Sun Jun 14, 2009 1:12 pm

There is no english translation of some german articles now.
Maybe tomorrow.
One of it could explain why Ahmadinedschad had good results.
Mussawis followers did not count with the people on the country, here are living very conservative simple people and they did mostly vote for the present president.
Like in the USA, the bible belt is republican.
And as Ahmadinedschad did travel in these regions he also did spread some free food packages and free potatoes to the people.
These are also the people which did bring Ahmadinedschad to the presidentship 4 years ago.
They believe in him.

And Mussawi did forgot them, he was to much concentrated in the cities, to the intellectuals and others.
So I have deep doubts that this starting revolution in Teheran will have any success.

Oh, I am sure that there was some election betray, but is was silly and there was no need, and indeed there are some illregularies.
In my opinion, the clique at the iranian top had to much fear and so they screwed it up.
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Re: Iranian Election Protests

Postby Anna » Mon Jun 15, 2009 5:45 am

Here is an article from a german website
AFTER THE ELECTION
Iran's Growing Societal Chasm

By Dieter Bednarz

Thousands of Iranians took to the streets in Tehran to protest the results of Friday's presidential election. The opposition may abhor re-elected President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei is also a target -- the result of a growing split in Iranian society.
...
full text here:
http://www.spiegel.de/international/wor ... 64,00.html


And the british "telegraph"
Iran protest cancelled as leaked election results show Mahmoud Ahmadinejad came third
Iran's reformist presidential candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi has called off a major rally to protest last Friday's election results, amid claims police had been cleared to open fire on protesters.
...
full text here:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldne ... third.html
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Re: Iranian Election Protests

Postby RaharuAharu » Mon Jun 15, 2009 12:48 pm

Diagram of the Iranian Government

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/06/1 ... 15189.html

and a ton of recent flickr photos of events in Iran.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/arasmus/
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Re: Iranian Election Protests

Postby RaharuAharu » Mon Jun 15, 2009 4:13 pm

The latest Fark thread on the Iranian Revolts.

http://www.fark.com/cgi/comments.pl?IDLink=4450301

One user there, Tatsuma has summed up events nicely. I shall post his comments..

This seems to be helping quite a few people, so I'll go ahead and repost it in every threads with some adjustments. Sorry, this has reached the level of TL;DR but I really am trying to cram the most relevant information and speculation only. Everything is updated as events unfold, especially the timeline and what will happen in the future.

Suppression of Dissent - The Players

Currently, there are either two or three groups who are suppressing the students on the ground that you'll read about throughout this thread:

1. The Basij
2. Ansar Hizbullah (which I will refer to as Ansar)
3. Lebanese Hizbullah (Unconfirmed but highly probable. Many different independent reports and video point that way. Even in the last hours other independent twitter feeds have declared witnessing thugs beating on people while shouting in Arabic; I will refer to them as Hizbullah)

- The Basij are your regular paramilitary organization. They are the armed hand of the clerics. The Basij are a legal group, officially a student union, and are legally under direct orders of the Revolutionary Guard. Their main raison d'être is to quell dissent. They are the ones who go and crack skulls, force people to participate in pro-regime demonstrations, and generally try to stop any demonstrations from even starting. They are located throughout the country, in every mosque, every university, every social club you can think of. They function in a way very similar to the brownshirts.

They were the ones who first started the crackdown after the election, but it wasn't enough. While they are violent and repressive, they are still Persian and attacking fellow citizens. A beating is one thing, mass killings another.

- Another group was working with them, whose members are even more extreme, is Ansar. There is a lot of cross-membership between the Basij and Ansar, though not all are members of the other group and vice-versa. The vast majority of Ansar are Persians (either Basij or ex-military), though a lot of Arab recruits come from Lebanon and train with them under supervision of the Revolutionary Guard. They are not functioning under a legal umbrella, they are considered a vigilante group, but they pledge loyalty directly to the Supreme Leader and most people believe that they are under his control. They are currently helping the Basij to control the riots, but due to the fact that they are Persians and in lower numbers than the Basij, they are not that active.

- (the following paragraph includes some speculation based on reports from ground zero) Hizbullah flew in a lot of their members in Iran, most likely a good deal even before the elections in case there were trouble. They are the ones who speak Arabs and are unleashing the biggest level of violence on the Persians so far. Another wave arrived recently and there is chatter that yet another wave of Hizbullah reinforcements are coming in from Lebanon as we speak. According to Iranians on the ground, they are the ones riding motorcycles, beating men women and children indiscriminately and firing live ammunitions at students.

The Lebanese Hizbullah is a direct offshoot (and under direct control) of the Iranian Hizbullah (itself under direct control of the Supreme Leader) and cooperates closely with Ansar though Ansar occupies itself only with Iran's domestic policies, while Hizbullah occupies itself only with Iran's foreign policy unless there is a crisis like right now. However, Hizbullah has been called to stop violent riots in Iran in the past.

What will happen

Unless the army decides to intervene in the favor of the Council and to stop the early beginnings of the new Revolution, Ansar & Hizbullah members will be the ones doing the brunt of the killing and repression with Basij as a support while also protecting government buildings and try to do crowd control. The police seems to have for the most part disbanded in centers like Tehran according to all reports, including international media. If the police decides to come back, they will focus less on protection and crowd control, so the Basij will start to crack more skulls).

Currently, this is what is happening.


Timeline
note: I built this through both articles and twitter feeds, so I do not claim that this is a 100% factually correct representation of reality, but this is the general narrative.

- When the first spontaneous riots erupted, the first wave the Iranian Riot Police was called in, and short after the Basij also took the scene. The RP concentrated mostly around public buildings and streets while the Basij took position around student groups, especiallly universities.

- As things got more out of hand, more and more Basij troops were called in, as the police started dispersing. The riot police are less inclined (or, rather I should say the Basij are more inclined) to use violence so they retreated and leaving the place to the Basij.

- With the second wave of Basij also came Ansar Hizbullah members. This is the point where firearms started being used. There are reports of a few murders but it was mostly fired in the air or on walls in order to scare away protesters in University dorms.

- It's around the time of the second wave that the first reports and videos of an important number of non-Persian thugs shouting in Arabic and violently beating people with chains, clubs and electric batons (similar to cattle prods). The end of the second wave came right before the beginning of the current manifestation. Things were getting quieter with only sporadic reports of dissenters being assaulted. Important to note: at this time. the Supreme Leader has authorized these militias to use live ammunition against the crowd if things get out of hand (source: BBC)

- This brings us to the third wave, which just began around 12:30PM for those of us on the East Coast. According to all reports, plainclothes militia have opened fire on civilians protesting peacefully.

Right now, there is chaos in the streets, reports of fighting all over Tehran, plenty of pictures of people shot, some to death. Things are ugly and this is spreading in other cities as well. There is a major crackdown on students, especially those with connections to the outside world going on right now. Some people report that the students are fighting back in some areas. Telephones are being bugged and everyone twittering and sending videos outside of Iran are being rounded up.

Violent and murderous repression has started. At least a twenty people have been killed so far. Things will spiral down fast, and very soon.

- The people are fighting back. First, they took over and burned down a Basij base, killing its commander. Then, they attacked the Basij HQ with molotov cocktails and there are reports of Basij beaten to death as well.

Right now, most people have gone to sleep and there is a major manifestation tomorrow as well, including a general strike all over Iran. This is the end of the third wave.

- Major events during the third wave: Basij bases have been attacked, and the Basij HQ has been burned to the ground. A Basij shot a girl in the face in front of their HQ, at which point a policeman went to confront them. The Basij beat the policeman, at which point students stormed the compound, throwing molotov cocktails, burning it to the ground. This is big.


Information on the Basij
http://www.globalsecurity.org/intell/wo ... /basij.htm

Info from CNN
http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/meast/06/ ... index.html

Info on the Ansar
http://www.globalsecurity.org/intell/wo ... /ansar.htm
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Re: Iranian Election Protests

Postby RaharuAharu » Mon Jun 15, 2009 4:19 pm

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Re: Iranian Election Protests

Postby RaharuAharu » Mon Jun 15, 2009 10:13 pm

Are you wondering what you can do to help the Iranian Protesters?

It seems there is a little something you can do..


important: The Iranian government is looking for dissident twitterers, so if you have an account, change your location and timezone to tehran!
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Re: Iranian Election Protests

Postby Wizard CaT » Mon Jun 15, 2009 10:38 pm

FARNAZ FASSIHI and ROSHANAK TAGHAVI wrote:TEHRAN -- The largest demonstration here since the Iranian revolution ended in gunfire Monday, after hundreds of thousands of protesters thronged a central square and Iran's ruling cleric ordered an investigation into allegations of fraud in the presidential election.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's call hedged his strong backing of the result of Friday's vote. It appeared to be in response to two days and nights of violent protests here, and suggested growing unease among the clerics who sit atop Iran's complex power structure.

In the past few days, a number of senior clerics have met with Mr. Khamenei or written to him, urging him to intervene, according to a series of public letters from the clerics. One grand ayatollah, one of the highest-ranking clerics, issued a religious order demanding his followers not cooperate with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's government.

Demonstrators, many wearing the green of defeated challenger Mir Hossein Mousavi's campaign, defied a ban on gathering and marched peacefully Monday on Enghelab Street, the center of the 1979 revolutionary demonstrations. The sea of people, estimated by several news agencies in the hundreds of thousands, stretched more than 5.5 miles. There were unconfirmed reports of at least one shooting death.

Mr. Mousavi made brief remarks at the edge of the gathering, saying he would welcome a new vote. Though he had said Sunday he was under house arrest, authorities let him to travel. It is unclear whether the house arrest was lifted. After he spoke, crowds chanted, "Mousavi, Karroubi, Unity," referring to Mr. Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, a reformist cleric who also lost in the election.

After a weekend of violent confrontation between the security services and protesters, Iranian riot police stood by during Monday's demonstration. They held their shields at their sides, and watched the protests without interfering. The Basij paramilitary force, armed plainclothes militia, were absent for most the day.

The demonstration began at 4 p.m. and lasted more than five hours, blocking all traffic on the seven-lane road and on many of the side streets around it.

At around 8 p.m., gunshots rang near a compound that belonged to Basij militia near Azadi Square. A scuffle broke out between the Basij and young male demonstrators. The militia opened fire and wounded several and appeared to kill one, according to video footage. The limp body of the apparently dead man was carried by others, blood dripping on his white shirt as demonstrators shouted, "I will kill the one who killed my brother."

A group of demonstrators with fuel canisters attempted to set fire to the compound and burned a motorcycle that belonged to the Basij, according to the Associated Press. Black smoke billowed into the air as the crowd dispersed. As some in the crowd attempted to storm the building, people inside could be seen firing directly at the demonstrators at the northern edge of the square, away from the heart of the demonstration, according to the AP.

Separately, a student-run news service reported that five students -- two women and three men -- were killed Sunday night in dormitory raids by Basij forces at Tehran University. That report couldn't be independently verified.

The images from the protests and allegations of election fraud drew stronger reactions around the world Monday, after an initially muted response from the West. Late Monday afternoon, President Barack Obama said he was "deeply troubled" by the violence. "The democratic process, free speech, the ability of people to peacefully dissent -- all those are universal values and need to be respected," he said.

Demonstrators pledged to continue taking to the streets until the government heeds their demands. Another rally was scheduled for Tuesday at Tehran's Vali Asr Square. Protesters informed one another about the rally by shouting and holding up signs.

The violence ended a day of mostly peaceful protests. During the demonstration, the crowd at times chanted slogans, raising their voices as helicopters swooped overhead. Protesters also appeared eager to avoid confrontation, and hushed down inflammatory slogans, urging the crowd instead to raise their hands in a V-sign for peace.

A 73-year-old shopkeeper said he walked more than six miles to the demonstration. "I have only ever voted twice, once at the beginning of the revolution...and once for Mousavi," he said. "Today was wonderful. Tomorrow will be even better."

Mr. Mousavi has alleged massive vote rigging. He won 34% of the votes cast, to Mr. Ahmadinejad's 63%, according to Iran's Interior Ministry. Mr. Ahmadinejad has said the vote was free and fair.

Mr. Mousavi told the crowd on Monday his solution was "canceling the result of this disputed election," according to the AP, adding, "This will have the least cost for our nation. Otherwise, nothing will remain of people's trust in the government and ruling system."

Mr. Karroubi, the other defeated challenger, also appeared in public, standing on the roof of his car and waving at supporters. Former President Mohamad Khatami also drove through the crowd but didn't speak. As the motorcades passed, demonstrators rushed to catch a glimpse and a photo and cheered.

A young cleric from the Shiite holy city of Qom addressed the crowd. "I have come to bring you a message from Qom," he said. "Without a doubt, all clerical scholars are against the current situation. The only person acceptable to them is Mr. Mousavi, they have rejected Mr. Ahmadinejad's request to meet them in the past two days."

Earlier Monday, state media quoted Mr. Khamenei as appealing to opposition leaders for calm. State media also reported that Mr. Khamenei met with Mr. Mousavi late Sunday and urged him to pursue his allegations of voting irregularities through legal means. "Definitely, in this election, complaints should be followed through legal channels," Mr. Khamenei was quoted as saying after his meeting with Mr. Mousavi. State media said Mr. Khamenei asked the Guardian Council, the top supervisory board of senior clerics, to review Mr. Mousavi's allegations.

The 12-member council of clerics and scholars is required to approve elections, and technically has the power to nullify them, though it has never done so before. It is unclear how deeply the council would probe the vote, or what action it could take if it found irregularities.

But it appeared to represent new concern by Mr. Khamenei, who has final say on all matters of state. The supreme leader endorsed Mr. Ahmadinejad's landslide victory over the weekend, saying it was a "divine assessment." Since late Friday, when preliminary results first showed Mr. Ahmadinejad far ahead of his challengers, the regime appeared to back his victory with the full force of Iran's state media and security apparatus. State media trumpeted the apparent victory, hours before official results were announced.

Whether Mr. Ahmadinejad continues as president -- a point that some say is an open question if demonstrations persist -- his administration and the religious leaders who back it have been irreparably weakened, said Elliott Abrams, Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.

"These are the largest demonstrations since the fall of the Shah in 1979," Mr. Abrams said. For millions of Iranians, the result "has delegitimized this regime."

Police and Iran's Basij militia have deployed brutal force in the past two days, beating back crowds with batons and chains. On Sunday night, Basij militia raided the dormitory of Tehran University in the middle of the night beating students and ransacking their rooms. According to students, gunshot was exchanged and 15 students were seriously injured.

[Iran map]
Azadi Square: After a large protest at the square, gunmen fire on opposition protestors nearby, killing at least one person (Mon.)
Motahari Avenue: Three public buses are set afire (Sat.)
Tehran University: Protesters clash with police (Sun.)
Other events:
Hafteh Tir Square: Several hundred people march, shouting 'God is Great' (Sat.)
Mellat Park area: Pedestrian bridge set ablaze (Sun.)
Mohseni Square: Three buildings are burned down (Sun.)
Along Vali Asr Avenue: Burned campaign posters litter street. Trans bins set ablaze (Sun.)

At the march Monday, demonstrators called on the international community to pressure Iran and not accept Mr. Ahmadinejad's reelection. They held up handwritten placards in Farsi and English saying, "Where is my vote?" and "I wrote Mousavi, they read Ahmadinejad," and "The U.N. is responsible if it accepts the election result."

"I came because I want to make sure Iran is not viewed as a terrorist state and is run by a respected politician," said Sassan Behzadi, 47, a computer engineer from northern Tehran. "I knew that if I came I could make a difference."

A 23-year-old Ahmadinejad supporter near the gathering said she was sympathetic to the young Mousavi supporters. But said they should stop protesting to prevent more violence. "The government has chosen Ahmadinejad," she said. "There is no use fighting it and getting young people killed."
—Brenda Cronin contributed to this article.

Write to Farnaz Fassihi at farnaz.fassihi@wsj.com and Roshanak Taghavi at Roshanak.Taghavi@dowjones.com
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Re: Iranian Election Protests

Postby Wizard CaT » Tue Jun 16, 2009 5:17 pm

Some countries actually care about who gets elected.

FARNAZ FASSIHI wrote:TEHRAN -- Pro-government and opposition demonstrators poured into the streets of Iran's capital Tuesday for a fourth day of sometimes-violent rallies, as the country's religious leaders agreed to a partial recount of Friday's disputed presidential vote.

Amid the unrest, and more shooting by government-backed militia, authorities arrested prominent opposition leaders and clamped down on media covering the crisis. The demonstrations came hours after state media reported the top religious oversight council would examine Friday's vote, which saw President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad trounce opposition candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi and two other challengers.

The plan by the Guardian Council for a targeted recount -- aimed at specific voting sites where fraud was alleged -- is the first direct action by authorities to address claims of irregularities by rivals of Mr. Ahmadinejad. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the final say on state matters, said Monday he asked the Guardian Council to look into those allegations.

Such a recount appears to be unprecedented, and it wasn't immediately clear when it would begin, or how many voting sites would be included.

Mr. Mousavi and the other two candidates announced the recount wouldn't be acceptable to them. Representatives of the three candidates had met with the spokesperson of the Guardian Council on Tuesday morning and asked that the results be annulled and new elections be held. Alternatively, they asked that an independent committee, made of up of clerics, lawmakers and experts, review the charges of vote rigging.

"After these elections the public no longer trusts the Interior Ministry or the Guardian Council, therefore they can't trust their vote recounts, either," said cleric Ali Akbar Mohtashamipour, a spokesman for Mr. Mousavi's camp.

Mr. Khamenei called for national unity, and was quoted on state television saying, "In the elections, voters had different tendencies, but they equally believe in the ruling system and support the Islamic Republic."
Iran Election

Tens of thousands of supporters of Mr. Mousavi marched peacefully along Vali Asr Street on Tuesday, holding up his picture, according to eyewitnesses. A few miles away, crowds loyal to Mr. Ahmadinejad celebrated his announced election victory, waving Iranian flags and holding pictures of Mr. Khamenei. Mr. Ahmadinejad, in his first foreign trip since the vote, arrived in Yekaterinburg, Russia, for the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit of emerging nations.

The rallies in Tehran were mostly calm, following Monday's protest that left seven people dead. On Sunday, five students at Tehran University were reported killed, though that figure hasn't been confirmed by state media.

On Tuesday, the two sides kept their distance from one another and the uniformed security forces stood at the sides of the rallies. Many opposition demonstrators said they had come out despite a government ban and warnings by Mr. Mousavi to avoid confrontation after Monday's bloody rally, to show they won't give in to pressure.

"Now that our movement has started, it must continue. If they kill us, we will get more resolved," said Mohamad Reza, a 24-year-old textile seller in Tehran's Grand Bazaar. He said many shops had shut down Tuesday in solidarity with the protesters and others had closed early, allowing workers to come out to the streets. "They just want Mousavi because he told them he will give them freedom," said one Ahmadinejad supporter.

Late Tuesday, fresh violence erupted. As thousands gathered in and around Vanak Square, located in Northern Tehran and the site of bloody rallies the previous nights, a group of plain-clothes militia dressed in black and riding motorcycles approached the crowd.

They waved their batons in the air as protesters yelled for help and many people standing on the sidewalks began running away. Suddenly, the militia opened fire at the crowd and shot a young man in the neck.

Blood gushed out of his wound as he pressed his palms on his neck and color drained from his face. A young man and woman grabbed his arms and dragged him to a side street along with about a dozen young protesters. An apartment door was open and the fleeing crowd was forcing their way inside.

"He's been shot, he's been shot. Help. Help," screamed one man. The injured young man couldn't speak. His mouth kept opening but no words came out.

A clinic on the first-floor of the building had only one nurse on hand. She grabbed some alcohol and laid the man down on one of the beds. Someone tried to call an ambulance but the cellphone lines were dead. The young man was bleeding heavily and the nurse warned if he wasn't taken to an emergency room within two hours, he would die. No one knew the young man's name. Several women sobbed quietly. One man held his face in his hands.

"Why? What did he do? What was his crime? Your life ends here, just like that," said one young man.

One man decided to brave the fighting outside and walk to a nearby hospital and get an ambulance. After the injured man was taken away in the ambulance, rage broke out on Vali Asr Avenue. The militia were surrounded by protesters and kicked off their bikes. The bikes were set ablaze. It wasn't clear what had happened to the militia.

The day of protests in Tehran coincided with a widening crackdown on opposition leaders and increased restrictions on foreign and local media. Two of the reform movement's leading faces were arrested, including Mohammad Ali Abtahi, vice president during the reform years of 1997 to 2005, who ran a daily blog that served as a key information source during this year's election and its aftermath. Saeed Hajjarian, a former journalist who is severely disabled after an assassination attempt for revealing a string of political murders, was also arrested.

The Ministry of Information and Guidance faxed a statement to bureaus and representatives of foreign media in the capital informing them that their press credentials weren't valid for conducting interviews outside their offices, and banned covering any public gathering that didn't have a permit from the government. Foreign correspondents who were in Iran to cover the elections were informed earlier in the week that their visas wouldn't be renewed. Ten Iranian journalists have been arrested this week, according to the Associated Press.

Iran's state media and news Web sites affiliated with Mr. Ahmadinejad, along with Mr. Ahmadinejad himself, have blamed foreign media for the recent unrest in Iran. As the public uprising has intensified, so has the government's attempt to control the flow of information. Internet speed is reduced, cellphone service is interrupted every evening and text messaging is blocked.

—Roshanak Taghavi contributed to this article.

Write to Farnaz Fassihi at farnaz.fassihi@wsj.com
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Re: Iranian Election Protests

Postby RaharuAharu » Sun Jun 21, 2009 4:38 pm

Massive Update

http://www.fark.com/cgi/comments.pl?IDLink=4461931

The most recent news will be posted at the top, and then moved to the timeline as events on the ground happen.

From the 19th to the 20th of June. post-Khamenei speech.

If anyone doubted this is a Revolution and that this was bigger than the election, there is no such doubt anymore. While Khameini directly called for them to stop, the population took the street more numerous than ever. This is direct defiance to the Supreme Leader. Here are the major events that happened between the end of Khamenei's speech and midnight on Saturday.

- Before the protest even began, heavily armed men were waiting for the dissidents, planning to prevent them from reaching the rally point. It didn't take long for the peaceful protests to turn into full-fledged riots. Security forces had also closed off the Tehran university to prevent students from leaving to protest or entering to take shelter. Basij, some security forces and what is suspected to be members of the Revolutionary Guard assaulted the protesters. The protesters fought back while chanting "Death to Khamenei" and "Down with Khamenei". The security forces used water cannons and tear gas to try and disperse the protesters. While the tear gas was partly successful, the water cannons were mostly useless, as they were quickly over ran by the protesters.

- A lot of eyewitnesses report that the Basij now fighting appear to be barely older than teenagers, most of them between 16 and 20, taking a real pleasure in the violence. Others report that up to hundreds of both security forces and Basij were injured in the last series of clashes. The Basij forces are using pvc tubes filled with concretes, bats, even knives and are assaulting people everywhere, down to metro stations.

- A bomb exploded at the Khomeini Shrine, killing one and injuring at least two. Most believe that the government is in fact behind it. Khamenei was a major figure of the previous Revolution, and they used a similar tactics then, destroying buildings and blaming it on the Shah in order to turn the population against him. The State television is of course blaming Mousavi for it and calling for a harsher treatment of the protesters. This is also very convenient for the Regime, has Mousavi said he would take refuge there if he feared for his safety, but now all access is blocked.

- In return, the harsher the treatment of protesters by the security forces, the harsher the rhetoric and reaction of the protesters. They are calling for the death of the regime, the death of Khomeini, the death of their oppressors and that they will avenge them. Once the gun shots started, the protesters went wild, beating down security forces and basij forces they caught to a pulp, while the Basij and security forces are showing absolutely no restraint, even less than they previously had.

- There are many reports that the security forces and Basij still ever present in hospitals and clinics. Basij are kidnapping some of those injured, while the security forces is identifying those participating in the protest. In order to arrest protesters, security forces raided the Khomeini Hospital in order to arrest injured protesters. There are rumours that Basij forces have hijacked ambulances and use them as a trap to brutally assault already injured protesters seeking help, or shoot at them. Iranian journalists, Reformist intellectuals and feminists are still being arrested and rounded up to prevent from reporting the news or reaching out.

- As the protests grew, extreme measures started to used by those trying to repress the Iranians asking for freedom. Gun shots were first fired in the air, but it did not take long for them to be fired at the protesters. A liquid was dropped from helicopters, creating severe skin burns on protesters. We are unsure what the liquid was. They are also openly opening fire on the crows, 40 to 60 people at least were killed in a single day, and scores more injured according to protesters. There are also reports that Revolutionary Guard Helicopters dropped firearms crates to 500 Basij fighters, as they are more willing than government forces to use them on civilians.

- The protesters are fighting back, taking over anti-riot trucks and burning them, attacking Basij bases and burning another one to the ground. There are report that a security forces truck was actually blown up by the protesters. In many instances, government forces have been force to fled under the constant assault of the people. Another report mentioned a security forces post was burning as well.

- The Iran Fatemiyeh Hospital in Tehran has confirmed at least 40 dead as well as 200 injured. Other sources report that hundreds of security forces and hundreds of basij fighters were injured as well.

- At night the protesters joined each others on the roofs in Tehran, shouting "Allah-u Ackbar", "Margh Bar Khamenei" and chanting "I will welcome death, I will welcome death, but no subjugation, but no subjugation". None of the rhetoric is addressed to Ahmadinejad anymore, all of it is directed to Khamenei and the regime. Many of the popular chants throughout the day were "I will kill those who killed my brother/sister", "Death to the Government", "Death to Khomeini" and "Seyed Ali Pinoshe, Iran won't be Chile".

- China has been censoring all news coming from Iran. Obama's restraint has been useless, as the Iranian government has shown a video of him with a false translation where Obama declared his support for the protesters, and that they should keep on protesting.

- Mousavi gave a speech and declared that if he is arrested, then the whole nation should strike. He also told the people that he is ready for martyrdom.

- There are unconfirmed reports that the Army is now refusing to follow orders and will not attack the protesters. The newest strategy from the government seems to be arming the Basij, dressing them in riot gear, team them up with IRG soldiers, and try to prevent massive rallies and keep them localized instead, as they are easier to stop spreading.


Timeline
note: I built this through both articles and twitter feeds, so I do not claim that this is a 100% factually correct representation of reality, but this is the general narrative.

12th and 13th of June - The election & irregularities.

Unlike the 2005 election, which was a low point of Iranian elections in term of participation, the 2009 election in fact produced a record turnout, the youth mobilized behind the two Reformist candidates. Polls in Iran are notoriously irrelevant and generally give the lead to whoever the pollsters support. All throughout the campaign, the Iranian media gave the lead to Ahmadinejad, while the polls from Reformists gave the lead The Iranian infrastructure was not ready to accommodate the number of voters, so the polling hours ended up being extended until midnight.

The ballots were supposedly counted, while the Interior Ministry building went into lockdown. The man currently in charge of the Interior Ministry was put in place by Ahmadinejad. More than 40 million votes were cast, yet they supposedly were all counted within three hours, and against all expectations not only did Ahmadinejad win, but won in a landslide. The official results given were:

Ahmadinejad - 62.63%
Mousavi - 33.75%
Rezaee - 1.73%
Karroubi - 0.85%

At this point, well into the night, spontaneous peaceful protests started to take place all over Tehran and major cities of Iran, contesting the results of the election. At first a few European countries congratulated Ahmadinejad, but quickly backtracked and expressed concerns over claims of irregularities.

As of the 21st of June, the only major countries who have officially and openly accepted the results are China, Russia, North Korea, Syria, Lebanon, Venezuela and Brazil.

14th of June

Obviously, this timeline will not be as exhaustive and complete as it will be in an update or two, as I have somewhere around 50-60 articles to go through. This will be the best I can do to be accurate on such a short period of time.

14th of June - While the previous day had been witness to some protests, they were for the most part peaceful. However, as time grew the protests turned more and more violent. When the first spontaneous riots erupted, the first wave of violence was unleashed. The Iranian Riot security forces was called in to support the regular security forces officers controlling the protests, and shortly after the Basij also took the scene, moving from a passive to active role of repression. The RP concentrated mostly around public buildings and streets while the Basij took position around student groups, especially universities.

- As things got more out of hand, more and more Basij troops were called in, as the security forces started dispersing. The riot security forces are less inclined (or, rather I should say the Basij are more inclined) to use violence so they retreated and leaving the place to the Basij. The repressive forces concentrated their assault mostly around the main Iranian universities, while the riot security forces were concentrating on protecting various government buildings such as the Interior Ministry. At least two people had been killed already.

- On the telecommunication front, this is when we started to hear more and more from twitters while videos were being freely updated to youtube (while youtube started to delete the more violent ones a few hours later). This is also the moment where the government realized what was happening, and ordered for the internet, phone lines and cellphones to be cut off, in order to avoid people communicating with the outside world.

late 14th, early 15th of June - This is the second wave of violent repression. At this point, violent riots had spread all over the main cities of Iran. The violence against citizens was not only the fruit of the Basij anymore, but also came from Ansar Hizbullah members. This is the point where firearms started being used. There were reports of a few murders but it was mostly fired in the air or on walls in order to scare away protesters in University dorms. It's also around the same time that the first reports and videos of an important number of non-Persian thugs shouting in Arabic and violently beating people with chains, clubs and electric batons (similar to cattle prods), which led to many speculating that lebanese Hizbullah members were now in Iran. Der Spiegel, through Voice of America, later claimed that 5000 Hizbullah fighters were passing off as Riot security forces, validating the claims of many independent sources and twitter feeds.

- Universities have been the hotbed of protests, serving as a hub of anti-government demonstrations and preparations. 120 teachers from the Sharid University resigned in protest over the election results. Perfectly away of this, the Basij, Ansar and possibly Hizbullah members concentrated their attacks on University Dorms all over the country, storming them and beating students, destroying everything, especially computers.

- The end of the second wave came right before the beginning of the current manifestation. Things were getting quieter with only sporadic reports of dissenters being assaulted. Important to note: at this time. The Supreme Leader authorized the plainclothes militias to use live ammunition against the crowd if things were to get out of hands. By the end of the first two waves of protests, hundreds of people had been arrested.

midday, 15th of June - This brings us to the third wave, which just began around 12:30PM for those of us on the East Coast. Plainclothes militia opened fire on civilians protesting peacefully. Possibly up to 2 million protesters took the street. Chaos erupted in the streets, with reports of fighting all over Tehran and spreading over Iran as the news circulated. Pictures of people shot, some to death, finally surfaced and were published in the mainstream media. Violent and murderous repression has started. At least a twenty people had been killed at this by the end of the 15th of June.

- There is a major national crackdown on students, especially those with connections to the outside world going on right now. Students are fighting back in some areas. Telephones are being bugged and everyone twittering and sending videos outside of Iran are being rounded up. ISPs were shut down, government hackers are threatening people who twitter, and some of them have vanished in the last 24 hours.

- Eventually, the people started to fight back. First, they took over and burned down a Basij base, killing its commander. Later, a Basij shot a young man in the face in front of their HQ, at which point a policeman went to confront them. The Basij beat the police man, at which point students stormed the compound, throwing Molotov cocktails, burning it to the ground.

- During the night, the security forces entered certain neighbourhood to arrest public servants and force them to appear at tomorrow's pro-Ahmadinejad manifestation, but the people went out in the street and forced them out of their neighbourhoods. The Basij have kept on storming dorms. So far the reports are conflicting, but it appears that the death toll could be as high as 40 for the protesters, with two dead on the side of the repressive militias. This is the end of the third wave.

early 16th of June - Supporters of Mousavi have a manifestation planned for 5pm, Tehran time. Roughly the same number or more is expected to attend. People are dressed in black and told to protest silently.

- The pro-Ahmadinejad crowd however are planning a counter-demonstration at the very same place the supporters are supposed to gather at 3pm. Most agree that basically they are simply going to gather for a confrontation. Rumours are that they are taking position in buildings next to the parade and in bunkers to attack. Basij from all over the country are moving to Tehran and supporters are being bused from all over the country. A major showdown is expected to unfold.

- The crackdown on people using telecommunication is as strong as ever. Anyone with a laptop, camera or cellphone is attacked in the street by plainclothes militias. Tehran hotels are under lockdown to prevent the members of the foreign press still in Iran from reporting what is happening.

- As for the Iranian Government and different branches, there are rumours that many Army Generals have been arrested for plotting a Coup d'...tat, but this is still speculation at this point. The Supreme Leader has also called for a 10-day inquiry into the claims of fraud, but it has been widely dismissed as cosmetic. Mousavi and his supporters have rejected this, claiming that they want new elections. Khamenei is now using the armed Basij as his own bodyguards, hundreds of them are surround him and his residence to protect from attempted assassinations. Ahmadinejad himself is in Russia right now, for a planned visit, and tries to pretend that everything is good as usual.

midday 16th of June to early 17th of June - The fourth wave of violence has started, and was expected to flare up very soon. It surprisingly was quite mild. Pro-Mousavi supporters said that there were even more people today protesting against the regime, though raw numbers are hard to get. If this is true, it means there are more than 2M protesters in the street right now. They are dressed in black and protesting silently and without violence so far. Other reports that only 250,000 were in the street, possibly scared by the Basij and propaganda.

- The Basij, surprisingly, did not attacking the march itself but rather assaulted dorms again. It looks like they are using the march as a diversion. In Tehran proper, 2000 Basij are waiting to storm the male dorm, and they are backed by IRG helicopters, which seems to send the message that the IRG has broken from their undeclared neutrality toward tacitly supporting the Regime.

- The crackdown on telecommunications is starting to suffocate all of Iran. As of now:

* Gmail, GTalk, Yahoo, Aim and ICQ are shut down
* Phone lines, cellphones and SMS are down most of the time
* HTTPS and other such protocols are down most of the time, so are ISPs
* They are trying very hard to close down the Iranian connexion to twitter and giving proxies they control in order to track down people

People are also receiving phone calls from the government saying "We know you were in the protests".

- Night fell on Iran, and the Basij were roaming, attacking those passing by at random. They had also surrounded dorms and stormed them once again.

17th of June - With the end of the fourth wave of violence, we have been in a wait and see mode. As of right now, there are many rumors involving clerics and Ayatollahs meeting in the Holy Shiite city of Qom and planning to overthrow Khamenei, as well as reports that some in the Army plotting to overthrow the government, semi-confirmations from credible twitterers, but nothing concrete or substantiated so far. These would be extremely big development, so it's better to treat them with caution.

- Nothing much has happened on this day aside of that. There was another mostly peaceful march, with around 500,000 protesters in the street. The Basij and others are still roaming around and beating on the population, as well as dressing in green, destroying buildings and trying to pin the blame on the protesters in order to make them look like a bunch of thugs.

- There have been more than a hundred people arrested in their hospital beds and taken to prison. The number of prisoners right now is estimated between 1,000 and 10,000; possibly more. The Basij are now laying traps into hospitals themselves, trying to snatch up protesters there. There are also reports that they are taking dead bodies before they are identified, stuffing them in vans and leaving to undisclosed locations. Doctors have been setting up outside clinics and fighting back in order to stop the Basij from doing what they do.

18th of June - The protests show no signs of slowing down, and the fact that the government has been less violent so far and concentrating on discrediting the protesters instead shows that they are losing grip and painfully aware of all the attention given to what is happening right now, CNN notwithstanding. It's also a worrying step, because the moment they start feeling they are losing grip even more is the moment where they might begin to unleash brutal waves of violence again, much worse than what we've seen so far.

- Iran Human Rights reports that today alone hundreds of members of the opposition and known Reformists have been arrested, some of them tortured in the basements of government buildings.

- There is a (so far) quiet march going on, where all the protesters are dressed in black and mourning those who have died so far. The crowds are estimated to be as big as they have been for the last few days, so that puts them between 1,000,000 and 2,000,000 in Tehran alone.

- Khamenei has agreed to a recount of 600 out of the thousands of ballot boxes, but this has been rejected by the opposition, who says that these elections are to be declared null and void, and that new elections have to be rescheduled. Khamenei in return rejected this. There are reports that Mousavi went as far as saying that Khamenei does not have authority to preside over the state of Iran anymore.

- As a sign of growing tension in the governmental apparatus, fist-fights were said to have broken out in Parliament over who to support, but it seems that the Parliament will ultimately back Ahmadinejad and Khamenei to the end. The Interior Ministry has ordered a security forces investigation into the massacre of 7 civilians by a Basij firing in a crowd. There are also reports of security forces officers deserting their posts and joining the protesters, while others use their position in the security forces force as a way to warn protesters from incoming arrests or crack downs. The army is still silent. There are reports that the man who leaked results of the election giving Mousavi winner and Ahmadinejad as losing in third position has been killed in a car "accident".

- The State TV has been turned into a full-blown anti-Revolution machine, constantly hammering on how evil the "thugs" who are smashing around private property are. Problem is that those thugs are in fact Basij dressed in green, but IRIB is reporting it as pro-Mousavi supporters. They have also been showing documentaries about the evils of the internet and how the US, UK and Israel are behind the protests. State Radio is not much better, with talking heads calling for the death of those evil thugs destabilizing the country at the behest of external forces. They have also issued false reports that Mousavi was "condemning the rioters".

- The Government has closed Iran to all foreign communication and coverage, according to many reports. It would also seem that the Iranian government has opened an account in the name of Ayatollah Khamenei on Twitter. There are reports that senior aides to all reformist candidates have been arrested, but it has yet to be corroborated and this is not the first time we hear such reports.

- According to Reuters, Iranian prosecutors have warned of the death penalty for the rioters who are involved in violence. Islamic cleric have warned that not going to Friday's prayer service makes you worthy of the death penalty. It is unclear yet what isn't worthy of death penalty at this point if you protest against the regime.

- All the violence reported over Iran is now exclusively done by the Basij, Ansar and, if the rumours are true, Hizbullah and Hamas. The security forces have completely stopped participating in the repression of the population, and both the Army and IRG are standing still and not doing anything. This is good news, but the Basij are sadly not reducing the level of violence they are unleashing on the population, beating up everyone they can get their hands on. It continued all throughout the night and during the day, but due to the mass of people involved it seems that they are restraining themselves when it comes to the mass rallies, preferring to pick isolated targets.

- Universities have cancelled all exams all over the country, and a long list of rebel students was given to all universities and they have to report the students, who are to be arrested on sight.

- There have been a few confirmed cases of people threatened inside the United States for providing proxies for the revolution. Their details were available on the internet so they were passed around pro-Government forces. If you are helping this revolution, be careful to do so as anonymously as you can. It doesn't mean you are risking your life, but it could potentially result in harassment or vandalism.

19th of June - Supreme Leader Khamenei called for Friday Prayers where he was present and delivered the sermons. Reformist leaders and their supporters boycotted it. Supporters of Khamenei flooded Tehran from all corners of Iran on Friday, and big post-speech clashes are expected during the night and tomorrow.

- Iranian prosecutors have warned protesters that violence might be punished with the death penalty, according to Reuters. As the Basij, they are cracking down on the population as ever, roaming the streets, vandalizing both pro and anti-Mousavi targets while pretending to be pro-Mousavi forces and trying to crack down on all dissenters.

- In other news, things are going from bad to worse for the Basij and they are starting not only to lose ground, but to fear for their safety. There are many reports that most Basij forces are now hiding their identities with masks for fear of reprisal. There are websites being created featuring images and often identities of Basij who have been violently repressing students, calling for actin to be taken against those men. Now the youth has started to hunt Basij as well. In their own neighbourhoods, where they know each others, they are now laying trap to known basij members, using side streets and houses to attack. They strike, and then they hide, only to regroup further, launch another attack and disperse again. Every house is unlocked and they have the tacit support of the population while no help helps the Basij. This might explain why the IRG has been called to take a more active role in the future.

The revolution lives on. Long live the revolution!


Tatsuma [TotalFark] 2009-06-21 03:42:07 PM
Events are unfolding extremely quickly, I will now separate the timeline and background information in two posts. I will keep the background entries short, but substantial enough so it gives a clear understanding of the different players involved, and will focus the lengthier entries on events unfolding as we speak, or those directly involved with said events.

If you want to link this, here is the website, updated as the situation changes:
https://sites.google.com/site/tatsumairanupdate/

And now, some Background Information


The Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran

- The legislative branch of the Iranian is threefold. There is the Parliament, the Expediency Discernment Council of the System and the Guardian Council, which reigns Supreme, although it is itself under review of the Assembly of Experts, which itself does not intervene in politics.

Majlis

- The Majlis is the Iranian Parliament, with a body of 290 members (5 of them representing the non-Muslim minorities). Members are voted in for terms of 4 years. While the members of the Majlis may appear to benefit from a certain leeway, and can introduce new legislation, each and every member or legislation has to first be approved by the Guardian Council. Reformists and other dissidents have often remarked that the electoral process in the Majlis is in fact nothing more than a theater, where Ayatollahs decide who is permitted to hold seats, and what laws they are permitted to vote for.

President

- Presidency is Iran is the highest position that is elected through popular vote, but not far from the most important in terms of power. As for possible candidates for positions in the Majlis, in order to run for Presidential election one must first be accepted as a candidate by the Guardian Council. Criteria for selection include religious observance and loyalty to the principles of the Islamic Revolution. While the President technically has the power to sign treaties with other countries, appoint ministers and many other Presidential functions, reality is that anything other than a minor decision is usually reviewed by the Guardian Council first. He also has no authority on the armed forces, nuclear program and the general lines of domestic and foreign policies.


Expediency Discernment Council of the System

- Although officially created as a mediator between the Guardian Council and the Majlis, the EDC finds itself to be nothing more than unofficial right arm of the Supreme Leader. It is composed of 34 members, the vast majority issued from the very conservative parties. Unlike the Majlis, however, it also has the authority to enact temporary laws for a duration of 3 years, by-passing the authority or oversight of the Majlis.


Guardian Council

- The Guardian Council is the real seat of Power in Iran. The 12 members of this Council are decided by the Supreme Leader, who controls the Council. 6 of them are clerics that the Supreme Leader handpicks, while the six other members are lawyers submitted by the head of the Judiciary system, himself appointed by the Supreme Leader. The Guardian Council is not only the highest political authority, but it is also the Religious authority in Iran, and considered the Guardian of the Revolution, thus its name. The Council plays a very important role in keeping what it consider the right Islamic system in place for Iran, but it also controls its political activities. While the Council itself does not submitted bills, it controls the political life in Iran through the policies of the Majlis it allows or refuses to come to fruition, or asks the EDC to pass certain laws. Another way it exerts its influence on the political process is by being able to reject or accept any candidate for elections, whether parliamentary or presidential.

Supreme Leader

- The Supreme Leader is considered the Leader of the Revolution, his position enshrined in the Iranian Constitution. He is elected to the position by the Assembly of Experts, a religious council. The title is not mere rhetoric; he is the all-powerful ruler of the Republic, who appoints everyone from commanders of the Army to heads of state-controlled Media, from Judges to who is permitted to run for office, and everyone important in-between. He is also the Religious leader of Iran, and as such decides the appointments of clerics in various organizations and mosques. He controls the domestic and foreign affairs of Iran through the Guardian Council and EDC, as well as the armed forces.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei

- The current Supreme Leader is Ayatollah Khamenei, successor of Ayatollah Khomeini. He was not originally slated to be replacement of Khomeini, but the first candidate for succession had a falling-out with Khomeini over the violent repression of student revolts and was dismissed and Khamenei stepped in. He has been the Supreme Leader of Iran since 1989, when the previous and first Supreme Leader died. He had been a key player during the 1979 Revolution, then became President of Iran from 1981 until his ascension as Supreme Leader. He is considered a very conservative figure and a close confident of the previous Supreme Leader, but was not considered for succession until Grand Ayatollah Montazeri, a rather liberal cleric, criticized the government for the torture and repression of students and lost his place in succession.


Assembly of Experts

- The Assembly of Experts is a body composed of 86 Islamic jurists specialized in the interpretation and application of Sharia, Islamic law. In order to qualify as a possible candidate, one must be known as a devout Muslim and a scholar, someone who believes in upholding the Islamic Revolution and agreed upon by the Government. Then, they are elected by public vote for 8 years terms. They have the power to elect and remove the Supreme Leader.

Ayatollah Rafsanjani

- Ayatollah Rafsanjani is the current head of the Assembly of Expert. He took over the Presidency from Khamenei in 1989, and stayed in office until 1997. He is seen as a conservative, but relatively moderate and centrist figure, fiercely opposed to Ahmadinejad's behavior and he is known as a critic of current Supreme Leader Khamenei. He supports opening the relations with the United States completely, as well as agreeing to the United States' demands regarding the Iranian nuclear program, and a free-market approach to the economy.


The 2009 Iranian election

The President in Iran is elected through direct vote. The last election was won in 2005 by candidate Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, amidst claims of irregularities and possible vote tampering by the opposition, but no major protests, complaints or actions were taken. Four years later, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad presented himself in order to retain his position and won in an unlikely landslide on the 13th of July in an election with record participation. The deadline was in fact pushed back in order to allow everyone to vote. Due to many factors that will be elaborated later, the Reformist candidates protested at the news of his victory and the population started protesting while the police and government-backed militias tried to quell the protests.

The Candidates

Conservative candidates:

- Ahmadinejad, President of Iran from 2004-2009, was declared winner of elections panned by almost all as fraudulent. Advocates a belligerent attitude toward the West, he has been widely seen as a disappointment and downright failure in Iran due to his inability to rectify economical problems, and lack of accomplishments. He originates from a rural, strongly religious working-class background, a background he shares with the bulk of his domestic supporters. He was accused of bribery during the race. He previously occupied the position of governor and mayor of Tehran. He his known as close to Khamenei and his favorite in the race.

- Rezaee was the chief commander of the Revolutionary Guard for more than 15 years. He then became a teacher of Economics. He is described as conservative, but more pragmatic than Ahmadinejad, and condemned Ahmadinejad's comments on the Holocaust and Israel as having no benefits and only drawbacks. He is currently on the wanted list of Interpol as the planning the attack on the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires in 1992, as well as the 1994 suicide bombing against a Jewish cultural center in Argentina that killed 85, and injured hundreds.

Reformist candidates

- Mousavi is widely believed to have won this election. He is a Reformist voice, very close to former President Khatami. He was previously the fifth and last Prime Minister of Iran. Due to his central role in the current revolution and Iran's possible future, I am preparing a major profile and will update this in the next update or two

- Karroubi is a centrist figure, on the side of the Reformists but at the same time still very loyal to the Islamic Revolution, especially Khomeini's ideals. His views mostly resonates in rural areas, where he picks up most of the votes that do not go to Ahmadinejad. He has been a constant critic of Ayatollah Rafsanjani and his free-market policies, which he sees as possibly harmful to the bulk of his supporters. He is extremely vocal about his support for the rights of women and minorities, and he believes that all Iranian citizens should be completely equal.

Khamenei's landmark speech

A relatively large crowd was present to hear Khamenei declared during the prayers, while Reformist leaders called on their supporters to stay home. It was very easy to notice that this crowd was also much older than those we have seen protesting.

There were two sermons, a religious one and a political one.
- The religious sermon itself was rather short and stayed on topic. It concentrated at first on peace and tranquility, leading into the fact that the Revolution was the Will of Allah, that it was sacred and its goals were the goals of Allah. He continued by asking Allah victory over their common enemies, and that people who went against the Revolution were enemies of Allah.

- The political speech was much longer and disjointed. He started by thanking everyone for the election, then he proceeded to blame the West, claimed that Iran was one of the most democratic country on Earth and that the results were not rigged. He claimed that while yes, there is some corruption in Iran, it's nowhere near the UK MP expenses scandal. He then directly threatened the pro-Reformists leaders, saying that all the violence will be their responsibility. This is all the works of Zionist spies and British radio, and Hillary Clinton was responsible for Waco so Iran is better than America and the West.

There are three major statements to be gleaned from these speech, with further confirmation of a fourth. However boring and long-winded it might have been to the Western ear, it was a major milestone of this revolution, and its implications are far-reaching:

1 - His declaration that the Islamic Revolution sacred, that its goals were the goals of Allah and that those who went against it were the enemies of Allah. He then asked Allah victory over the enemies.

This is major. He has in fact painted the entire reformist movement as being anti-Islamic. Due to his position, and the tone that he adopted, this is basically a death sentence delivered to those who will keep on protesting. Not unexpected, but a bold move nonetheless.

2 - He fully supports Ahmadinejad.

This is not a surprise, but he did not back down one inch. He does not give credibility to any of the Reformist claims, and says to either toe the line, or suffer the consequences.

3 - He has put the responsibility of violence on the shoulders of the Reformist leaders, and openly declared that he is not going to tolerate it anymore.

This means that the repression from now on will be much more violent, and has more or less openly threatened the leaders of the Revolution that they will pay with their lives if they continue.

4 - As confirmed by Stratfor, the Revolutionary Guard has taken over from the police in all matters of domestic law and order. This effectively means that they are going to start crushing dissent as well, and that they have allied themselves to the regime.

Out of all major developments, this is the biggest one. Will the army stay Neutral, toe the line or side with the Reformists?

Suppression of Dissent - The Players

Currently, there are two or three, maybe four, groups who are suppressing the students on the ground that you'll read about throughout this thread:


1. The Basij
2. Ansar Hizbullah (which I will refer to as Ansar)
3. Lebanese Hizbullah (Unconfirmed rumour but either a probable or a persistent one. Der Spiegel, based on a Voice of America report, says that 5,000 Hizbullah fighters are currently in Iran masquerading as riot police, confirming the independent reports. Iran Press News has posted two photographs of men they claim are Hizbullah and Hamas mercenaries. Many different independent reports and video point that way. Even in the last days other independent twitter feeds have declared witnessing thugs beating on people while shouting in Arabic; I will refer to them as Hizbullah)
4. Lebanese Hamas (unconfirmed and doubtful. This rumour has been cropping up, with some of the most twitter feeds saying they had visual confirmation of Lebanese Hamas fighters along with Lebanese Hizbullah member. You should definitely take with a grain of salt, but it has been mentioned often enough, by sources generally always right, that it deserves of a mention here. Iran Press TV also claims to have posted a picture of Hamas mercenaries. I will refer to them as Hamas)

- The Basij are your regular paramilitary organization. They are the armed hand of the clerics. The Basij are a legal group, officially a student union, and are legally under direct orders of the Revolutionary Guard. Their main raison d'être is to quell dissent. They are the ones who go and crack skulls, force people to participate in pro-regime demonstrations, and generally try to stop any demonstrations from even starting. They are located throughout the country, in every mosque, every university, every social club you can think of. They function in a way very similar to the brownshirts.

They were the ones who first started the crackdown after the election, but it wasn't enough. While they are violent and repressive, they are still Persian and attacking fellow citizens. A beating is one thing, mass killings another.

- Another group was working with them, whose members are even more extreme, is Ansar. There is a lot of cross-membership between the Basij and Ansar, though not all are members of the other group and vice-versa. The vast majority of Ansar are Persians (either Basij or ex-military), though a lot of Arab recruits come from Lebanon and train with them under supervision of the Revolutionary Guard. They are not functioning under a legal umbrella, they are considered a vigilante group, but they pledge loyalty directly to the Supreme Leader and most people believe that they are under his control. They are currently helping the Basij to control the riots, but due to the fact that they are Persians and in lower numbers than the Basij, they are not that active.

- The Lebanese Hizbullah is a direct offshoot (and under direct control) of the Iranian Hizbullah (itself under direct control of the Supreme Leader) and cooperates closely with Ansar though Ansar occupies itself only with Iran's domestic policies, while Hizbullah occupies itself only with Iran's foreign policy unless there is a crisis like right now. However, Hizbullah has been called to stop violent riots in Iran in the past.

(The following paragraph includes some speculation based on reports from ground zero, it is no confirmed, this is what was reported early on by various twitter feeds considered credible, so do not take this as anything but unconfirmed rumours) Hizbullah flew in a lot of their members in Iran, most likely a good deal even before the elections in case there were trouble. They are the ones who speak Arabs and are unleashing the biggest level of violence on the Persians so far. Another wave arrived recently and there is chatter that yet another wave of Hizbullah reinforcements are coming in from Lebanon as we speak. According to Iranians on the ground, they are the ones riding motorcycles, beating men women and children indiscriminately and firing live ammunitions at students.

- The Lebanese Hamas is a branch of Hamas set-up in Lebanon. Like Hamas in Gaza, Hamas in Lebanon is directly under the orders of the Hamas council of Damascus known as Majlis al-Shurah. While it is surprising to hear that they might be involved, and as I said take these reports with a grain of salt until we get more confirmations, it is not illogical either. Iran has become the main benefactor of Hamas in the last years, branching out from only supporting Islamic Jihad. They now provide Hamas with the bulk of their budget, with advanced weaponry and training by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. Not only does Hamas own them a lot, but if the Republic falls, Hamas finds itself in dire trouble. It is very likely that, at the call of Iran, the Majlis al-Shura would have decided to send fighters from their Lebanese Hamas branch along with Hizbullah fighters if it was requested of them.

Other Players

The Police - Iran's police force is not dissimilar to your run-of-the-mill law enforcement apparatus in other dictatorships, with the difference that they are not generally as brutal and repressive. This is because the Basij are generally in charge of these activities, meaning that Iranian policemen generally concentrate more on the law and order aspect of Iranian daily life.

Today, it is thought that the Iranian police numbers close to 60,000 members, in contrast with up to a million Basij members. This is one of the reasons why we hear much more about the plainclothes militia than we do about the police right now, the other being that the Basij and Ansar are much more willing to violently assault their fellow citizens than even the regular police force. This is not as much a testament to the decency of your average police officers as much as a damning report of what the Basij and Ansar thugs are like.

There are also subdivisions and extra-legal forces attached to the police force. The major subdivision would be the riot police (So-called Unit 110) who are actually much more violent than regular police officers, but also in much, much smaller numbers. There is also VEVAK, the secret police. Very little is known and confirmed about them, except their extreme tactics include murder, kidnapping and torture.

The Army

In Iran, there are actually two armies. They are divided between Artesh and Pasdaran.

Artesh is the regular Military apparatus of the Republic. Their numbers, including reservists, go up to a million members, but only half of them have received anything more than very basic training. As it is often the case in police states, there is very little known and confirmed about the structure of the Army itself.

They were created prior to the Iranian Revolution, in fact this army has existed in one form or another, and is a continuation, for more than 2,500 years. This is not as impressive as it sounds, however, as they often underwent drastic changes, there is no real links between the current incarnations, and the top echelons were most often purged when new rulers took power. In fact, in the last 100 years, those purges happened between two or three times, depending on the count, the last time centered around the time of the Islamic revolution, when most generals were forced to flee, killed, or killed while in exile.

Artesh took the brunt of the military casualties during the Iran-Iraq war, the army is considered to very nationalist and not extremely religious, which explains why they have declared their neutrality and refusal to repress the situation, as they see their purpose to defend the Iranian population.

Everyone agrees they will be the ultimate key to this Revolution when they finally decide to take a side, or alternatively force the Pasdaran to stay on the sidelines with them.

Pasdaran, also known as Iranian Revolutionary Guard

The Iranian Ground forces (I will focus on them, as the Navy and Air force are currently irrelevant, will update if the situation changes) have been estimated between 100,000 and 130,000 units total. As always, truth most likely resides somewhere in the middle. They are, much like the Basij and Ansar, subservient directly to the Supreme Leader, and ideologically created in the spirit of defending the Islamic Revolution ideals and Republic, not Iran per se. They also control the Basij.

They are a child of the revolution, and they are more geared toward guerilla warfare than they are for military engagements. They are also the force responsible for training the various terrorist groups financed and supported by the Iranian government. They are fanatically devoted to the Republic through intense indoctrination.

The elite troops are called Quds. They are considered the elite of the elite, but they only number between 2000-6000, although rumours say that they are twice or three time as big. They are, however, rumours and quite unlikely.

Ultimately, the Revolutionary Council and the Supreme Leader will call on them if they think they are on the verge of losing power, however it is unlikely that the army will just stay on the sidelines if this happens.

The Grand Ayatollahs

The Grand Ayatollahs are Shiite clerics who first attained the position of Ayatollahs and then, through their knowledge of Islamic Jurisprudence, attained a supreme position and are regarded as the most important voice in Shia Islam today. They revolve around the holy Shiite city of Qom, though some live outside Iran.

Demands from the protesters

Today, Mousavi gave an important speech. Here's the video, and translation

"I have come due to concerns of current political and social conditions - to defend the rights of the nation. I have come to improve Iran's International relations. I have come to tell the world and return to Iran our pride, our dignity, our future. I have come to bring to Iran a FUTURE of FREEDOM, of HOPE. I have come to represent the poor the helpless the hungry. I have come to be ACCOUNTABLE to you my people and to this world.

"Iran must participate in FAIR elections, it is a matter of national importance. I have come to you because of the corruption in Iran. 25% inflation means IGNORANCE - THIEVING - CORRUPTION - where is the wealth of my nation? What have you done with $300 BILLION in last 4 years - where is the wealth of the nation? The next Government of Iran will be chosen by the people. Why do all our young want to leave this country?"

"I know of no creation who places HIMSELF ahead of 20 million of the nation. We are Muslims - what is happening in Iran's Government is a sin! This Government is not what Imam Khomeini wanted for Iran - I will change all this - This is the SEA of GREEN!!"

This is a major landmark. Here are the 7 demands that are distributed by pamphlets to protesters:

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.

Who is Grand Ayatollah Montazeri?

Ayatollah Montazeri is a pro-Democracy, pro-Human Rights Ayatollah who was at one point possible successor of Khomeini, but became marginalized as he adopted what was seen as a too pro-Western, pro-Democracy stance.

Since shortly after beginning of the Revolution, he has been one of the fiercest critics of the Regime. The divide grew wider in 1988 when he had a falling out with Khomeini and was removed from his position as heir to the Supreme Leadership. He is one of the biggest proponents of women and civil rights for ALL Iranians, including much-maligned minorities like the Baha'is. In fact he goes further than the protections afforded to them under Sharia.

He is also a big critic of Ahmadinejad and has been seen for years as the best hope for Iran if he ever was to come to power, something that was unthinkable a mere week ago.

He has also come out with a statement saying that policemen who beat on protesters and follow orders will not be forgiven under Islam, and that even if the government cuts the lines of communication with the outside world, that it was too late and the truth was getting out

Links

For further information on the Basij, Global Security has a good article about the history of the Basij. CNN has a good article where eyewitnesses describe the type of violence usually unleashed by the Basij. Here is another good article from GS again giving more background information on the ruthless Ansar thugs. BBC profile of Grand Ayatollah Montazeri

important: The Iranian government is looking for dissident twitterers, so if you have an account, change your location and time zone to Tehran!

Regarding the supposed numbers received by all three candidates giving Mousavi the winner and Ahmadinejad third with 7M votes: The only confirmation is an Iranian journalist. We don't have any external data confirming those numbers. 7M for Ahmadinejad seems quite low, so treat this as an unsubstantiated rumour for the moment
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