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News From Iran
It’s damned near impossible to get any. Josh, aka NiteOwl has been producing The Green Brief for about 3 weeks now. This is the best source of gathered sources which are verified as well as they can be, under the circumstances. Some of these things he reports I can somewhat verify, in that I have seen the same reports from very trusted sources. An extremely small set of sources. Josh is more connected to the #iranelection than I am. I trust him to be as accurate as is possible.
The following is from trusted reports from inside Iran and describes events of July 9th, 2009.
The Green Brief #23 (July 09)
I’m NiteOwl AKA Josh Shahryar – twitter.com/iran_translator on twitter – and I’ve been immersed in tweets from Iran for the past several hours. I have tried to be extremely careful in choosing my tweet sources. What I have compiled below is what I can confirm through my reliable twitter sources. Remember, this is all from tweets. (My work is released under Creative Commons (CC). So use it freely and post it wherever you wish to.)
These are the important happenings that I can positively confirm from Thursday, July 9 .
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Protests / Unrest
1. As anticipated, there were protests today in almost every corner of Iran. In total, tens of thousands took to the streets across the country. Protesters were brutalized, arrested and shot at. Tear gas was extensively used. Detailed recap follows.
2. Tehran – Even before the protests started, security forces had gathered in Enghelab Square, Jamalzadeh Square and other parts of the city. It appeared as if helicopters were flying around in almost every block of the city. Their presence was continuous over Enghelab Square, Laleh Park, Azadi Blvd, and Azadi Square. An IRG (Islamic Revolutionary Guard) Unit, also known as Sepahe Pasdaran in Farsi, was stationed in front of the Ministry of Interior. All shops were closed on Azadi Blvd to prevent possible damage.
3. By 5 PM, people started to gather en masse at Vanak Square, Enghelab Square, Valiasr Square, Ferdowsi Square, as well as other parts in Tehran. Hundreds gathered at Tehran and Polytechnic University. People were joined by their wives, fathers, mothers and children. Contrary to most reports, many elderly people were also reported to have joined the protests. At times, pedestrians would join protesters in order to increase their numbers – making it more difficult for security forces to attack.
4. Protesters chanted “Mir Hossein, Ya Hossein!” and “Death to the Dictator.” Strangely enough, some slogans were directed at Mojtaba Khamenei – the son of Ayatollah Khamenei. Mojtaba Khamenei has allegedly taken control of the Basiji and is heavily involved in the government’s attempt at brutally suppressing the protests. “Mojtaba Bemiri, Rahbari Ro Nabini” – Mojtaba may you die and never become the leader – was heard being chanted in many neighborhoods (I personally viewed some authentic videos).
5. Estimating how many people actually gathered in Tehran is almost impossible. What can be safely asserted, from eyewitness accounts and examination of videos, is that the numbers were more than 35,000 – that’s including all the protesters and some pedestrians who joined them. Again, this number is only an estimate. All over the country, the number of protesters was reported to be slightly more than twice as much. On a side note, there were confirmed reports of people protesting in front of the Chinese Embassy in Tehran.
6. The police and the Basiji did not back away today. Clashes were reported in Tehran at Valiasr Square, Enghelab Square, Vanak Square, Karegar Shomali Street, Tehran University, and other parts of the city. Police shot at people in Azadi and Enghelab squares. People were seen being hit by bullets and falling to the ground. So far, at least one fatality has been confirmed in today’s scuffles.
7. Tear gas was used at Vanak Square, Enghelab Square, Tehran University and in other areas. Tear gas was most heavily used in front of Tehran University where hundreds of protesters had gathered. Protesters were shot at with rubber bullets as well. Tear gas was hurled at buses – an attempt to stop protesters from getting to and from other protest sites.
8. We have confirmed reports that plainclothesmen attacked dorms inside of Amir Kabir University. Partially confirmed reports also indicate attacks on Polytechnic University’s. Unconfirmed reports suggest security forces shot at people from helicopters. Heavy clashes were reported on Tajrish and Shariati Streets as well.
9. Fires were ablaze around the city. The metro station at Mirdamad was set on fire. Basijis were seen breaking window shops and attacking people indiscriminately. There were reports of people going on the offense and retaliating against the Basiji – in an attempt to stop them from damaging property and arresting other protesters.
10. Mousavi was supposed to join mourning families at a mosque today in Tehran. So far, no reports of his presence have emerged. Rafsanjani’s daughter was also expected to join the protests – no confirmation of her attendance has been obtained.
11. As previously mentioned, only one death can be confirmed at this point. Videos of people brutally beaten have been circulating on the internet – most of them confirmed. Today’s protests have seen an increase number of women heartlessly beaten. As the security forces chased crowds, women were often the ones falling behind, and thus, were mercilessly beaten with batons (Personally saw the video of woman with a broken leg being carried away by other protesters).
12. At the end of the day in Tehran, people took to the roofs again and started chanting ‘Allah o Akbar’ and ‘Death to the Dictator’. There were reports of Basijis shooting at people on rooftops in some parts of Tehran. Only partial confirmation could be obtained for this.
13. Apart from Tehran, large protests were fully confirmed in Ahvaz, Mashhad, Rasht, Isfahan, Tabriz, Sari, Hamadan, Babol, Kerman, Dezfol and Shiraz. Reports from Shiraz indicate that the protest there was probably the largest. Isfahan was a close second in terms of the number of people on the streets.
14. Reports of clashes in Isfahan where protests took place from 6 PM – 10 PM are confirmed. Tear gas was heavily used. In Dezfol, about two thousand people took to streets and reports of clashes are confirmed. Partially confirmed reports in Mashhad show that clerics had yet again joined the protesters.
15. Iranian Nobel peace laureate, Shirin Ebadi, wrote an open letter to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that has been published online. Ebadi request the removal of a ban placed on the operation of the Defenders for Human Rights Center – which she chairs -, and an end to the security and political pressures on civil, political and human rights activists by governmental bodies and officials in his administration.
Government / International
16. Reports coming from Tehran suggest that senior Ayatollahs that have supported the government are increasingly becoming disillusioned about Khamenei’s leadership because of his son’s heavy involvement in the post-election events. Partially confirmed reports from Tehran suggest that the head of the Judiciary has halted all death sentences until further notice.
17. French President Nicolas Sarkozy has urged Israel not to attack Iran’s nuclear installations. Iran’s ambassador to Iraq said Thursday that five Iranian diplomats held by US forces in Iraq for more than two years had been handed over to the Iraqi government.
18. The European High Court has affirmed the ban against Iran’s National Bank in Europe. The court decided that Iran’s government was acting against international laws by continuing to work on its nuclear program, thus, the earlier decision by the EU to ban the bank should continue to take effect.
Arrested / Released / Killed
19. At least 30 people were arrested from in front of Tehran University; several others from Valiasr Square. Several protesters were seen being beaten and dragged away. Security forces were said to have used ambulances to move arrestees away so people would let them pass through.
20. There are reports that some young Iranians had their passports confiscated at the airport immigration before entering Iranian soil. Mehsa Amrabadi was finally able to call her family after three weeks of being in detention. She is several months pregnant and her husband has been arrested too. She’s being held at Evin Prison. Sayeed Laylaz was also able to call his family, after being in detention for several days now.
20. Abbas Hakimzadeh, another reformist politician, and Kaveh Muzaffari, a reporter, were both released today. It has been reported the UN’s human rights body has requested the Iranian government to let them enter the country and investigate human rights violations after the election.
Media / Communications
21. In Tehran, the Telephone Directory Service was out, SMS was cut off again, cell phones weren’t working in several parts of the city and even land-lines were also cut off in some parts. Most Iranian televisions ignored protests almost completely. Some later showed limited footage. Press TV again claimed that the UK was unquestionably behind the unrest in Iran.
*A hearty thanks to Sahar joon for helping me out with proof-reading and very valuable tips. Also, a BIG THANKS to all the translators who’re spending their precious time on getting this to as many people as possible.
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Original NiteOwl Greenbriefs at WhyWeProtest.net