Monday, June 22, 2009

Major Iran Update

Huge happenings over the weekend:

21st of June.

Two major events happened today:

- Grand Ayatollah Montazeri went directly against Ayatollah Khamenei's wishes and declared a 3-day mourning period in Iran, while Khamenei had ordered mosques to avoid making ceremonies in the memory of the fallen victims of governmental violence.

- The Guardian Council admitted that in 50 cities, there were in fact more vote recorded than there are registered voters and said they were looking into the situation. Seeing as the GC is under direct control of Khamenei, this is very likely an attempt at damage control from people who have yet to grasp how deep the schism in Iran is. This could be an attempt to ultimately blame Ahmadinejad for the irregularities and throw him under the bus in order to save their skin, which would be a sign they don't fully realize yet what is happening.

- Aside from that, as expected there were clashes all over Iran, but subsided since the 20th. The Iranian Government went on the offensive, kicking out a BBC correspondent and attacking Western countries for what they see as meddling in Iranian internal affairs. Tomorrow Mousavi has called for a general strike all over Iran. It seems that business activity that the already paralyzed country will be stopped completely.

From the 19th to the 20th of June. post-Khamenei speech.

If anyone doubted this is a Revolution and that this was bigger than the election, there is no such doubt anymore. While Khameini directly called for them to stop, the population took the street more numerous than ever. This is direct defiance to the Supreme Leader. Here are the major events that happened between the end of Khamenei's speech and midnight on Saturday.

- Before the protest even began, heavily armed men were waiting for the dissidents, planning to prevent them from reaching the rally point. It didn't take long for the peaceful protests to turn into full-fledged riots. Security forces had also closed off the Tehran university to prevent students from leaving to protest or entering to take shelter. Basij, some security forces and what is suspected to be members of the Revolutionary Guard assaulted the protesters. The protesters fought back while chanting "Death to Khamenei" and "Down with Khamenei". The security forces used water cannons and tear gas to try and disperse the protesters. While the tear gas was partly successful, the water cannons were mostly useless, as they were quickly over ran by the protesters.

- A lot of eyewitnesses report that the Basij now fighting appear to be barely older than teenagers, most of them between 16 and 20, taking a real pleasure in the violence. Others report that up to hundreds of both security forces and Basij were injured in the last series of clashes. The Basij forces are using pvc tubes filled with concretes, bats, even knives and are assaulting people everywhere, down to metro stations.

- A bomb exploded at the Khomeini Shrine, killing one and injuring at least two. Most believe that the government is in fact behind it. Khamenei was a major figure of the previous Revolution, and they used a similar tactics then, destroying buildings and blaming it on the Shah in order to turn the population against him. The State television is of course blaming Mousavi for it and calling for a harsher treatment of the protesters. This is also very convenient for the Regime, has Mousavi said he would take refuge there if he feared for his safety, but now all access is blocked.

- In return, the harsher the treatment of protesters by the security forces, the harsher the rhetoric and reaction of the protesters. They are calling for the death of the regime, the death of Khamenei, the death of their oppressors and that they will avenge them. Once the gun shots started, the protesters went wild, beating down security forces and basij forces they caught to a pulp, while the Basij and security forces are showing absolutely no restraint, even less than they previously had.

- There are many reports that the security forces and Basij still ever present in hospitals and clinics. Basij are kidnapping some of those injured, while the security forces is identifying those participating in the protest. In order to arrest protesters, security forces raided the Khomeini Hospital in order to arrest injured protesters. There are rumours that Basij forces have hijacked ambulances and use them as a trap to brutally assault already injured protesters seeking help, or shoot at them. Iranian journalists, Reformist intellectuals and feminists are still being arrested and rounded up to prevent from reporting the news or reaching out.

- As the protests grew, extreme measures started to used by those trying to repress the Iranians asking for freedom. Gun shots were first fired in the air, but it did not take long for them to be fired at the protesters. A liquid was dropped from helicopters, creating severe skin burns on protesters. We are unsure what the liquid was. They are also openly opening fire on the crowds, 40 to 60 people at least were killed in a single day, and scores more injured according to protesters. There are also reports that Revolutionary Guard Helicopters dropped firearms crates to 500 Basij fighters, as they are more willing than government forces to use them on civilians.

- The protesters are fighting back, taking over anti-riot trucks and burning them, attacking Basij bases and burning another one to the ground. There are report that a security forces truck was actually blown up by the protesters. In many instances, government forces have been force to fled under the constant assault of the people. Another report mentioned a security forces post was burning as well.

- The Iran Fatemiyeh Hospital in Tehran has confirmed at least 40 dead as well as 200 injured. Other sources report that hundreds of security forces and hundreds of basij fighters were injured as well.

- At night the protesters joined each others on the roofs in Tehran, shouting "Allah-u Ackbar", "Margh Bar Khamenei" and chanting "I will welcome death, I will welcome death, but no subjugation, but no subjugation". None of the rhetoric is addressed to Ahmadinejad anymore, all of it is directed to Khamenei and the regime. Many of the popular chants throughout the day were "I will kill those who killed my brother/sister", "Death to the Government", "Death to Khamenei" and "Seyed Ali Pinoshe, Iran won't be Chile".

- China has been censoring all news coming from Iran. Obama's restraint has been useless, as the Iranian government has shown a video of him with a false translation where Obama declared his support for the protesters, and that they should keep on protesting.

- Mousavi gave a speech and declared that if he is arrested, then the whole nation should strike. He also told the people that he is ready for martyrdom.

- There are unconfirmed reports that the Army is now refusing to follow orders and will not attack the protesters. The newest strategy from the government seems to be arming the Basij, dressing them in riot gear, team them up with IRG soldiers, and try to prevent massive rallies and keep them localized instead, as they are easier to stop spreading.


Istill don't think people realize the hugeness of all this. This is one of the most hardline Islamic countries attemtping to overthrow thier Islamic dictators.

3 comments:

JDTapp said...

Article in yesterday's WSJ about how Iran is now thwarting the online efforts better.

In books I've read about Iran it seems the basij are sort of like the fashion police, they ride around town in their pickup trucks and harangue anyone not dressed "properly" or intoxicated, etc. They're basically just thugs. One article I read yesterday called them an "elite" force, which is ridiculous.

But I'm skeptical the army is refusing to follow orders. I saw one general quoted as saying "We lost 700,000 in the Iraq war and we're not going to see what we fought for get ruined by the hands of people too young and spoiled to remember it." My guess is they're just not mobilizing because it appears the basij and police are doing a good enough job of dispersing crowds.
I have no idea, though.

A decent Iranian op-ed in the WSJ yesterday basically said "Reaching out to Iran is pointless, as is pretending anything we say matters. Albright apologized for the 1950s, Bush Sr. extended an olive branch. Iran didn't respond. The mullahs don't care who is president of U.S."

JDTapp said...

Well, looks like the opposition is fractured as the strike didn't go off yesterday and today's called demonstration was weak. Could be a long 4 years for those people.

JDTapp said...

Looks like I was wrong about today's demonstrations. But it looks like the ruling powers are now successfully squashing their rivals.