Iranians Protest, Government Cracks Down (Updated)
June 19 (Update from Ardeshir Arian)
Friday prayers, which are always held during morning hours, were delayed into the afternoon hours for the first time. The Friday prayers were to happen at Mosalla. They instead took place at the University of Tehran because of extreme security concerns. Here is some more information from inside sources:
1. I received a message last night that there had been a meeting between the coup organizers and Revolutionary Guard commanders.
2. In the meeting, the coup organizers wanted the commanders to agree to the arrests of Ayatollah Montazeri, all of Mousavi's top advisers, and several clerics.
3. They wanted them to agree to a heavy crackdown on the opposition.
4. Some commanders caved in but many did not.
5. The ones who did not were immediately arrested at the meeting.
6. The coup organizers wanted to do this before Khamenei led Fridays prayers. They did not succeed.
7. At one point, they wanted to cancel Khamenei's appearance, but they felt it would give the opposition stronger momentum. That is why the whole thing was delayed for a few hours. They had prepared another speech for him, which they changed afterwords.
More on the Iranian protest from the Iran Press News Agency. (Watch for updates):
- From Tehran and Tabriz to Mash’had, Esfahan, Kerman, Shiraz, Sanandadj, Babol, and many other cities and towns across Iran people are out in the streets, rioting against the Khomeinist regime’s election results, chanting "Death to the Dictators."
- Following Khamenei’s order of disconnection of the text messaging and SMS system across Iran on Thursday, since late Saturday evening, June 13, all the cellular phones in Tehran have also been entirely disconnected.
- Entekhab News Agency reported on late Saturday night (June 13) that the other three candidates, Ahmadinejad’s opponents, Mir-Hossein Moussavi, Mehdi Karoubi, and Gholam-Hossein Karbashchi, are now all under house arrest. This report adds that thirty of the journalists who write for the newspaper Etemad’eh Melli (National Trust), owned by Karoubi, are all now also under arrest.
- Tehran University and several of its dorms are also surrounded by anti-riot security forces that are armed with weapons and various forms of chemicals and gases. Also from the vicinity of Tehran University sounds of explosions can be heard and it is reported that cars and buses are being set on fire (video of bus burning).
- Demonstrations are now being organized for Tuesday, June 16, 2009, in front of all the Iranian embassies, consulates, and interest offices around the world, in every major international city and the international media is being called upon to cover these protests. Already on Sunday, June 14, groups of Iranian dissidents and fellow supporters from various countries of residence have begun protesting in front of the Iranian embassies both in Rome and in Copenhagen.
- It is also reported that the police freely tasered pedestrians in the street who spent too much time in one area or didn’t walk along fast enough. There are widespread reports of police and security forces, around Tehran and other big cities where there have been demonstrations, who are not Iranian and either speak Persian with a very pronounced Arab accent or speak no Persian at all.
- There are also reports that special guard forces from the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) have stormed several hospital emergency rooms in order to arrest some of the individuals who were severely injured during demonstrations. It is said that the guards were confronted with doctors and nurses, refusing them access to their patients. However, due to the presence of the guards and as a result of the time the hospital staff was forced to spend fighting the guards off, the patients were unable to receive the necessary care. In some cases where the guards were forced to leave, the injured did receive the required medical attention.
- Reports from various sources around Tehran claim that a minimum of 900 people were arrested and taken to Evin Prison’s wards 240 and 7, which are areas of sequestration and seclusion. Human rights activists also note that the Judiciary and MOIS began moving all the prisoners from Evin’s infamous ward 209, solitary confinement, out to the public wards and they've prepared and emptied out that ward in preparation for new arrests.
- There are also rumors of the arrest of a Belgian journalist on the streets of Tehran. Reports said the journalist, who was preparing a report on the clashes on the street, was severely attacked and beaten by the regime’s security forces. He and two other foreign journalists, whose nationalities are as of yet unreported, were also detained for several hours on Sunday morning.
- There are also ongoing calls for protests around Tehran, Esfahan, Shiraz, Tabriz, Rasht, Mash’had, and Ahvaz. The protests are entitled "Let's Turn Ahmadinejad's Victory into Hell for Him."
- Ahmadinejad, who spoke at a press conference today, said: “Free elections in Iran are the true voice of the people of Iran and that this election was a huge slap in the face of those ‘world powers.'” He added: “The nuclear issue is a done deal and is no longer inevitable. The people of Iran will stand up to the bullying; the days where a few arrogant countries got to designate the fate of the nations of the world have come to an end.”
- Students from the Sharif Polytechnic University have organized a large protest on the university campus. As they tried to move the protest into the street, in order to march down the streets of Tehran, their exits and gates were blocked by the regime’s security guards and they were blocked from leaving the university grounds; at this juncture the students began to chant loudly and when the sound of their chanting was heard by passersby on the street, they began to gather by the thousands at the other side of the university gates. As reported by the human rights and democracy activists in Iran, the entire area was surrounded by the regime’s guards, who have begun to attack and beat the students and supporting demonstrators. Javan’eh Farda (Tomorrow’s Youth) website reported that, in a statement, 125 members of the Sharif Polytechnic University faculty have condemned the attacks on the students and have jointly announced their resignations, stating that until the time the people's rights are given, they will neither appear in classes nor for any exams.
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.