Iranians Protest, Government Cracks Down (Updated)
As the protests against election fraud in Iran unfold, accurate information is hard to come by as the Western journalists in the country struggle to cover the election in the shadow of an oppressive government -- fact is hard to separate from rumor. PJM's Ardeshir Arian in Los Angeles has been monitoring the Iranian media, blogosphere, and social media networks as the situation unfolds. He has collected the information contained in the following report:
After President Ahmadinejad declared victory, his challenger Mirhossein Mousavi's camp publicly charged the government with massive election fraud and vote-rigging.
Currently, Mousavi and his family and many others in his camp are under house arrest.
The arrest took place when Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who gave a public endorsement of the official election results, refused to answer Mousavi's telephone calls and Mousavi and his followers began to walk towards Khamenei's quarters. It was there he was told there were court orders for his arrest and he was turned back to his house, surrounded by security forces. Prominent members of Mousavi's key advisers and staff, including clergy, have also been arrested.
Angry protests have been taking place in cities across Iran. In addition to Tehran, protests have reportedly been taking place in Karaj, Mashad, Saari, and Sanandaj. Messages are being passed asking people to keep their doors open for protesters to seek sanctuary from police attacks.
Many gas stations are closed, with police guarding them. Universities, traditionally hotbeds of unrest, are the focus of protests and police response in numerous cities. Cellphone communications have been shut down and many websites filtered. In addition, landlines are out of commission.
In response to Khamenei's support for Ahmadinejad's version of the election results, influential politician and former president Hashemi Rafsanjani, a longtime Ahmadinejad rival, has threatened to resign from all his positions.
Reports are circulating that Venezuela has sent anti-riot troops to Tehran to help Ahmadinejad, joining Hezbollah members from Palestine and Lebanon who are employed by the Islamic government as anti-riot police -- the reason such forces are being brought in is that some of the Iranian police are unwilling to hit people as ordered and some are even joining the protesters.