Video: Protesters gather at Iran parliament

msnbc.com
updated 6/24/2009 1:08:16 PM ET 2009-06-24T17:08:16

Information continues to pour from Iran via various Web sites and blogs reporting on what is happening there, despite a government crackdown on such communication. What follows are excerpts from those reports.

The cost of the violence, and its emotional and physical toll, is being shared by some Iranians as they can on the Internet. Indications are the government's tightening noose on communications — cell phones and Web — continues unabated. One Iranian, trying to get to the Web through Yahoo! Mexico's site writes of being warned not to; that it's a "trap" by the government.

An e-mail from a hospital doctor in Tehran is also being shared on the Web, and it speaks of the brutality of the injuries victims have suffered. On another site, an Iranian writes of the surrealistic scene in Tehran while the government television broadcasts "The Lord of the Rings" movie trilogy.

'Dying to entertain us'
"Honestly I am a bit depressed," is one post on TehranBureau.com, an online magazine about Iran.

"It seems they were going to release some of the detainees tonight. Allah o Akbars are going strong… There is a sense that something must be done. It is strange, so strange. I cannot believe this government continues. Even they themselves do not believe it. It is not over. The city is still full of special units, anti riot police and basijis. On television they are showing the latest Hollywood movies, including the Lord of the Rings trilogy all this week. They’re really dying to entertain us.

"Sharif University and University of Tehran are both closed. Sharif is supposed to reopen on Saturday. At Tehran University, the school chancellor, Dr. Rahbar, has asked faculty to sign a letter supporting the Supreme Leader.

"Sorry for my silence; it is hard to focus these days."

From another resident, who lives near the Iranian Parliament, where demonstrators have tried to gather in recent days:

"Just to let you all know, R. was arrested last night in Tehran; I’m not sure where and why. I got a call from his phone by the police who wanted me to confirm details. I had to tell them how long we’d lived in (here), how we met, what he and I do for work, where I work, my nationality, about his family and also where I live.

"He was carrying his laptop, external HD (hard drive) and camera so I’m guessing he’s having that looked though. They told me he’d be released any minute now last night. I doubt that."

Yet another Iranian tries of trying to access Facebook through Yahoo! Mexico. "But everyone says that’s a trap set by authorities to identify us!!!!!

"(X) quarrels with me all the time. He keeps imploring me not to go on the Internet. They even say the phones are monitored!!!

"I’m so frightened I changed my (online) name today.

"I don’t know why. Other than vote for Mousavi I’ve never engaged in a political activity in my entire life. But this is no comfort because (X)’s poor colleague was shot in the eye with a rubber bullet while driving through Vanak Square. After two operations, he’s blind in one eye!!!!!!!!

"They picked up someone else too. Two days after his disappearance they released him near Shahreh Rey with his eyes blindfolded and his mouth gagged."

A doctor's report
An e-mail from a doctor at Rasool Akram hospital in Tehran about the injuries seen from the weekend's violence is being posted on several Web sites, including Payvand News of Iran. This is the site's translation of the message, which was sent in Farsi:

"Yesterday (June 21), they brought in 38 gunshot victims to our hospital. 10 were already dead and the rest had various related injuries.

"From the look of it, these people had suffered automatic weapon fire. Most had more than 2 bullet wounds close to one another.

"A 68 year old man had been shot on the left shoulder and abdomen. Another young man, 18 years old, had been shot in the hand and wrist. According to the injured, they were shot from rooftops. A 32-year-old man had been shot in the back, but the exit wound had been through the front thigh.

"The survivor accounts is that they suddenly came under fire while walking in front of a Basiji base north of Azadi Square. ... A vehicle had been parked in front of the gate to prevent people from entering it which indicates prior planning. According to eyewitness accounts, 4 Basijis started shooting from the roof top of the base in a way that even those trying to help the wounded came under fire and became victims. At this point, the angry mob attacked the vehicle and set it on fire, but were unable to enter the base. Soon, the riot police and more Basijis arrived which resulted in more people getting shot and killed

"Based on the information obtained from physicians at the Emam Khomaini Hospital ... 38 gunshot victims had died there in the previous night.

"It is notable that this morning, regime's security forces had taken the bodies of these victims (by force) from the hospitals and transferred them to an undisclosed location. Most of the families of the dead do not even know that their loved ones have been killed.

"Among the dead are few 15 and 16 year old youngsters as well.

"This morning, between 9-11 AM, there was a gathering of physicians and students from Rasool Akram Hospital. They were disseminating information about the victims and the events described above. This gathering ended with the interference from the riot police."

Uprooting the foundations
According to Al Jazeera June 25, the "Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, an Iranian religious leader who has fallen out with the current government, has warned that the crackdown could destabilise the government.

" 'If Iranians cannot talk about their legitimate rights at peaceful gatherings and are instead suppressed, complexities will build up which could possibly uproot the foundations of the government, no matter how powerful,' " he said in a statement sent to the AFP news agency.

" ' My recommendation to the great and dear Iranian nation is to pursue its logical and fair demands in complete calm.'

"Baqer Moin, an Iranian author and journalist, told Al Jazeera that there appeared to be a battle of wills between the two sides in Iran.

" 'Nobody would like to make any compromise, naturally the opposition leaders rely on the street pressure on the government, but the government has got the advantage of heavy security pressure everywhere,' he said."


'Cell network down'
On Wednesday, demonstrators gathered at Baharestan Square, near the Iranian Parliament, but the gathering was met with gunshots, according to Saeed Valadbaygee, writing June 24 from inside Iran on his Revolutionary Road blog:

"In Baharestan Sq. A girl is shot and the police is not allowing to let them help"

"Cell network down in Baharestan & nearby area...

"The girl who was shot was taken to a private clinic, not known yet of her well being ... alive or not?

"People gathered in Baharestan but police & plain cloths don't let the core of the rally to form

"All shops and Passages are closed at Baharestan SQ, Gunshot being heard from Jomhori St

"Gunshot being heard at Baharestan Sq.

"More than 3 people have been shot in Baharestan's conflict, The shooting is still continues and conflicts increasing!!!!

"Heavy conflict between protestors and special guards at Sa'adi cinema intersection."

Valadbaygee also wrote that 25 journalists were arrested "last night... Arrested journalists have been threatened to write in support of Ahmadinejad and his government and not to support popular gatherings anymore."

'Many .. have been beaten and injured'
From Iranian opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi's Web site June 24:

"Many people have been beaten and injured at the protests across Tehran today. At Baharestan the police were waiting inside local mosques for the protesters to arrive. At this point many one would consider the actions of the Basij and Police as acts of Terror. This is amazing that even in the year 2009 such primitive policing still exists in Tehran which is a modern looking city in places.

"Police are confiscating mobile phones from any suspected protesters in an attempt to gather information on upcoming protests"

"In an attempt to stop the protest taking place outside the Iranian Parliament today they have closed the Baharestan tube station"

"Mousavi is not under house arrest but as many have suspected his movements are closely monitored by security agents. He will attend the peaceful protests where possible. His supports are hoping to see him soon."

Meanwhile, the BBC reported that on Mousavi's site, "his wife Zahra Rahnavard was also quoted as demanding the release of people detained since the election, who include 25 employees of her husband's newspaper.

" 'It is my duty to continue legal protests to preserve Iranian rights,' she was quoted as saying on the Web site."

No yielding 'to pressure at any cost'
Arab news channel Al Jazeera said that "state-run media" reported Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as saying: " '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.' "

Al Jazeera also said: " 'Yasmin,' a student protester told Al Jazeera that several hundred people had gathered near the parliament, but Mousavi was yet to show up.

"She said the protesters were hiding in metro stations and pretending to be just passing by to hoodwink police deployed across the city in very large numbers.

"Al Jazeera's Alireza Ronaghi said from Tehran that given the stringent security measures, staging rallies was going to be very difficult."

...."Although streets protests have diminished since police and pro-government militias used tear gas, batons and water cannon against protesters on Saturday, calls for further protests among supporters of Ahmadinejad's opponents have continued.

"Nazenin Ansari, the diplomatic editor of the Kahylan newspaper, told Al Jazeera that the fall in numbers gathering to protest was understandable given the "degree of repression on the streets".

" 'Without a doubt, although there are not millions gathering on the streets because of the indiscriminate fire and repression, this is going to transform,' she said.

" 'In provinces, where people were before gathering in universities, in recent days we are seeing people gathering in main squares.' "

'Accusations of meddling'
Arab news agency Al Arabiya said June 24: "Iran's intelligence minister Gholamhossein Mohseni-Ejei said some people with British passports were involved in post-election violence, the semi-official Fars News Agency reported.

"The minister also said one of the people arrested was a British national 'disguised as a journalist.'

"In more accusations of meddling Iran's interior minister accused U.S. spy agency the CIA of helping to fund 'rioters.'

" 'Britain, America and the Zionist regime (Israel) were behind the recent unrest in Tehran,' Interior Minister Sadeq Mahsouli was quoted as saying by Fars."

June 23: A 'bullet fee'
The Wall Street Journal online described the unimaginable horror for the family of 19-year-old Kaveh Alipour, who was "shot in the head as he stood at an intersection in downtown Tehran. He was returning from acting class and a week shy of becoming a groom, his family said.

"The details of his death remain unclear. He had been alone. Neighbors and relatives think that he got trapped in the crossfire. He wasn't politically active and hadn't taken part in the turmoil that has rocked Iran for over a week, they said.

"Upon learning of his son's death, the elder Mr. Alipour was told the family had to pay an equivalent of $3,000 as a 'bullet fee' —a fee for the bullet used by security forces — before taking the body back, relatives said.

"Mr. Alipour told officials that his entire possessions wouldn't amount to $3,000, arguing they should waive the fee because he is a veteran of the Iran-Iraq war. According to relatives, morgue officials finally agreed, but demanded that the family do no funeral or burial in Tehran. Kaveh Alipour's body was quietly transported to the city of Rasht, where there is family."

'She was shot and taken away'
Saeed Valadbaygee, writing June 23 from inside Iran on his Revolutionary Road blog, shares accounts of continued violence against students. There is this chilling report:

"After 5 days of not being heard of a female student of Azad university of Bandarabbas, now it has been confirmed by security guards that she has been killed.

"She was shot and taken away by security guards in front of the entrance of Bandarabbas Azad University on June 18th

"To avoid spreading this news ... by Bandarabbas people, her body was buried secretly and without informing her relatives."  

Video: Twitter outrage over Iranian 'bullet fee' And at Mazandaran University, north of Tehran, "While eleven students remain in detention and no information available on their status, in the last two days also two female students, Marjan Fiazi and Sogand ALykhah, were arrested.

"In the meantime, 40 of the other students were also prohibited from attending university.

"According to their friend, Marjan fiazi and Sogand Alikhah, while the two were in the campus courtyard, were attacked by molai, the force responsible for campus security and protection (harasateh Pardis). 'Molai' forced these two students into their official cars (jelodaar) and drove away. Since then there has been no news on these students' whereabouts and their health condition.

"Per our correspondent, these two students families informed us, they have been detained by the security and protective force and transferred to the Intelligence Bureau of Babolsar.

"These repressive encounters in Mazandaran (are) happening while alireza Kiani, siavash safavi, Milad Hosseini Keshtan, Ali Nazari, Rahman Yaghoubi, Maziar Yazdani, Ali Abbassi, Shovaneh Merikhi and...are still in detention. While, a large number of students are prohibited to enter, the university is still under severe security measures."

Neda's family  told: Take down mourning  banners
The family of Neda Agha Soltan, whose shooting death was captured on video and circulated worldwide, has more injury added, as if it were possible, reports the Times Online June 23:

"The Iranian authorities have ordered the family of a student shot dead in Tehran to take down mourning posters as they struggle to stop her becoming the rallying point for protests against the presidential election.

"Neda Salehi Agha Soltan, 26, was killed as she watched a pro-democracy protest, and mobile phone footage of her last moments have become a worldwide symbol of Iran's turmoil.

"The authorities had already banned a public funeral or wake and have prevented gatherings in her name while the state-controlled media has not mentioned Miss Soltan's death.

"Today it was reported that they had also told her family to take down the black mourning banners outside their home in the Tehran suburbs to prevent it becoming a place of pilgrimage. They were also told they could not hold a memorial service at a mosque.

"Nevertheless posters of Miss Soltan's face have started to appear all over Tehran."

Out of the car 'for just a few minutes'
German newspaper Die Welt reports that Soltan's fiance, "Caspian Makan told BBC Persian TV that Neda Agha-Soltan had been caught up accidentally in the protests.

" 'She was near the area, a few streets away, from where the main protests were taking place, near the Amir Abad area. She was with her music teacher, sitting in a car and stuck in traffic,' " it quoted him as saying.

"'She was feeling very tired and very hot. She got out of the car for just a few minutes.' "

Phone monitoring a 'standard architecture'
From the BBC, reporting on phone monitoring in Iran:
"Nokia Siemens Network has confirmed it supplied Iran with the technology needed to monitor, control, and read local telephone calls.

"It told the BBC that it sold a product called the Monitoring Centre to Iran Telecom in the second half of 2008.

"Nokia Siemens, a joint venture between the Finnish and German companies, supplied the system to Iran through its Intelligent Solutions business, which was sold in March 2009 to Perusa Partners Fund 1LP, a German investment firm.

"The product allows authorities to monitor any communications across a network, including voice calls, text messaging, instant messages, and Web traffic.

"But Nokia Siemens says the product is only being used, in Iran, for the monitoring of local telephone calls on fixed and mobile lines.

"Rather than just block traffic, it is understood that the monitoring system can also interrogate data to see what information is being passed back and forth.

"A spokesman described the system as 'a standard architecture that the world's governments use for lawful intercept.' " 

Spokesman: Rallies only contribute to 'bloodshed'
From Arab news agency Al Jazeera June 23:

"Despite the deaths, arrests and an earlier warning from Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader, the demonstrators appear to be undeterred.

"Alireza Zaker-Esfahani, an adviser to Ahmadinejad, accused Mousavi of not trying to calm his supporters.

" 'The weakness is in Mir Hossein Mousavi's political behaviour. ... He is currently issuing statements inviting his supporters to take to the streets. That will not solve any problem,' he told Al Jazeera on Monday.

"'Rallies will ultimately contribute to abuse, setting buses on fire, bloodshed and constant insecurity for the people.' "

June 22 reports: Intensity and volatility
Saeed Valadbaygee, has been writing dispatches from inside Iran on his Revolutionary Road blog. In the last 36 hours those dispatches have become more clipped, more hurried than they have been in the past week:

"Isa Sahrkhiz, Journalist arrested 1 hr. ago in Tehran, More than 25 Journalist Arrested in less than 1 week.

"Hezbollah attacked to Etemad Meli Newspaper."

"7:03: Islamic Republic' state tv is asking 'citizens' to help identify and arrest protestors

"7:05: all the cell phones in the areas of hafte tir, enghelab and azadi are currently disconnected

"7:10: cell networks are currently down at hafte tir, enghelab and azadi square

"7:13: Police and basiji all over tehran, but candles appearing every corner, ever avenue, every alleyway

"8:00: Police & plain cloths usings tear gas, pepper spray and batons to disperse crowd

"8:3 Plain Cloths now in front of Kalameh newspaper place in Hafte Tir Sq. Journalists are stuck in the building "8:33: Police Using Gunfire, Tear gas,Electric Bat. Clashes at Enghelab SQ"

Even small gatherings blocked
From Britain's Times Online June 22:

"Police in helmets and wielding clubs fired at least seven rounds of tear gas and arrested up to 60 people at a rally in Haft-e Tir square, a popular shopping destination in the heart of Tehran, a witness said.

"The Guards — an elite force set up in the wake of the 1979 revolution — threatened a 'decisive and revolutionary' riposte to any further unrest as the Islamic regime battles to contain an escalating crisis over the election. Video: This video is no longer available

"The warning came after state radio said at least 457 people had been detained in street clashes in Tehran on Saturday that left at least 13 dead ...

"Witnesses said that helicopters hovered overhead as the protesters gathered at Haft-e-Tir Square. But hundreds of anti-riot police quickly put an end to the demonstration and prevented any gathering, even of small groups, at the scene.

"At a nearby subway station, police did not allow anyone to stand still, asking them to keep on walking and separating those who walked together."

A warning falling on 'deaf ears'
"Iran's Revolutionary Guards, a military unit, has threatened to crush further protests over the country's disputed June 12 presidential election," reported Arab news agency Al Jazeera on June 22.

"But the warning, issued on Monday, fell on deaf ears as shortly afterwards hundreds of people gathered in central Tehran, piling fresh pressure on the country's leadership.

"Witnesses described riot police taking up position as they confronted around 1,000 opposition supporters ... Despite the deaths, arrests, and an earlier warning from Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader, the demonstrators have appeared to be undeterred.

"Alireza Zaker-Esfahani, an adviser to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president, criticised Mousavi for not trying to calm his supporters.

" 'The weakness is in Mir Hossein Mousavi's political behaviour ... He is currently issuing statements inviting his supporters to take to the streets. That will not solve any problem,' " he told Al Jazeera on Monday.

" 'Rallies will ultimately contribute to abuse, setting buses on fire, bloodshed and constant insecurity for the people.'

"He also said that once the security situation in the country has escalated, the president and other politicians have to step back and let security forces handle the situation.

" 'The security forces are the ones who should lay down plans and execute them, whereas Ahmadinejad, his interior ministry and all other political forces can only enter the scene if and when the security situation becomes one of political interactions. Ahmadinejad cannot do anything now,' " Zaker-Esfahani said ...

"The Iranian government, meanwhile, has also cracked down on independent media reporting on the protests, and imposed severe restrictions on foreign journalists.

"At least 23 journalists have so far been detained by authorities, according to the Reporters without Borders organisation, and a BBC correspondent has been expelled from the country."

'Ground is paved' to 'chase' Mousavi
"Iranian politician calls for Moussavi's arrest" was the headline in Monday's Al Arabiya, an Arab news channel, with this report:

" 'Mousavi's calling for illegal protests and issuing provocative statements have been a source of recent unrests in Iran ... Such criminal acts should be confronted firmly,' said Ali Shahrokhi, head of parliament's judiciary committee, semi-official Fars news agency reported.

"' The ground is paved to legally chase Mousavi,' " he said shortly after the elite Revolutionary Guards warned they would crack down on any election-related unrest.

"...Mousavi made a veiled appeal to the security forces to show restraint in handling demonstrations — a move likely to be viewed with deep suspicion by a conservative leadership that has vowed to use force wherever necessary to quell opposition

"State radio said on Monday that the capital had been calm overnight for the first time since the June 12 election."

Al Arabiya: Shuttered Sunday
The news channel, based in Dubai, said Sunday its Tehran bureau "has been ordered to remain closed indefinitely for 'unfair reporting' of last week's disputed presidential election.

" 'The authorities accuse Al Arabiya of diffusing news that is not necessarily fair from their point of view,'  said channel's executive news manager, Nabil al-Khatib, adding that the channel had not done anything that was in violation of Iranian law and had appealed to the government about what it saw as a campaign against the station in the official Iranian media.

"' They have ordered that we do not broadcast any news about Iran, saying Al Arabiya in Dubai does not comply with what Al Arabiya's office in Tehran was ordered to do,' " he said.

June 19  reports: Toll still not known
An accurate toll of those killed, injured and arrested in Iran is still not known. But, according to Saeed Valadbaygee, writing from inside Iran on his blog: "At least 43 people have been killed by agents of the Revolutionary Guards, anti-riot force and other suppressive forces during the first five days of the people's nationwide uprising.

"Thirty of these people were killed in Tehran while 13 others died in other cities including Esfahan, Shiraz, Mashhad, Yazd, Kermanshah and Khorram-Abad. Among them were minors and elderly mothers."

Valadbaygee also reports that "medical staff at Hezar-Takhtekhabi Hospital in Tehran have gone on strike against the kidnapping of those injured in the nationwide uprising. Agents of the suppressive forces have for the past several days besieged the hospital and kidnapped those injured and transferred them to prison without prior treatment.

"Following the nationwide uprising and the regime’s barbaric actions toward the people, nothing can justify negotiating with and appeasing this medieval (sic) regime. The time has come for the international community to sever ties and impose comprehensive sanctions against the regime immediately.

"Agents of the Islamic Republic’ notorious Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) and their liaison center on campus ... late on Tuesday raided the dormitory for female students at Abu-Ali Sina University in Hamedan. They assaulted the female students and arrested a number of them, dragging them on the ground into vehicles belonging to the MOIS. In another raid on the university earlier in the evening a number of other students were arrested.

"More than 30 students have thus far been arrested at this university."

'An ordinary man'
Arab news channel Al Arabiya reported June 19 that Khamenei "accused 'agents' of the West and Zionism of operating inside Iran and said they were the ones who started the riots in which cars were burned and property damaged as well as killing eight people.

"Hours after Khamenei's speech, the United Kingdom summoned its Iranian ambassador to complain about the speech in which the leader labeled Britain 'the most evil' of Iran's enemies and European Union leaders called on the republic to allow peaceful protests.

"...With regards to U.S. criticism of the heavy-handed police tactics being used on protestors, Khamenei sarcastically noted Iran did not need human rights advice from those are not even concerned about human rights."

Among the comments posted with the story was this one, from Mohammed Qutubuddin Khaja: "Ayatollah is an ordinary man, he doesn't represent Islam."

'It all points to heavy crackdowns'
The BBC's Tehran correspondent, Jon Leyne, "says that Ayatollah Khamenei appears to have staked everything on this election result and Mr. Ahmadinejad," the news organization said on its site.

"It all points to heavy crackdowns if the protests continue, our correspondent says. ...Amnesty International said it was 'extremely disturbed' by the speech, saying that it indicated the 'authorities' readiness to launch violent crackdowns if people continue to protest.'

"Amnesty says latest reports suggest that around 15 protesters have been killed and hundreds more injured or arrested by security forces."

Cheating 'not allowed'
Britain's Times Online reported: "The Islamic establishment would never commit 'treason' by manipulating the vote," the Ayatollah Khamenei said. 'The legal mechanisms in our country do not allow cheating.'

"The 11 million-vote gap between Mr. Ahmadinejad's tally and that of Mr. Mousavi made a mockery of claims that the result was fixed, he suggested. If anyone had evidence to the contrary they should pursue it through legal channels.

"Mr. Khamenei demanded an end to the demonstrations. 'I want to tell everyone these things must finish. These street actions are being done to put pressure on leaders but we will not bow in front of them,' he said.

"Without naming the three losing candidates who have challenged the election results, he ordered them to 'open their eyes' and see behind the demonstrations 'the enemy hands working, the hungry wolves waiting in ambush.'

"He added, with distinct menace: 'Those politicians who somehow have influence on people should be very careful about their behaviour if they act in an extremist manner ...This extremism will reach a sensitive level which they will not be able to contain. They will be responsible for the blood, violence and chaos.' "

Protests 'must finish'
From Arab news agency Al Jazeera on Friday: "Amnesty International, a UK-based human rights group, said on Friday that it believed 15 people had been killed as the protests have spilled over into violence, compared with just seven deaths reported on Iranian state radio ...

"Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader, has backed the outcome of the country's presidential elections and warned protests against it must stop.

" 'I want to tell everyone these (protests) must finish.'

"He said that any doubts concerning the re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as the president after the June 12 election would be investigated through legal channels.

"If the supporters of defeated candidates fail to halt the protests 'they will be responsible for its consequences, and consequences of any chaos,' he said.

"The speech was a rare public address by Khamenei, who usually only speaks in public at the end of Ramadan and the anniversary of the Iranian revolution, which brought the theocracy to power."

Another way to get the word out
University students and recent graduates of the University of Chicago have set up IranFax.org, a site that is offering a "channel of last resort" to Twitter and other electronic means for getting information out of Iran by arranging a fax link between someone in Iran and the outside world.

"Make sure to only do this with someone you trust completely!" the site advises. "If the Internet in Iran is cut off or severely restricted, start sending fax reports through your trusted links. Remember that even a trusted connection can be tapped, so we recommend using public fax machines or fax machines open to a large number of people.

"We will also remove any identifying or sensitive information that we see, including the name, number and location of the resender. We will have 2 people read each fax and check for any accidentally identifying details so that we can be sure each message is safe."

In Abu Dhabi: no more protests
Iranians holding protests in Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates, were told to stop protesting, according to a report Thursday in The National, Abu Dhabi's English-language newspaper:

"Iranian protesters were this morning ordered to disperse on the fifth day of demonstrations outside the Iranian consulate ... Protesters were granted permission by the Ministry of Interior on Tuesday to continue demonstrations until 7pm today.

"However, the 70 protesters who congregated outside the consulate this morning were refused the right to stand opposite the consulate building by members of the Dubai police and the CID.

" 'They had their chance (to protest) for the last four days,' said Capt. Ahmad al Mirri, from the national security apparatus of Dubai. 'They have delivered their message to the Iranian government.

" 'They are not allowed to protest anymore,' he added, saying that they had orders to stop any future protests, received from high-level officials."

June 18 reports: 'Silent, keep calm'
One witness at the march said participants "carried pictures of Mousavi and placards like 'We have not had people killed to compromise and accept a doctored ballot box' and 'Silent, keep calm,' " according to Al Jazeera June 18.

Mousavi, the Arab news agency reported, "announced that a rally scheduled for Friday had been cancelled, and that his supporters should prepare for a major march planned for Saturday afternoon from Tehran's Revolution Square to Freedom Square.

"Mousavi has applied for a permission at the interior ministry but it is unclear whether this would be issued.

"About 100 people gathered outside the United Nations building in Tehran earlier on Thursday urging the Guardian Council to take action over the disputed poll.

"Officials have barred the foreign media from covering such 'unauthorised' events.

'However, they are expected to ensure a heavy turnout for a special sermon to be delivered by Ayatollah Ali Khameini, the country's supreme leader, at the Tehran University campus on Friday."

'Impossible' to know true death toll
News site TehranBureau.com reported that the Association of Human Rights Activists in Iran "can confirm the deaths of 32 Iranian citizens connected to the events of June 14 and June 15, based on its own fieldwork and despite numerous other reports.

"Most of these citizens lost their lives in the attack on Tehran University dormitories on June 14 and the opening of fire by the paramilitary Basij forces on June 15. ...

"In a statement, the public relations office of The Office to Consolidate Unity (Iran’s biggest student organization) yesterday reported the killing of at least seven students during the attack on dormitories of Tehran University and other universities around the country (Amnesty International said on June 15 there had been five deaths).

"According to numerous and confirmed reports, the morgue at the Rasul Akram Hospital in Tehran has also stored eight people, who lost their lives during the shooting at defenseless people on Monday June 15.

"In addition, Azerbaijani human rights activists have reported the killing of two citizens of Orumiyeh during fights in that city on June 15.

"Finally, sources among the doctors at Erfan Hospital (which contains ICU, CCU, NICU and 14 emergency operation rooms) in Western Tehran reported that 15 people were dead in the hospital, all connected to the shooting on June 15.

"Reports of civilian deaths across the country received by the association are very high. However, it is impossible to confirm these because of the highly militarized atmosphere and widespread arrests, so the association can only vouch for the deaths detailed above but will continue the process of documentation and reporting."

'Everyone is really depressed'
Also from TehranBureau.com, a report from "a contact" on what is happening in Sanandaj, capital of the northwestern Iranian province of Kurdistan.

"He said Kordestan (Kurdistan) is ‘quiet, for now’, that they all backed Mousavi because he had promised that in provinces where there was a second language it could be taught in schools.

"He said — we are so desperate we are not even bargaining for autonomy or anything, just for our language to be allowed at school … Which I think sums up a lot of Mousavi’s support, he’s not offering a lot but he is the only one offering certain groups anything at all that they can relate to. My guy also works at the farmadary (military headquarters) in Sanandaj and he says there is no way Ahmadinejad won. He says of course he had support from rural people but all towns were with Mousavi.

"He also said —everyone is really depressed, you really see it on the faces of the young people, stunned and depressed."

'Where are our brothers?'
Arab news channel Al Arabiya reported on the June 18 march:

"Witnesses said Imam Khomeini Square was packed with people dressed in black and holding candles, a day after Mousavi called on his supporters to gather in mosques or at peaceful rallies to show solidarity with the victims and their families.

" 'Where are our brothers?' read one banner in the crowd. 'Why did you kill our brothers?' read another ...

"The media watchdog Reporters Without Borders said a dozen Iranian journalists and bloggers have been arrested and many others have gone into hiding."

Republic 'has gone astray'
In a June 18 commentary, The Economist wrote that "the unrest is not, or not yet, about the basic underpinnings of the system created by Iran’s 1979 revolution. Protesters have deliberately dressed modestly, enlisting religious symbolism to appeal to the notions of injustice and redemption that lie at the heart of Shia Islam.

"It is about feelings, shared on both sides of the divide, that the Islamic Republic has gone astray. The split reflects not only a polarised electorate, but also a deep and growing schism within the ruling establishment ...

"The more immediate concern is that Mr. Ahmadinejad may impose a form of martial law. There are already ominous signs of such a move, as arrests of prominent reformists widen, censorship and controls on communication tighten, and feared vigilantes of the Baseej lash out with impunity.

"Given the machinery of oppression at his disposal, Mr. Ahmadinejad could probably maintain power by force, though no one can say for sure where the army stands. But force would devastate the image of a state that he exalts as the pinnacle of good governance. Moreover, Mr. Ahmadinejad would need the support of the far more cautious, consensus-seeking supreme leader, and this is far from assured."

From 'South Park' to serious
From the San Francisco Chronicle is the story of a 25-year-old IT director who is helping set up proxy servers for those in Iran to use to communicate.

"Little about Austin Heap's first online venture, a site hosting free episodes of the cartoon 'South Park,' suggested he would one day use his computer skills to challenge a government.
But for the past few days, Heap ... has been on the virtual front lines of the crisis in Iran, helping people there protest the presidential election, which opponents of the incumbent regime maintain was fraudulent."

Heap "has never followed Iranian news much. But as reports of the election began dominating Twitter —but not, he believed, American mainstream news — Heap felt the same defiant frustration that led him in the past to butt heads with the music and movie industry associations by creating file-sharing sites.

" 'I believe in free information,' he said Tuesday. 'And I especially have no room for a tyrannical regime shutting up a whole population. I was 13 and able to take on a huge company like Comedy Central from my bedroom. With a computer, everybody has the power to do that.' "

Photoshop at work?
"Ahmadinejad sucks at Photoshop," was one of the headline at BoingBoing.net, with a photo of a crowd of people with smiling faces at a "pro-Ahmadinejad rally (that) appears to have been clone-tool enhanced," said the site.

The day before, the site advised those trying to help Iranians with Internet access to not publicize Internet Protocol addresses — the numeral address of a computer — on Twitter, or to use the site's "hashtag," or short-hand phrase of "#iranelection."

"Security forces are monitoring this hashtag, and the moment they identify a proxy IP they will block it in Iran." Instead, the site said "help cover the bloggers: Change your Twitter settings so that your location is TEHRAN and your time zone is GMT +3.30. Security forces are hunting for bloggers using location and time zone searches. If we all become 'Iranians' it becomes much harder to find them."

From 'Revolutionary Road'
Saeed Valadbaygee calls his blog Revolutionary Road. His work has been covered by French and British publications, and Wednesday's blog entries included these reports:

"The widespread arrest of young protestors and opponents of the regime in Tehran and most other cities which began on Saturday has gained new dimensions. Thousands have so far been arrested.

"About 900 of the detainees have been transferred to Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison. Some 350 have been put in solitary confinement in Evin and the others are being held in Ward 240 of the prison. A number of the detained have been taken to safe-houses of the Ministry of Intelligence and Security."

Valadbaygee also wrote that a student sit-in at Tehran University continues in the university's mosque.

"Farhad Rahbar, an agent who was appointed by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as dean of the university attempted to join the students in order to prevent any escalation of their actions, but his presence was met with further protests.

"Agents of the Revolutionary Guards late on Sunday raided the university dormitory and assaulted and arrested many of the students. In another development, more than 120 university professors collectively resigned in protest to the killings of students by suppressive forces, and they joined the protesters."

'Taps of discontent'
From Welt Online, the English translation of the German newspaper, Die Welt;

"In what appeared to be a first concession by authorities to the protest movement ... Iran’s top legislative body said it was prepared for a partial recount, but ruled out annulling the poll.

"The decision was taken by the 12-man Guardian Council ... Finland’s ambassador to Tehran, Heikki Puurunen, said the protests had come as a surprise to Iran’s leadership.

" 'It will continue for sure, because now in a way the taps of discontent have been opened ...There is no revolution coming in my view, but some kind of compromise will be made,' " he told Finland’s national broadcaster.

"But one middle-aged Iranian businessman who was in Tehran during the Islamic revolution three decades ago said he believed Wednesday’s mass demonstrations would go nowhere.

" 'At the end of the day nothing tangible will have changed,' said the man, who said he served as a senior official under the shah. 'It will be business as usual.' "

Media the 'mouthpiece of rioters'
Arab news agency Al Jazeera reported on the continuing tensions between the government and journalists.

"Political protesters apart, a dozen Iranian journalists and bloggers have been arrested in the aftermath of the contested presidential election, according to Reporters Without Borders.

"The government has put restrictions on foreign media coverage in Iran after the election, and authorities accused some foreign media of being the 'mouthpiece of rioters.'

" 'Some countries, in an uncalculated, hasty and rude reaction towards the illegal gatherings, have supported them contrary to democratic principles and regulations and have become the mouthpiece of the rioters' movement,' the foreign ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.

"Several Internet sites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have been blocked and the Revolutionary Guard, an elite military force, warned the country's online media users they will face legal action if their uploads 'creates tensions.' "

In the story, Al Jazeera correspondent Alireza Ronaghi said, "Their move to crack down on Web sites and blogs is against their constitutional rights, but they see things spreading out of hand, so they feel it necessary to intervene at this point."

Ronaghi also noted in while many protestors Wednesday wore green, the color of Mousavi's campaign, he thought "spotted a new trend in their outfits."

"' I saw that it was becoming a prevalent trend to wear black ribbons as well, which is a sign of mourning in Iran, a sign of sympathy for the victims who have died in protests the days before,'  he said."

'The Iranians are sophisticated people'
The June 18 edition of the Times Online has this commentary about Iran's censorship and expulsion of foreign correspondents:

"Censorship is never the best way of winning hearts and minds. Any country that tries to hide its own affairs arouses the justified suspicion that it has something to hide. It was clear from the moment that Iran tried to rig the election and falsify the results that there would be trouble.

"The Iranians are sophisticated people, and the attempt to leave them in the dark is both insulting and counter-productive. They know that their own media are forbidden to reflect the lively debate about the political, social and economic future of their country. They know that the propaganda is distorted, the television images manipulated and the official announcements mendacious.

"They have turned therefore, in their millions, to alternative sources, where they hope the truth can be revealed: Web sites, social networks, mobile phones and foreign media.

"What these sources have revealed is a massive attempt at deceiving a nation. The beatings, the shootings, the vast protest rallies and the chants of crowds incensed at the authoritarian attempt to deny them a voice have all been captured by cameras, phones and reporters sending out accounts of what is going on."

June 16 reports: Stickers on mouths
Michael J. Totten, a foreign journalist writing for Commentary magazine, reports June 16 that an Iranian, who goes by “Censored Name,” posted this on Facebook:

"What I saw today was the most elegant scene I had ever witnessed in my life. The huge number of people were marching hand in hand in full peace. Silence. Silence was everywhere. There was no slogan. No violence ... People carried placards which read: Silence. Old and young, man and woman of all social groups were marching cheerfully. This was a magnificent show of solidarity.

"Enghelab Street which is the widest avenue in Tehran was full of people. I was told that the march has begun in Ferdowsi Sq. and the end of the march was now in Imam Hossein Sq. to the further east of Tehran while on the other end people had already gathered in Azadi Sq. The length of this street is about 6 kilometers. The estimate is about 2 million people.

"On the way, we passed a police department and a militia (Baseej) base. In both places, the doors were closed and we could see fully-armed riot police and militia watching the people from behind the fences.

"Near Sharif University of Technology where the students had chased away Ahmadinejad a few days ago, Mirhossein Mousavi (the reformist elect president) and Karrubi (the other reformist candidate) spoke to people for a few minutes which was received by cries of praise and applause.

"I felt proud to find myself among such a huge number of passionate people who were showing the most reasonable act of protest. Frankly, I didn’t expect such a political maturity from emotional Iranians who easily get excited. My family and I had put stickers on our mouths to represent the suppression...

"Democracy is a long way ahead. I may not be alive to see that day. With eyes full of tear in these early hours of Tuesday 16th June 2009, I glorify the courage and bravery of those martyrs and I hope that their blood will make every one of us more committed to freedom, to democracy and to human rights. Viva Freedom, Viva Democracy, Viva Iran. "

'Mockery' of government attempts to silence
"Turmoil follows silent protest," was posted June 16 from TehranBureau.com and describes the tension in Tehran:

"Dusk on Monday witnessed the most shocking scenes so far from the aftermath to Iran’s disputed election. Events have have now escalated to a level of intensity unprecedented since the Iranian revolution of 1979.

"State media today reported 7 killed in what they described 'an attack on a military post.' The reality was far less clear cut, as suggested on Iran’s own English language news Web site PressTV.com, which reported that an 'unidentified gunmen' had fired shots into the crowd after a 'peaceful rally.'

"That 'peaceful rally' ended in gunfire, explosions and the ominous sight of flaming Molotov cocktails spinning through the air...

" 'University Alley, University Alley, murder scene, murder scene' was the written message held aloft on a makeshift paper banner. Rather than ring out in the air, the rhythmic message reverberated inside the minds of all who read it.

"Students who witnessed the previous night’s attack had described 'pressure groups' — a euphemism for Iran’s unofficial paramilitary police, the Basij — entering both the male and female dormitories of the university in full force, with tear gas canisters, batons and motorcycles.

"A defiant silence was perhaps the only adequate response to an attack of such brutality. Hundreds of thousands of people convened on Tehran’s symbolic central artery, Islamic Revolution Street, for a peaceful march to Freedom Square...

"A decree from the authorities earlier in the day had denied permission for the march to take place but the sheer weight of numbers made any crackdown impossible. Mothers with children and men and women of all ages mixed with students and young people.

"That word had spread to so many in such a short period of time made a mockery of government attempts to restrict communications. Iran’s mobile phone text message system has been disabled nationwide since polling day on Friday and Internet services such as Facebook and Twitter have been blocked.

"Despite that, the crowd today was easily comparable to the marches held every year on the 11 February to mark the anniversary of the return of Ayatollah Khomeini to Iran in 1979, which signaled the end of the Shah’s monarchy. The difference was that at pro-government rallies, the attendance of schoolteachers, students, government workers and Basij paramilitaries is compulsory.

"The handful of police which were visible on the route stood in groups of three or four taking in the spectacle. The motorcycle-riding riot police which had charged full-throttle into Saturday’s protests were nowhere to be seen. When the procession passed a Basij base, there was a call to be especially slow, quiet and to hold up the two-fingered victory salute.

"However, the fear expressed by numerous marchers on the way was that security forces would crack down after dark once protesters had begun to disperse. In the end, it began with several large fires visible on the northern edge of the square while tens of thousands of people were only beginning to head home.

"The sound of pistol shots was followed immediately by a human wave descending on a point in the crowd where, witnesses reported, a group of unidentified plain-clothed attackers had opened fire and killed one man. The flames rose higher, the sound of automatic gunfire rang across the square and the spinning flame of a Molotov cocktail hurtled toward the wall.

"After a day of silent protest, another night of turmoil in Tehran had begun."

Also on TehranBureau.com, this posting from a few days ago: "Telephone report from my wife — They are open firing on the crowd. The police are refusing entry into the hospitals unless it is the basij. refusing wounded protesters saying; 'You Deserve To Die.' "


Shop shutters: Open halfway
Britain's TimesOnline reported June 16 that "as protesters marched through the thoroughfares of Tehran, much of the city went on an unofficial strike today. Shops opened their shutters only halfway, in defiance of the vote.

"Four days after Mr. Ahmadinejad claimed re-election, the powerful Guardian Council offered a partial recount of disputed ballot boxes in response to complaints of massive electoral fraud.

"The move by the clerics on the country's highest legislative body appeared to be the first concession to the opposition after hundreds of thousands joined anti-government protests in recent days.

"But many saw it as a ploy by the mullahs to buy time before their formal endorsement of Mr. Ahmadinejad's victory. Mr. Mousavi had asked the council of clerics to annul the election and re-run it, but they rejected that demand as impossible.

"At least seven civilians were killed when members of the Basiji militia, a force of young Islamic hardliners, started shooting when their post came under attack during yesterday's mass rally.

"State radio said that the building came under attack at the end of what it called an "illegal" demonstration.

"'Some thugs in an organised and coordinated action attacked and vandalised a number of public and government buildings,' it reported. 'A military post was attacked with the intention of looting its weapons. Unfortunately, seven of our citizens were killed and a number of them injured.'

"The death toll may actually have been higher. A nurse at western Tehran’s Rasoul Akram hospital said that 28 people with 'bullet wounds' had been brought in last night, of whom eight had died.

"Mr. Ahmadinejad showed his contempt for the protests by visiting the Russian city of Yekaterinburg for a regional summit, where his re-election was effectively endorsed not just by his hosts but other nations attending, including China, India and Pakistan."

Closing the door to reporting
The world press has had increasing difficulty reporting this story. Al Arabiya, an Arab news channel, said since the "contested" election results were announced Saturday, "Iran has jammed satellite signals and the Internet, shut down Al Arabiya’s Tehran bureau and arrested several journalists.

"Australian, Belgian, Canadian, French and Italian journalists have been detained or beaten and some of their equipment confiscated, Reza Moini, Reporters Without Borders Iran researcher, told Al Arabiya.

"He said the crackdown on foreign journalists is 'because they publish truthful information about what happened and the official media do not do so.'

"Al Arabiya is worried about being banned from the chance to cover an important country like Iran during an important event like the elections and afterwards without explaining the reason behind that decision "

"Nabil Khatib, Al ArabiyaArab satellite station Al Arabiya was informed by officials Sunday that its Tehran bureau would be closed for a week and it would be prevented from broadcasting."

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