Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Israel Upgrades F-15 Fleet

Iran’s Press TV reported today that Israel has upgraded its fleet of F-15Is enabling them to carry out long-distance attacks, presumably on Iran’s nuclear facilities. The F-15Is are fighter bombers designed for air-to-ground attacks.

According to the report, the F-15Is have also been equipped with advanced weapon systems, identified as Barad Pelada (Steel Hail), and Lightning. The Barad Pelada system was identified as an advanced armament operating like a smart bomb. The new weapon replaces less advanced Inbar system.

The government-owned Press TV also links the fighter upgrade and the acquisition of new weapon systems to the reelection of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as president. Press TV quotes Lt. Gen. Ashkenazi, the Israeli military chief, to show the lineage.

"The reelection of Iran's president, his grave utterances regarding his will to harm the state of Israel and Iran's continual effort to achieve unconventional weapons require us to maintain an army that is coiled and ready to spring into action, and an Air Force that is skilled and sharp as a razor, that will stand up to any enemy and remove any threat from our citizens and residents," said Gen. Ashkenazi [Press TV, 30 June 2009].

Monday, June 29, 2009

Who Really Won?

The governmental body acting as Iran’s elections commission, the Guardian Council, today certified the results of the 12 June presidential election, paving the way for a second 4-year term for the incumbent, Mahmoud Ahmdinejad. His new term will start in August. Iran’s Supreme Leader had already “certified” the election results.

The turnout in the election was at 80%, one of the highest in the history of Islamic Republic. Normally, a high turnout is seen as an affirmation by the public of the legitimacy of the regime. This month, however, we witnessed the first-hand experience of 80% of the population in a process that soon became tainted. Ahmadinejad and Khamenei won the day, but it is not clear at all if the Islamic Republic came out as winner.

Two factors dominated the upheaval that surrounded the disputed election and the government’s handling of the dispute.

First, the Islamic Republic had to put all the pretensions aside and act ruthlessly, and in the process involving Khamenei directly with the suppression and the bloodshed that followed the election. Millions of very young Iranians, those who have been born and raised under the Islamic Republic, witnessed a different face of their supreme leader and of a system which had always claimed the high moral ground for espousing a moderate and democratic form of Islam. In less than thirty days, the Islamic Republic undid thirty years of image building. People chanting “Death to Dictator” told the story.

The government won the battle by killing and imprisoning the youths, but lost the war to win their hearts and minds. The future leaders of a democratic Iran will come from the ranks of the veterans of the uprising.

If the popular uprising and the social movement born on the streets of Iran constituted one side of the story, the growing, and by now antagonistic, power struggle among the leading figures of the regime constituted the other side of the upheaval, as detrimental to the future of the Islamic Republic. Hence my second point. The system came out never as damaged in its thirty year history.

Rafsanjani’s letter to Khamenei on the eve of the election coupled with firm stands by Mousavi and Karrubi against the government turned big-time loyalists (the current chairman of Assembly of Experts and former president; the former prime minister of the imposed war, the former speaker of Majlis) into opposition. The government seemed eager bringing them on! Again, the battle may have been won, although not as clear as the government wants to believe, but forcing these loyalists into the rank of opposition is loosing the war. And meanwhile, the extent of corruption eating into the very existence of the Islamic Republic became so public like at no times in the thirty years of the government of the downtrodden.

Khamenei and Ahmadinejad need not need to celebrate yet. What they gave up for a second term might come back and haunt them.

Iran Army Conducts Military Drill

Press TV Photo
The Iranian army today conducted large-scale maneuvers in the provinces of Khuzestan, Ilam and Lorestan in west and southwest of the country. The three-day military drill will end on Wednesday.

The purpose of the exercise is for the Army to drill its command and control readiness at regiment level. The Army will test telecommunications, engineering, information processing and electronic war systems. Different war tactics and methods for future combats with several scenarios will also be exercised.

The exercise is code named Ali ibn Abi Talib. Last week, Iran's Air Force successfully conducted a three-day aerial maneuver, dubbed Milad-Nour-Velayat, over the Persian Gulf.

The air drill was focused on to developing the skill of the Air Force personnel in loading planes. Iran's F-4 and F-5 fighter jets and the home-made "Saeqeh" (Thunderbolt) took part in the maneuver.

Reports on Mousavi’s Arrest Denied

Late night, there were reports circulating in Tehran and within the social networks that Mir Hossein Mousavi had been arrested at his home in Tehran. A leading journalist also confirmed the news on his Facebook page. This morning, the report was denied by a number of sources, including social networks.

The closure of major Iranian and foreign news organizations inside Iran has made it that much more difficult to confirm or deny the reports circulating within the social networks. In our original post last night, we did say that the report had not been not confirmed, and hours later updated the post with reports of denial. But it nonetheless helped circulate a false report, for which we do apologize to our readers.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Mousavi Arrested- Maybe Not!

According to yet an unconfirmed report from Tehran, Mir Hossein Mousavi was arrested at 09:30pm Sunday at his home in Tehran. One of Mousavi’s neighbors are identified by social networks as the news source. We will keep you posted on this potentially major development.

UPDATE (7:00 am Tehran time): There are equally unconfirmed reports lately that the news of Mousavi’s arrest is false. We could not reach anyone to confirm or deny the report. We need to err on the side of caution and assume he is not arrested unless his detention is verifiably reported.

Stand by Me!

Andy, Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora & Friends singing "Stand by Me" in solidarity with Iranian people at these difficult times. Recored in LA on 24 June 2009.

Karrubi, Large Crowd at Ghoba Memorial

Ayatollah Mehdi Karrubi joined the mourners today at Qoba Mosque, marking the 7th day anniversary of the Tehran bloodshed that left Neda Soltan and score of others dead. After Karrubi left the scene, the police used tear gas to disperse the large crowd.

Thousands of Mousavi supporters in front of Qoba Mosque. Tehran. 28 June 2009. Mir Hossein Mousavi could not attend the service, but talked to the mourner via cell phone conected to a loudspeaker.

People on their way to the memorial service at Ghoba Mosque, chanting Marg bar Dictator ("Death to Dictator"). Tehran. 28 June 2009.

7th Day Anniversary

Sunday is the seventh day anniversary of the bloodshed on the streets of Tehran which left Neda Soltan and other protestors dead.

A memorial service for the fallen had been announced via Twitter and other social networks for 6:00 pm on Sunday local time at Tehran’s Qoba Mosque. Observers were concerned of a heavy-handed response by the security forces and another day of bloodshed.

The reports indicate that Mir Hossein Mousavi and Ayatollah Karrubi will attend the service.

UPDATE (700 pm Tehran time):
the memorial service started at 6:00 pm. Social networks report huge crowds in and outside the mosque. No reports of clashes with security forces.

Neda Soltan

Millions across the world viewed the last moments of Neda Soltan in Amirabad at the age of 26. The killing of Neda and the bloodshed on the streets of Tehran brought anger and disgust at the Iranian government inside Iran and across the world. Neda is becoming a symbol of Iranian nation’s aspirations for freedom and progress.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Mousavi Rejects Partial Vote Recount- Demands Re-Run

Mir Hossein Mousavi today formally rejected the government’s offer for a partial recount of the ballots cast in the 12 June disputed presidential election. Mousavi again demanded a full re-run of the election.

"Limiting the probe into complaints about electoral irregularities to recounting 10 percent of the ballot boxes cannot attract people's trust and convince public opinion about the results," Mousavi said on his campaign website Ghalamnews.ir.

"I insist again on cancelling the election results as the most suitable way out of the problem," Mousavi said.

Friday, June 26, 2009

US Denies Visa to Iranian VP

The US has denied visas to Iran’s First Vice President Parviz Davoudi and his delegation to attend a UN conference on the economic crisis.

"I am indeed delivering this speech on behalf of Dr. (Parviz) Davoudi, first vice-president of the Islamic Republic of Iran, who along with members of the Iranian delegation was not able to participate in the conference," Iranian UN Ambassador Mohammad Khazaee told the high-level UN conference today.

"Their entry visas were not issued by the host country," Khazaee said, referring to the US.

The denial of visa to such high-level delegation sends a strong message to Iran’s leadership on the extent of the concern and unhappiness of the Obama administration for the on-going government suppression of the current social movements in Iran. More than 60 Iranian citizens have lost their lives while protesting a rigged presidential election.

Iranian People’s “Enduring Pursuit of Justice” - Obama

Today, President Obama accused the Islamic Republic of violating “universal norms, international norms.”

“The violence perpetrated against them [Iranian people] is outrageous,” said the president. “And despite the government’s efforts to keep the world from bearing witness to that violence, we see it, and we condemn it.”

Obama also praised the bravery of Iranian people and called it “a testament to their enduring pursuit of justice.”

President Obama said that the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, should “think carefully about the obligations he owes to his own people. And he might want to consider looking at the families of those who’ve been beaten or shot or detained.”

Obama also raised doubts about dialogue with Iran under the current political uncertainty in Tehran.

Candlelight Vigil

Candlelight Vigil. The University of Tehran.
Thursday Night 25 June 2009
Citizen Tube

Candlelight Vigil. DuPont Circle, Washington, DC.
Thursday Night 25 June 2009
Uskowi on Iran Photo

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Mousavi: Leading the Resistance

Mir Hossien Mousavi today accused Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei of not acting in the interest of the country. He declared that during the past week, the country has suffered a dramatic change for worse. Mousavi vowed to pursue his request to have the election annulled.

“I am not only prepared to respond to all these allegations but am ready to show how election fraudsters joined those who are truly behind the recent riots and shed the blood of people,” Mousavi said [LA Times, 25 June].

Mousavi has surprised many Iran analysts by the strength of character he has shown since he was thrown into the leadership position of the on-going mass movement in the country. Today’s remarks will cement his position as the undisputed leader of the movement.

Yesterday, Khamenei had said no to annulment of the election.

Resistance On Tehran Streets

Basij militia fleeing and firing shots back toward a charging crowd of protestors
Tehran. 25 June 2009
Citizen Tube

Day 13: Clashes at Enghelab

Today, clashes between protestors and the riot police started at Enghelab square and spread to Kargar and Azadi streets. Eyewitnesses report that protestors were trying to push back the riot police from the square.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Khamenei: No!

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei vowed on Wednesday he would not back down in response to protests over the disputed election.

“I had insisted and will insist on implementing the law on the election issue ... Neither the establishment nor the nation will yield to pressure at any cost,” Khamenei said.

Day 12: Basij/Police Brutality on Tehran Streets

Chants of Marg Bar Dictator ("Death to Dictator") with shots heared in the background.
Tehran. 24 June 2009

Police and Basij Savagely Attack Protestors Outside Parliament

The police and Basij has amassed a large force at Baharestan Square outside Iran's Parliament (Majlis) to break a large opposition rally. Eyewitnesses sending out reports via Twitter and a CNN correspondent near the scene report shooting in the square. Basij Force is savagely attacking people in the square and those inside buses trying to get to Baharestan by batons. A number of protestors are critically injured.

Armed uniformed police and Basij rae guarding other main squares in Tehran as well. The city is under an undeclared martial law.

CNN: Security forces firing weapons beat protesters in Tehran; witness on CNN TV says they beat people like "animals." http://bit.ly/aoVi9

Twitter: “They pull away the dead into trucks - like factory - no human can do this - we beg Allah for save us.”

Twitter: “Lalezar Sq is same as Baharestan - unbelevable - ppls murdered everywhere.”

UPDATE: Eyewitness reports describe the scene at Baharestan as “massacre.” Basij is beating people to death.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Rallies Planned for Wednesday and Thursday

Wednesday at 4:00 pm (Tehran time): In front of the Parliament building in Baharestan.

Thursday: At Imam Khomeini Mausoleum. Exact time will be announced later.

Every evening: 6-8 pm: Gatherings at all Tehran quarters and squares.
Azadi, Enghelab, haft Teer, Towhid, Vanak, Mathar, Imam Khomeini, Jomhouri, Ferdowsi, Baharestan, Imam Hossein, Felestine, Fatemi, Argentine, Tajrish, Sadeghieh, Saadatabd, Pasdaran, Haft Houz, Narmak, Theran Pars, Rahahan, Shahr Ray, Nazi Abad, Khani Abad, Javadieh, Khazaneh ...

Every evening at 10 pm:Allaho Akbar” and “Ya Hossein, Mir Hossein” chanting

Monday, June 22, 2009

Day 10: Tabriz Streets

Tabriz. 22 June 2009

Day 10: Tehran Streets

Tehran. 22 June 2009

Is Assembly of Experts Convening?

Reports from Qom, the seat of Iran’s senior Shia ayatollahs, indicate that at least half of the members of the Assembly of Experts, comprising of many of the senior clerics, are willing to convene a session of the Assembly in the light of recent developments in the country. The Assembly, headed by Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani, has the constitutional power of naming the supreme leader.

It is widely believed in Qom that the recent “coup” against Mir Hossein Mousavi, the presumed winner of the disputed presidential election, was orchestrated by the office of the supreme leader, specifically by Khamenei’s son, Mojtaba. The members of Khamenei’s household and his private office have been concerned with the health of Ayatollah Khamenei, believe to suffer from lung cancer. The election of an independently-minded president like Mousavi would have diminished the power and influence of Khamenei’s office in naming a successor acceptable to them in the event of his death.

When Ayatollah Khomeini died twenty years ago, his office led by his son, Ahmad Khomeini, was kept out of the selection process for the new leader and after the ascension of Khamenei, Ahmad’s political standing went down rapidly. Mojtaba Khamenei did not wish to see a repeat of that experience. He wanted to control the selection process and even be named as successor himself. A power grab to transform the Islamic Republic into an Islamic Caliphate, with the new imams linked by blood to the deceased one, preferably their sons.

Mousavi in a letter distributed yesterday makes an important observation on the underlying reason for the way Khamenei’s office behaved after Mousavi emerged as the winner: “The issue was not centered around the election itself, but was centered around institutionalizing a new system of government.”

The reports that at least half the members of the Assembly of Experts are willing to convene an extraordinary session of the Assembly indicates that many senior clerics are uneasy with the way Khamenei’s office had intervened in the election process. They are also concerned with the future of the system and might want to make changes to the office of supreme leader and the leader selection process to prevent a power grab by the circle of relatives and advisers around Khamanei.

Day 10: Demonstrations at Haft Teer

There were two demonstrations scheduled for today, local times:
- 4 pm: Haft Tir
- 5 pm: Ferdowsi

People started to gather at Haft Teer at 4 pm. Eyewitnesses were reporting more than a thousand showed up, clogging the sidewalks around the square. Heavily armed police and plainclothed Basij Force members were practically occupying the square, not allowing the demonstrators to begin their march. Instead people were circling the square, shoved by Basij. Police used tear gas to disperse the biggest concentration of demonstrators. Shots were also heard at the square.

Physicians Tell the Story

Physicians and nurses at Rasool Akram hospital in Tehran coming out with placards in their hands releasing the number of dead and injured that were taken to their hospital on Saturday 20 June.

In their hospital alone, 10 had died as the result of bullet wounds and 28 were critically wounded

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Basij Commander in Action

Click on the Picture to Enlarge

The man pulling out a pistol is identified as Hassan Mir Kazemi, the commander of Basij Force at Elhadi Mosque at Tehran’s Shams Abad district. He is also the director of Donya Felez plant situated on Tehran-Karaj Road.

Neda was shot to death on 20 June by a Basiji member riding on a motorcycle. Neda’s killer has not been identified. But senior Basij members such as Mr. Kazemi are responsible for the killing of Neda and many more unarmed civilians.

Tehran: 20 June Uprising

Tehran, 20 June 2009
People Breaking the Police Line

Tehran's Uprising

Tehran. 20 June 2009

Saturday, June 20, 2009

No to Khamenei

Iranian people today said no to the “Leader” by their blood. It is feared that close to 40 people have lost their lives today, with some 200 seriously injured. Khamenei is personally responsible for these deaths. By unleashing the Basij thugs and heavily armed police to confront unarmed citizens, he in effect ordered their killing. The action of the government today was a crime against humanity, and Khamanie and all other government officials involved in planning, ordering and executing the killing of unarmed citizens are responsible and should be held accountable for these crimes.

Instead of ordering the thugs and the police to shoot to kill young citizens of Iran, Khamanei could, and should have called for new elections. But his unwillingness to give an inch to the demands of the people is taking Iran to the brink of disaster and civil war.

I was traveling today unable to be online for most of the day, and now landed at the airport and read with sadness the reports on the death of up to 40 young people. The movement that started last week to annul the results of a stolen election has now been transformed into a national movement for freedom and change.

The movement and its leaders owe it to the fallen to continue the protests to halt the formation of a military dictatorship in the country and at the same time find tactics that minimizes the exposure of small groups of demonstrators to heavily armed police and Basij militia. A general strike coupled with well-planned demonstrations might be the way ahead.

The free world should join the Iranian people in their time of need and isolate Khamanei’s government, preventing it from successfully forming a dictatorship in Iran.

Day 8: Enghelab Rally

Thousands of people showed up for the planned rally at Enghelab Square, but were held off by heavily armed police to start the rally. The police used tear gas and chased people into alleys surrounding the square. But in spite of the police tactics, large number of dissenters gathered at Enghelab Avenue between Qusa Avenue and Enghelab Square.

6:00 pm: Large number of people on Enghelab Avenue, between Qods and Enghelab Square.

5:15 pm: Thousands are trying to gather at Enghelab; police is dispersing them by beating people and using tear gas. Police is chasing everyone into alleys and streets surrounding the square.

5:00 pm: Police force used tear gas to disperse people trying to gather at Enghelab.

4:45 pm: Few thousand protesters are defying heavy police presence and trying to pass police line to participate in the rally.

4:45 pm: Azadi Square, the destination of today's planned march is also filled with heavily armed police.

4:30 pm: Enghelab Square: More than 200 heavily armed police is guarding the square, preventing people to gather there as planned.

4:00 pm: People are heading to Enghelab Square to participate in the planned Enghlab-Azadi freedom march.

4:00 pm: Enghelab Square and surrounding streets are filled with police, but there are no report of incidents yet.

(Times in Iran Standard Time)

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Night After

Tehran: The night after Khamenei's speech. People on the roofs calling Alohaoakbar, in opposition to Khamenei.

US House Passes Resolution on Iran

US House of Representatives today passed the folowing resolution on Iran:

"Expressing support for all Iranian citizens who embrace the values of freedom, human rights, civil liberties, and rule of law, and for other purposes.

Resolved, That the House of Representatives—

(1) expresses its support for all Iranian citizens who embrace the values of freedom, human rights, civil liberties, and rule of law;

(2) condemns the ongoing violence against demonstrators by the Government of Iran and pro-government militias, as well as the ongoing government suppression of independent electronic communication through interference with the Internet and cellphones; and

(3) affirms the universality of individual rights and the importance of democratic and fair elections."

Developments since Khamenei’s Speech

- Mousavi has called on the entire nation to stand on balconies tonight and show support with “Allahoakbar” calls.

- Karrubi has formally asked the National Security Council, Iran’s top policy-making body, to annul the results of the elections.

- A rally from Enghelab Square to Azadi is planned for Saturday 20 June at 4:00 pm.

- Two student activists are arrested.

UPDATE: Allahoakbar was even stronger and louder tonight

Transformation of Islamic Republic into Military Dictatorship

The rulers of Iran have a historical tendency to militarize the government whenever confronted with large scale protests and calls for a freer society. In 1953, the American and British-inspired coup was staged to kill Mossadegh’s national movement and created a dictatorship under the shah with an army general as prime minister. In 1978, the shah, confronted by daily protests and large-scale marches, put the military in charge and called upon another army general to form his government. Now, Khamenei is confronted with public demonstrations and marches as massive and as spirited as those that toppled the shah. He, too, is taking steps toward transforming the Islamic Republic into a military dictatorship, putting the IRGC and the Basij Force in charge while filling the executive and legislative branches with IRGC and Basij reservists.

Khamanei’s speech today was a clear affirmation that the coup d’etat that started last Friday to nullify Mousavi’s victory and to suppress a growing movement for change is now in full swing. The crackdown has begun. Foreign journalists were kicked out late last week to avoid coverage of the impending confrontation. Many Iranian journalists and pro-democracy activists have been arrested, with many more in hiding. Mousavi, Karrubi and other opposition leaders were warned of serious consequences if the protests continue. Rafsanjani has been repeatedly threatened.

The opposition still enjoys wide public support. The critical days and weeks ahead will show if the Khamenei-Ahmanijad coup can hold power. The opposition leadership cannot risk encouraging people to come out to protest if violent attacks by Basij thugs become widespread. At the same time, they cannot tell people to go home and surrender. The new situation calls for new tactics. A combination of general strikes along with smaller and tightly organized demonstrations in different parts of Tehran and Iran in the next week or so could be an effective approach. And regardless of the ejection of foreign journalists, the world will be watching and supporting the Iranian people’s drive to gain freedom in their country.

Rafsanjani can also play a major role in overturning the Khamenei-Ahmedinejad coup. He has the majority votes in the Assembly of Experts. The assembly members must find the courage to vote to limit Khamenei’s authority and create a leadership council to replace him. While Mousavi has become the leading political face of the opposition, it is Rafsanjani, the preeminent elder statesmen of the Islamic Republic, whom the world should be watching. He holds the key to protecting Iranian citizens from state violence and bringing greater freedoms into their daily lives.

Khamenei Attacks Opposition- No Compromise

Iran' Supreme Leader Ayatolah Ali Khamenie today ended all speculation about a possible compromise between the government and the opposition over the disputed presidential election. In a Friday Prayer speech attended by Ahmadinejad, Khamenei once again approved the result of the election and demanded that Mousavi and Karrubi put an end to street protests and marches. Khamenei chided the opposition for believing it could bring about a velvet revolution like in Georgia, calling protesters "idiots."

The highlights of Khamenei's speech:

- 11 million vote difference [between the top to candidates] is impossible to cheat.
- Stop the debates now; discussions can turn into contempt.
- The [opposition] humiliated the president of the country, accusing him of lies and incompetence.
- Pro-government people also attacked leaders such as Hashemi Rafsanjani and Nategh Nouri, who have spent their lives for the Islamic Republic.
- Ahmadinejad's views much closer to his.
- The protests and marches need to be stopped now.
- Protests can not change anything. The "illegal" demands for nullifying the election results are not acceptable.
- If [opposition leaders Mousavi and Karrubi] do not stop the protests immediately, they will held personally responsible.
- The "idiots" (the opposition) thought Islamic Republic of Iran was Georgia!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Day Six: AP Video

AP's report on day six of protests and a perspective on this week's events.

The Next Government of Iran Will be Chosen by the People – Mousavi

Mousavi with his wife, Zahra Rahnavard
Tehran. 18 June 2009

Mir Hossein Mousavi addressed the huge rally in Tehran this afternoon. The excerpts and the translation are provided through Twitter.

"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 get back Iran’s pride, our dignity and our future. I have come to bring to Iran a future of freedom, of hope and of fulfillment.

I have come to represent the poor, the helpless, and 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 and corruption.

Where is the wealth of my nation? What have you done with the $300 billion in the last four years? The next Government of Iran will be chosen by the people. Why do all our young want to leave this country? I know of nobody else who places himself ahead of 20 million other of a nation.”

UPDATE: See amateur footage of today's march in Tehran released by BBC:


Thursday @ 4 pm: Call for Biggest Rally Ever

On the 6th day of protests in Iran, the opposition has called on Tehranis to gather at 4 pm today Thursday [1130 GMT] at Toopkhaneh Square [Imam Khomeini Square]. Mousavi has named today the Day of Remembrance to honor the fallen citizens who lost their lives in the first five days of protests.

Observers expect today's rally and the peaceful march through Tehran's main streets that would follow to be the largest protest rally ever staged in Iran.

To All Tehranis: Gather Today, Thursday, at 4 pm at Toopkhaneh

UPDATE @ 5:30 pm Tehran time: Evreybody is peaceful and quiet - evreybody is wearing black - number of people is unbelievable - SEA OF GREEN [wrsit- headbands, scarfs...]

Tehran. 18 June 2009
NPR Photo

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Metro Revolution

Tehran Metro riders chanting and singing anti-government slogans and songs.

The Silent March

The “silent” march in Tehran. 17 June 2009

Some of the placards read:

- Sokoot Sabzeman (“Our Green Silence”)

- Neveshteem Mousavi, Khandand Ahmadinejad (“We Wrote Mousavi, They Read Ahmadinejad”)

- Dolat-e Coup d’Etat, Estefaa, Estefa (“Government of Coup d’Etat, Resign, Resign”)

- 8 Shahid , 46 Zakhmi (“8 Martyred 46 Injured”) – Rasool Hospital

- Tasliat (‘Condolences)

- Where is My Vote?

National Football Wearing Green Wristbands

Members of Iran's National Football Team Wearing Green Wristbands
Seoul. 17 June 2009
Image from state-owned IRIB Channel 2

Members of Iran’s national soccer team wore green wristbands in their match against South Korea in Seoul today. The green started as the color of Mousavi campaign and is now used as a symbol of opposition to the government. Millions of Iranians watched the game live on their televisions.

The gesture by the Iranian national team, revered in the country, is another manifestation of the depth of the movement. During the half-time, the government representatives forced the team to take off their wristbands.

Hundreds of Thousands in Tehran Rally

Hundreds of thousands of Mousavi supporters staged a protest rally in Tehran’s Haft-Teer Square at 5:00 pm local time (1230 GMT). The protestors then started a “silent” march from Haft-Teer to Vali Asr Square. The protest ended at 7:00 pm as requested earlier by the organizers.

The protestors were old and young, some with families. Many were wearing the green wristbands and headbands originally associated with Mousavi campaign, now a symbol of the opposition to the government.

Silent March. Tehran. 17 June 2009

Tehran. Karim Khan Bridge. 17 June 2009

Thursday: Mousavi Calls for National Day of Remembrance

Mir Hossein Mousavi in a letter addressed to the Iranian people has called for a national day of remembrance on Thursday 18 June to honor those who lost their lives during demonstrations and marches in the past few days. He has asked the people to participate in peaceful marches and memorial services on Thursday afternoon throughout the country to mark the occasion.

Uskowi on Iran extends its deepest condolences to the families of the fallen citizens and to the Iranian people.

Today’s Gathering in Tehran

Today’s gathering (Wednesday 27 Khordad) will be held at Haft-e Teer Square between the hours of 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm. It is requested that all gathered leave the square precisely at 7:00 pm to avoid any possible altercations after dark.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

This Is What Fascism Looks Like

The video was just posted by Andrew Sullivan under the above title. He has requested his readers to translate the background voice. Here it is:

The voice: "Hit him, hit him with the baton, hit him with the baton... Pull him, pull him... Thugs should go to prison, thugs should go to prison..."

There are voices toward the end that are not clear. Then the policeman pulls the young man from the ground, continue hitting him, ordering him "Don't move!" although he looked only half conscious.

Open Letter to President Obama

Dear Mr. President,

I was an early supporter of your presidential campaign throughout the primaries and the general election. Along with hundreds of other supporters in Virginia, I worked tirelessly to deliver the state to you after more than 40 years of Republican presidential victories. I supported your vision of change on domestic and foreign policies, including your call to directly engage the Iranian government to abide by its obligations on the nuclear issue and to halt its support of terrorism.


When confronted with the realities on the ground, any good policy or plan needs and must be revised. Your, and our, Iran policy is being challenged by the current realities in the country. In the past four days, the Khamenei-Ahmadinejad government has disregarded the aspirations of the citizens and their basic rights. The students and the youths of the country are being killed, injured and imprisoned. Iranian citizens are calling for change, inspired to a large degree by the message of hope that you, Mr. President, gave them in your Cairo speech.

Mr. President,

There is now a compelling new factor that needs to be added to process of normalization of relations with Iran: the government’s handling of the largest social and political movement in the history of the Islamic Republic. Our government must demand the government in Tehran to guarantee the safety and security of its citizens during their peaceful demonstrations against the outcome of the election.

Normalization of relations with Iran needs to recognize the realities on the ground, which have changed radically in the past few days by a social movement with historic proportions. The normalization process should proceed in a way that will not alienate millions of young citizens whose call for change was inspired by your message of hope. We cannot and should not limit the process to nuclear and terrorism issues. The Iranian people are crying out for change, reminiscent of our days of campaigning here in this country. We must take a moment to remember the broader principles of our democratic society, and support the millions of Iranian citizens that seek to acquire them.

Respectfully Yours,

Nader Uskowi

Protests Spread throughout Iran- Tehran Rally Cancelled

Last night, Isfahan, Shiraz and Mashhad were the scenes of major demonstrations. Scores of people have been arrested.

"About 100 people have been arrested in Shiraz," Fars police chief Ali Moayedi said [ISNA, 15 June 2009].

In the holy city of Mashhad, residents report the arrest of at least 15 people last night after Basij Force attacked people gathering to start a march on city’s main boulevard.

Meanwhile, Mousavi has asked his supporters to cancel a major rally that was planned to take place in Tehran later today. The call came after pro-government groups called for a rally at the same place hours after anti-government protest plans had been announced. It was widely feared that the presence of the two camps at the same place would result in massive casualties.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Iranians and Supporters Worldwide Join the Protest

Washington, DC. 15 June 2009
Demonstration in Front of the Iranian Interest Section

Casualties in Tehran

Protestors chanting: Mikosham, Mikosham, Ankeh Baradaram Kosht (“Will Kill, Kill, Those Who Killed My Brother”) and Marg Bar Dictator (“Death to Dictator”)

Tehran. 15 June 2009

Basij Firing into Crowd in Tehran

Please see the link below for Basij firing into the crowd during today's demonstration in Tehran. The firing resulted in one death and at least 15 critical injuries.

Warning: There are distressing images in this video clip.


Casualties at Azadi Square and Tehran U Campus

During last night’s attack by Basij militia force on the campus of the University of Tehran, at least one student lost his life, and four other students, including two female students, were critically injured and are all feared dead. Protesting the attacks and the killing, 119 university professors, including the chairman of the computer science department, today resigned en masse. And the students are demanding the resignation of university president Farhad Rahbar for his inaction to prevent Basij’s attack.

Later in the day, the Basij militias opened fire on the crowd of hundred of thousands of demonstrators gathered at Azadi Square, killing at least one person, with 15 others critically injured. Please see the editorial piece posted earlier on the subject.

Editorial: Iran’s Popular Movement Enters New Phase

The death of a Mousavi supporter in today’s anti-government rally in Tehran at the hands of the Islamic Republic’s Basij militias, with several others seriously wounded, opens a new chapter in the growing social and political movement that is gripping the country. The government wants to scare people into submission. And Mousavi’s leadership will now be severely tested. The question is: Can he maintain the movement’s momentum under the threat of armed action on the part of the government and its militia?

Mousavi needs to ask Khamenei and the government to immediately order the Basij militia to pull out of the streets and order the police to be present during these demonstrations to prevent such attacks and engage the Basij if necessary. The supreme leader and the government are responsible and accountable for the maintenance of the people’s safety and security. Such demand from a government that came to power as the result of peaceful marches and gatherings at the very same Azadi square three decades earlier should be regarded as a minimum request. Mousavi needs to engage Khamenei publicly and force his hand to order the pull out of the Basij militias from the streets.

Mousavi also needs to maintain the current momentum by declaring a general strike throughout Iran to protest the Basij killing and demand that Khamenei orders the force out of the streets.

The general strike would also restore a period of calm for Mousavi and other leaders of the movement to plan further mass marches in Tehran and other major cities in the upcoming days. The Guardian Council is scheduled to investigate charges of election fraud brought by Mousavi and other presidential candidates. It is paramount for the movement to maintain its momentum, forcing Khamenei to annul the election results indirectly and through the Guardian Council. His order to the Council earlier today to investigate the charges was an indication that he is pondering such a move.

Misleading Op-ed Tries to Support Election Results

Nate Silver has weighed in on the controversial oped in today's Washington Post by two representatives of an organization called Terror Free America that claim their polling results correspond to Friday's election results. Silver's analysis doesn't help relieve the traditional media of the scathing critique it's received for its coverage of the protests over the weekend. (See here and here.)

The authors argue that their survey, conducted three weeks before the election, showed a two-to-one victory for Ahmedinejad in accordance with the final tally. What they fail to mention, however, is the precise percentage breakdown of the poll's results: 34 percent for Ahmedinejad to 14 percent for Mousavi, with the remainder of respondents claiming they supported none (8 percent), didn't know who they would vote for yet (27 percent), or simply refused to answer (15 percent). Silver suggests the pollsters published the wrong story: it isn't that Ahmedinejad garners a two-to-one margin over Mousavi -- hardly a responsible conclusion given the high percentage of unallocated respondents -- but that those not supporting Ahmedinejad were likely hesitant to report their true preferences.

Despite this incredibly low rate of response, the authors of the Post article claim that their respondents felt comfortable enough to express their opinions straightforwardly since they answered other controversial questions, such as on Ahmedinejad's performance. But Silver says that method isn't fail safe -- and, furthermore, that the lack of enthusiasm for Ahmedinejad that the poll also shows suggests many of those not responding to the vote question would be unlikely to support the incumbent.

Allocating undecideds is a notoriously tricky and controversial practice, especially in countries that suffer from political repression and intimidation. The poll might well have been accurate, as the Post piece's authors go to great lengths to demonstrate. The problem is with their analysis. Simply scaling up the results, as the survey's authors seem to do, is quite poor practice.

Death Toll Rising

AFP is reporting shots heard during a protest rally in Tehran today. One protester has been shot dead while many others were seen fleeing. Thick black smoke has also covered areas above the protests.

Mousavi Surrounded by Supporters

Behrouz Mehri/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Thousands Defy Protest Ban

twitpic Photo

Early Statistical Analysis Casts Doubts on Results

Renard Sexton at FiveThirtyEight, has posted an early statistical analysis of the election results, noting that "given the polling data in the run-up to the balloting, and the historical trend away from electoral domination in the first round by one candidate, this very fishy regional data tends to strongly support" the assertions of voting irregularities.

Specifically, Sexton notes that the historical trend in Iran is that the higher the turnout, the closer the election ("decreasing first round victor percentages"). On another issue that has been widely noted by commentators, Sexton asserts, that the provincial returns were highly unlikely to occur; comparing Karroubi and Ahmadinejad's provincial results from 2005 and 2009, Ahmadinejad beat his opponent by a factor of 10 in provinces Karoubi won handily in 2005. Thus, "Not only did Ahmadinejad beat Karroubi in his base of support, he crushed him beyond all recognition." Sexton notes that while his analysis is not definitive proof of wrongdoing, it is highly suggestive of suspect results.

Ahmadinejad's Change of Plans

The Washington Post reports that Ahmadinejad postponed a scheduled trip to Russia today amid the protests, but notes that the Iranian Embassy in Moscow did not give a reason for the delay.

Iran Today

Khamenei, apparently reversing course, orders election probe while hundreds of thousands of Mousavi supporters take to the streets.

State-funded Press TV reports that the Supreme Leader has ordered the Guardian Council to investigate allegations of voter fraud. Despite this apparent attempt to ease tensions amongst anti-Ahmadinejad voters, protesters have taken to the streets in droves.

By some calculations--including Press TV estimates--hundreds of thousands of Pro-Mousavi supporters have been marching towards Meydoon-i Azadi (Freedom Square), where Mousavi himself has appeared. According to CNN, Mousavi is attending the rally to apperantly appeal for calm. This, of course, may be the only means to legitimize his appearance at what could appropriately be viewed as an anti-government protest.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Khamenei Approves Election Results – Alternatives Open to Mousavi Supporters

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei today once again approved the presidential election results.

“The 10th presidential election was an epic and ominous event,” Khamenei said on Sunday. “The wise and vigilant Iranian people showed they are still committed to the path of the architect of the Islamic Revolution the late Imam Khomeini,” Khamenei added [IRNA, 14 June 2009].

Khamenei’s approval came ahead of the Guardian Council’s 10-day deadline to certify the results, practically assuring that the Council would reject Mousavi’s appeal to annul the election.

The only legal course available to Mousavi and his supporters, if and when the Guardian Council rejects his appeal as expected, is the intervention of the Assembly of Experts. The Assembly, comprised of 86 leading Shia jurisprudence experts, has the constitutional power to select, supervise and dismiss the supreme leader.

The supervision and dismissal clauses have never been used by the Assembly, and it is considered very unlikely that the Assembly would now use its constitutional power to force the supreme leader to nullify the election results. What makes it intriguing, however, is the fact that Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani was elected last year as the Assembly’s chairman and has strong support within the 86-person assembly, all clerics like himself. Rafsanjani has emerged as the most powerful opponent of Ahmadinejad and a strong supporter of Mousavi.

In his now famous open letter to Khamenei last week, he warned Khamenei on his responsibility to ensure a fair election. Some of us saw the reference as a veiled threat that the assembly can and might exercise its rights to “supervise” the leader and his decisions.

The Assembly of Experts exerting its power to shape the events in the next few weeks seems to be the only hope left for Mousavi supporters, an unlikely outcome, but possible considering the fast-paced events in the past 48 hours in Iran.

Tehran: Sunday Night Demonstrations

Tehran. Sunday Night. 14 June 2009
Anti-Government Demonstration

Tehran witnessed large demonstrations on Sunday night. At 9:00 pm, many gathered on rooftops chanting Allaho Akbar ("God is Great") and street demonstrations followed. The main chant at these demonstrations was: Marg bar Dictator ("Death to Dictator").

The police has prevented the foreign media present in Tehran from filming these demonstrations.

Latest Developments: Iran

- Mousavi called on the Guardian Council to nullify the results of the presidential election.
- Mousavi, the presumed real winner of the election, was scheduled to address his supporters at Azadi Square tonight. We will report the speech as soon as available.
- Clashes continued on the streets of Tehran on Sunday night. Police has sporadically deployed tear gas and firing into the air to disperse opposition gatherings.
- A new chant by demonstrators: Dowlat-eh Koodeta, Estefa, Estefa (“The Government of Coup d’état, Resign, Resign!)
- Demonstration has spread to other major cities, such as Isfahan.
- Ahmadinejad addressed a large group of supporters in celebration of his victory.

Iran Today

Tehran. 14 June 2009

Isfahan. 14 June 2009

Tehran. 13 June 2009

Mousavi Calls for Annulment of Election Results

Presidential candidates Mousavi and Karrubi today asked the Guardian Council to annul the results of the 12 June election, as declared by the Interior Ministry, and call for new election. Mousavi called the annulment of election results as the only way for the Islamic Republic to restore its legitimacy.

The Real Votes: Mousavi at 52%

A reliable source at Iran’s Ministry of Interior today has told Uskowi on Iran that the real final vote count for Mousavi and Ahmadinejad was as follows:

Mousavi: 19,075,623 = 52%
Ahmadinejad: 13,387,104 = 37%

Uskowi on Iran is also advised that the ministry officials called Mousavi’s campaign HQ in Tehran after the final tally and informed them of Mousavi’s win and telling them that the results would be officially released within the hour by the director of the ministry’s electoral commission.

Half an hour after the phone call from the Ministry to Mousavi’s campaign HQ, however, IRNA, the official Iran’s news agency, announced that Ahmadinejad was leading the pack by 69% of 5,150,188 votes counted by then. IRNA’s official release also said the votes counted by then constituted 19.43% of the total votes cast.

According to IRNA’s own calculations, the total vote cast was 26,520,021 or a 57% turnout of the 46.2 million eligible voters. But at day’s end, the turnout was changed to 80%, with Ahmadinejad receiving nearly 24 million votes!

It is clear now that in the period between the phone call to Mousavi’s office and IRNA‘s first announcement, the officials changed the vote counts to steal Mousavi’s victory and to prevent a devastating defeat for Ahmadinjad in the very first round of the election. We have referred to this move as a coup. A designation that fits the crime.

The real looser of the election is the Islamic Republic. Unlike shah’s government, or those of the neighboring Arab world, the Islamic Republic claims moral high ground for maintaining a democratic process in choosing its president. This year, Islamic Republic’s own watchdog body qualified four candidates out of nearly 500 who applied, and many qualified persons who did not run fearing the certain disqualification by the government. Then the Islamic Republic told the Iranian people that they were free to choose between the four candidates. The youths came out in droves to vote for change. But the government steals the election from a "trustworthy" former premier, one of the four who was deemed loyal enough.

These are sad days for Iran, but the real looser is the Islamic Republic; loosing its legitimacy and its moral claim to an Islamic democracy.

A Newspaper Headline Declaring Mousavi's Resistance

Kalameh headline: I Will Not Surrender- Mousavi

Protesting Fraudulent Election

Tehran. Vali Asr Avenue. 13 June 2009. 5 pm

Tehran. 13 June 2009. 5:45 pm

Tehran. Vanak Square. 13 June 2009

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Wave of Arrests in Tehran

Reports from Tehran indicate that Mir Hossein Mousavi, the presumed real winner of the presidential election, and Mehdi Karrubi, also a presidential candidate, are under house arrest. Gholamhossein Karbaschi, former Tehran’s mayor and Karrubi’s campaign manager, was earlier reported to be under house arrest.

The leadership of pro-reform Mosharekat Party, including its leader Mohammad Reza Khatami, the brother of the former president, and his wife, Zahra Esraghi have been arrested. Also arrested are Mosharekat’s secretary general, Mohsen Mirdamadi, and a score of its activists.

UPDATE: Mousavi and Karrubi are not under house arrest. Today, Mousavi filed a formal complained with the Guardian Council, asking the election oversight body to annul the results of the election, forcing a new election [14 June 2009].

Day of Protest in Tehran

Tehran. 13 June 2009
Photos by AP's Ben Curtis for
the Los Angeles Times

Tehran Today

Protestors Helping an Injured Riot Police (Gety Images)
Police Motorcycles on Fire (Getty Images)
Confronting he Riot police, Top (Gooya News)
Tehran. 13 June 2009

Street Protests in Tehran

Tehran Streets. 13 June 2009
Protesting Fraudulent Presidential Elections
Courtesy of Facebook Friends

Street Riots in Tehran

Street Riots in Tehran
Vanak Square. 4 pm. 13 June 2009
Protesting Fraudulent Presidential Election

Khamenei Supports Election Results

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei today validated the 12 June election results by calling it a fine election and congratulating the Iranian people on their victory. He called on all presidential candidates to support Ahmadinejad, the declared winner of the election.

Meanwhile, Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karrubi published letters protesting the fraudulent nature of the election. Mousavi has not conceded and both him and Karrubi have vowed to press on to invalidate the election results.

A Government of Lies and Repression - Mousavi

Mousavi's Letter
Tehran. 12 June 2009. In Farsi

Presidential candidate and former premier Mir Hossein Mousavi has accused the government of “massive fraud” in tallying the votes. He has vowed not to surrender.

“The people know for whom they cast their ballots… and they now want to know how the [changing of votes] was planned and which officials ordered and carried it,” Mousavi said in a letter circulating in Iran.

“I strongly protest the current process [of election] and obvious and numerous violations and irregularities on the Election Day and will not surrender in the face of the dangerous game [played by those officials involved].

“What the untrustworthy officials have done would shake the pillars of the sacred Islamic Republic of Iran and would result in a government of lies and repression.”

Friday, June 12, 2009

Massive Fraud Suspected in Iran Elections

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is being declared the winner of Iran’s presidential election with nearly 35% margin over nearest competitor Mir Hossein Mousavi, with Karrubi and Rezaie receiving only 2% of the vote. The numbers do not add up. All the indications pointed to a very tight race between Ahmadinejad and Mousavi. Winning with 35% margin over Mousavi was unimaginable.

The questions is, if the government wanted to rig the votes in favor of Ahmadinejad, why did it need to show a margin of 35%. It would have been more believable if the margin was fixed at 1 or 2%. Here we might be witnessing not only an act of fraud on the part of the government, but a deliberate move to openly challenge and agitate the political opponents and the millions of ordinary young people who came out in droves on the city streets of Iran to register their unhappiness with the current situation.

The government seems to be challenging the opponents to come out again in anger in order to clamp down hard on them. The danger is for the IRGC and the Basij to raise their arms against the people in the coming hours and days.

To this analyst, the government’s move has all the hallmarks of a coup. The ruling group was loosing its control and has gone out in force to suppress the people’s aspirations. The opponents, especially Mousavi, Karrubi and Rezaie, need to find ways to register their refusal of the results of the election without risking a bloodbath on the streets of Iran.

A massive strike in the coming days might be a prudent approach. Such strike will have solid international support.

Ahmadinejad Declared Winner

The Islamic Republic News Agency, IRNA, has declared Mahmoud Ahmadinejad the winner of the presidential elections. The surprising results put Ahmadinejad at 66% and Mousavi at 31% of more than 21 million votes counted so far. The other two candidates were given less than 3% combined.

The accuracy of the results was under question, however. At 6 pm local time, three hours before the polls closed, the Interior Ministry spokesman announced that nearly 70% of all registered voters had cast their ballots. The current results put out by the same ministry now puts the turnout rate at 56%. The discrepancy has not yet been explained.

Ahmadinejad Reported Winning – Major Discrepancy in Turnout Percentage

With 20% of all votes counted, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad leads the race. IRNA, the official Iran news agency, has declared Ahmadinejad the winner of the election.

With 20% of the votes counted, here are the results:
Ahmadinejad: 69%
Mousavi: 28%
Rezaie: 2%
Karrubi: 1%

There is a major discrepancy in the results announced. The government is reporting that the 19.42% of all the votes counted equaled 5,150,188 actual votes cast, equating to a 56% turnout of all eligible voters (46.2 million).

The problem is that the Interior Ministry reported at 6 pm local time, three hours before the polls were closed, that by than nearly 70% of all registered voters had already cast their ballots. We will monitor the results as they become available to understand this apparent major discrepancy.

Iranians Voting in Droves

Press TV Photo

The turnout today for the presidential election is approaching historic proportion. The Interior Ministry is reporting that until 6 pm, nearly 70% of all registered voters have cast their ballots. The polls are being kept open for another 3 hours to 9 pm local time.

Mehr News Agency is reporting that the polls may remain open way past 9 pm to accommodate the surge in voting. All told, we might see some 80%+ turnout throughout Iran.