Josh ShahryarFor original post, go to http://iran.whyweprotest.net/news-current-events/1966-green-brief-6-niteowl.html
Please retweet this link. I'm Josh Shahryar AKA NiteOwl - iran_translator on twitter - and I've been immersed in tweets from Iran for the past several hours. I have tried to be extremely careful in choosing my tweet sources and have tried maximally to avoid listening to media banter. What I have compiled below is what I can confirm through my tweets to have happened in the past day and in the past week in Iran. Remember, this is all from tweets. There is NOTHING included here that is not from a reliable tweet. No news media outlets have been used in the compilation of this short brief as I would like to call it.
These are the important happenings that I can positively confirm from Monday, June 22 in Iran. (If I cannot positively confirm, I have indicated that I can't.)
1. Protests were held throughout Tehran today. The main protest was held at 7 Tir Square where 3-5 thousand people gathered to remember and mourn Neda – the protester killed on Saturday. However, soon hundreds of IRG, police, Basij and plainclothesmen gathered and violently tried to disperse the protesters. It took hours to disperse all the protesters. The security forces used batons and fired tear gas shells as well as firing weapons in the air. Dozens of people were injured, including many women. Helicopters were flying over Tehran for the second day. There were also reports of helicopters firing tear gas shells at people – they have not been fully confirmed.
2. There was also a gathering of about 1,000 people in Valiasr Avenue, meeting security forces who sparked a confrontation. It was not as violent as the one on 7 Tir, but many people were injured there as well. There was a huge rally held by Ahmadinejad’s supporters at Valiasr for his victory speech. The participants were mostly people from the provinces, children and older Iranians. There were also a large number of government employees.
3. News of protests around the country was not relayed through tweets much today; however, sources confirmed that at least some rallies and protests were held in Tabriz where protesters met with violent attacks by the security forces. Later in the night as people chanted Allah o Akbar from the rooftops, there were reports of clashes in northern and western Tehran between protesters and security forces. Chants of Allah o Akbar also echoed across the country. Candles were lit throughout the country in memory of protesters that have been killed so far. The number of confirmed deaths stands close to 50 now and there have been more than a thousand injured.
4. Sources claim that the government is considering expelling some diplomatic missions because they’ve helped protesters or are accused of masterminding the unrest. The government earlier in the day alleged that the US had paid 400 million dollars to people in order to organize unrest in Iran. They also blamed the UK and Germany – saying the latter was coaxed into taking action by Israel – how Israel manages to coax other countries was beyond our sources… The Guardian Council has now announced that there were 3 million extra votes cast. Other information is unreliable at this point or various sources exist.
5. The government is actively trying to suppress news from getting out. BBC and Al-Arabiya’s correspondents were told to get out in 24 hours, twitter sites are being hacked, people are being tricked into getting out late at night by others chanting in the streets who are actually Basijis and the spread of spam and propaganda on twitter. The government has also established dozens of sites with pictures of protesters, asking people to identify them. At least two of these sites that were based abroad have been taken down by hackers sympathetic to Iranians today.
6. There are sporadic reports coming in from Qom at this point. Sources claim that Rafsanjani who was in Qom has had meetings with clerics inside Qom. It has been also reported – but not confirmed – for the past three days that Ayatollah Montazeri has declared a three days’ mourning period. It likely is a hoax because it has not been confirmed by anyone. What can be confirmed is that the Council of Combatant Clerics – which includes in its members Rafsanjani and Nateq Noori – have backed the protesters. Khamanei is going to lead Friday prayers in Tehran. If there was a speech, we'll have a translation availble here within the hour.
7. Hamzeh Ghalebi, head of Mousavi's youth headquarters and Reza Homaye, another reformist and backer of Mousavi, have been arrested. There have been arrests of numerous other reformists and backers of Mousavi, Karoubi, Noori and Rafsanjani. The total number of people that have been arrested is still anyone’s guess. Reports indicate somewhere between five and ten thousand.
8. Tuesday has been declared a national strike by Mousavi and his backers. Already close to half of the shops in Tehran were closed on Sunday. (Sunday is not a holiday in Iran; Friday is.) It has been reported that in the provinces, people are excited about the news and many important figures in provinces are openly or secretly backing the call. The government is threatening people that they’ll be fired if they didn’t show up at their jobs on Tuesday.
9. Thursday, rallies will be held in Tehran. The location of the major rally in the city has not been disclosed. According to sources, this has been done so that the government couldn’t be prepared. In anticipation, the government has placed thousands of police and Basiji inside Tehran, turning stadiums into headquarters and areas for gathering for these security forces.
10. Our sources have strongly denounced the commercialization of the Sea of Green (That’s what most of them call the protests) by various people around the world. They have especially disliked how some people put advertisements on twitter with #iran or #iranelection on them as well as #neda. They have also shown outrage over the fact that Nokia and Siemens were exposed to have supplied the Iranian government with equipment to help censor their voices on the internet and over cell phones.
11. Finally, Mousavi has yet again called on the people of the world to rally in support of the plight of Iran’s people on Thursday. This is the second time Mousavi has called on citizens of Planet Earth to stand up and support the voices of Iranians.
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People Outside Iran: This is as clear and concise as I can be. I have not included ANYTHING that I have sensed to be remotely fishy, but human error will always manifests itself in even the most flawless of non-mathematical things. However, this includes nothing from the Western media, including the BBC which I have been generously using to inform people and I laud them for their courageous journalism.
People Inside Iran: Don't believe a WORD of what I am telling you. Do what you think is best, keeping everything in mind. I know LITTLE of what you know so make your decisions based on your OWN judgment.
People Who Want to Send Me Tweet Links: You don't need to find me, I will find you. Don't hassle yourself. Your voice will be heard through millions of others like me.
People Who Want to Hunt Me Down: I'm an Afghan. If you ever tried to attack me, you'll see my back only after your back has met the ground.
P.S. Please post this around and tweet and retweet.
She was a young woman with her future in front of her. She had a fiancée, she had a future, she loved her people and wanted freedom. Now she is dead, robbed from life for simply being an observer. She is now the face of the Revolution. She is now the face of victims of tyranny everywhere.
The video of her death (NSFW), Neda a few moments before her death.
Article on Neda's life and death. A partial interview with her Fiancée.
If you want to link this, here is the website, updated as the situation changes:
And now, some Background Information
The Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran
- The legislative branch of the Iranian is threefold. There is the Parliament, the Expediency Discernment Council of the System and the Guardian Council, which reigns Supreme, although it is itself under review of the Assembly of Experts, which itself does not intervene in politics.
- The Majlis is the Iranian Parliament, with a body of 290 members (5 of them representing the non-Muslim minorities). Members are voted in for terms of 4 years. While the members of the Majlis may appear to benefit from a certain leeway, and can introduce new legislation, each and every member or legislation has to first be approved by the Guardian Council. Reformists and other dissidents have often remarked that the electoral process in the Majlis is in fact nothing more than a theater, where Ayatollahs decide who is permitted to hold seats, and what laws they are permitted to vote for.
- Presidency is Iran is the highest position that is elected through popular vote, but not far from the most important in terms of power. As for possible candidates for positions in the Majlis, in order to run for Presidential election one must first be accepted as a candidate by the Guardian Council. Criteria for selection include religious observance and loyalty to the principles of the Islamic Revolution. While the President technically has the power to sign treaties with other countries, appoint ministers and many other Presidential functions, reality is that anything other than a minor decision is usually reviewed by the Guardian Council first. He also has no authority on the armed forces, nuclear program and the general lines of domestic and foreign policies.
Expediency Discernment Council of the System
- Although officially created as a mediator between the Guardian Council and the Majlis, the EDC finds itself to be nothing more than unofficial right arm of the Supreme Leader. It is composed of 34 members, the vast majority issued from the very conservative parties. Unlike the Majlis, however, it also has the authority to enact temporary laws for a duration of 3 years, by-passing the authority or oversight of the Majlis.
- The Guardian Council is the real seat of Power in Iran. The 12 members of this Council are decided by the Supreme Leader, who controls the Council. 6 of them are clerics that the Supreme Leader handpicks, while the six other members are lawyers submitted by the head of the Judiciary system, himself appointed by the Supreme Leader. The Guardian Council is not only the highest political authority, but it is also the Religious authority in Iran, and considered the Guardian of the Revolution, thus its name. The Council plays a very important role in keeping what it consider the right Islamic system in place for Iran, but it also controls its political activities. While the Council itself does not submitted bills, it controls the political life in Iran through the policies of the Majlis it allows or refuses to come to fruition, or asks the EDC to pass certain laws. Another way it exerts its influence on the political process is by being able to reject or accept any candidate for elections, whether parliamentary or presidential.
- The Supreme Leader is considered the Leader of the Revolution, his position enshrined in the Iranian Constitution. He is elected to the position by the Assembly of Experts, a religious council. The title is not mere rhetoric; he is the all-powerful ruler of the Republic, who appoints everyone from commanders of the Army to heads of state-controlled Media, from Judges to who is permitted to run for office, and everyone important in-between. He is also the Religious leader of Iran, and as such decides the appointments of clerics in various organizations and mosques. He controls the domestic and foreign affairs of Iran through the Guardian Council and EDC, as well as the armed forces.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei
- The current Supreme Leader is Ayatollah Khamenei, successor of Ayatollah Khomeini. He was not originally slated to be replacement of Khomeini, but the first candidate for succession had a falling-out with Khomeini over the violent repression of student revolts and was dismissed and Khamenei stepped in. He has been the Supreme Leader of Iran since 1989, when the previous and first Supreme Leader died. He had been a key player during the 1979 Revolution, then became President of Iran from 1981 until his ascension as Supreme Leader. He is considered a very conservative figure and a close confident of the previous Supreme Leader, but was not considered for succession until Grand Ayatollah Montazeri, a rather liberal cleric, criticized the government for the torture and repression of students and lost his place in succession.
Assembly of Experts
- The Assembly of Experts is a body composed of 86 Islamic jurists specialized in the interpretation and application of Sharia, Islamic law. In order to qualify as a possible candidate, one must be known as a devout Muslim and a scholar, someone who believes in upholding the Islamic Revolution and agreed upon by the Government. Then, they are elected by public vote for 8 years terms. They have the power to elect and remove the Supreme Leader.
- Ayatollah Rafsanjani is the current head of the Assembly of Expert. He took over the Presidency from Khamenei in 1989, and stayed in office until 1997. He is seen as a conservative, but relatively moderate and centrist figure, fiercely opposed to Ahmadinejad's behavior and he is known as a critic of current Supreme Leader Khamenei. He supports opening the relations with the United States completely, as well as agreeing to the United States' demands regarding the Iranian nuclear program, and a free-market approach to the economy.
The 2009 Iranian election
The President in Iran is elected through direct vote. The last election was won in 2005 by candidate Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, amidst claims of irregularities and possible vote tampering by the opposition, but no major protests, complaints or actions were taken. Four years later, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad presented himself in order to retain his position and won in an unlikely landslide on the 13th of July in an election with record participation. The deadline was in fact pushed back in order to allow everyone to vote. Due to many factors that will be elaborated later, the Reformist candidates protested at the news of his victory and the population started protesting while the police and government-backed militias tried to quell the protests.
- Ahmadinejad, President of Iran from 2004-2009, was declared winner of elections panned by almost all as fraudulent. Advocates a belligerent attitude toward the West, he has been widely seen as a disappointment and downright failure in Iran due to his inability to rectify economical problems, and lack of accomplishments. He originates from a rural, strongly religious working-class background, a background he shares with the bulk of his domestic supporters. He was accused of bribery during the race. He previously occupied the position of governor and mayor of Tehran. He his known as close to Khamenei and his favorite in the race.
- Rezaee was the chief commander of the Revolutionary Guard for more than 15 years. He then became a teacher of Economics. He is described as conservative, but more pragmatic than Ahmadinejad, and condemned Ahmadinejad's comments on the Holocaust and Israel as having no benefits and only drawbacks. He is currently on the wanted list of Interpol as the planning the attack on the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires in 1992, as well as the 1994 suicide bombing against a Jewish cultural center in Argentina that killed 85, and injured hundreds.
- Mousavi is widely believed to have won this election. He is a Reformist voice, very close to former President Khatami. He was previously the fifth and last Prime Minister of Iran. Due to his central role in the current revolution and Iran's possible future, I am preparing a major profile and will update this in the next update or two
- Karroubi is a centrist figure, on the side of the Reformists but at the same time still very loyal to the Islamic Revolution, especially Khomeini's ideals. His views mostly resonates in rural areas, where he picks up most of the votes that do not go to Ahmadinejad. He has been a constant critic of Ayatollah Rafsanjani and his free-market policies, which he sees as possibly harmful to the bulk of his supporters. He is extremely vocal about his support for the rights of women and minorities, and he believes that all Iranian citizens should be completely equal.
Khamenei's landmark speech
A relatively large crowd was present to hear Khamenei declared during the prayers, while Reformist leaders called on their supporters to stay home. It was very easy to notice that this crowd was also much older than those we have seen protesting.
There were two sermons, a religious one and a political one.
- The religious sermon itself was rather short and stayed on topic. It concentrated at first on peace and tranquility, leading into the fact that the Revolution was the Will of Allah, that it was sacred and its goals were the goals of Allah. He continued by asking Allah victory over their common enemies, and that people who went against the Revolution were enemies of Allah.
- The political speech was much longer and disjointed. He started by thanking everyone for the election, then he proceeded to blame the West, claimed that Iran was one of the most democratic country on Earth and that the results were not rigged. He claimed that while yes, there is some corruption in Iran, it's nowhere near the UK MP expenses scandal. He then directly threatened the pro-Reformists leaders, saying that all the violence will be their responsibility. This is all the works of Zionist spies and British radio, and Hillary Clinton was responsible for Waco so Iran is better than America and the West.
There are three major statements to be gleaned from these speech, with further confirmation of a fourth. However boring and long-winded it might have been to the Western ear, it was a major milestone of this revolution, and its implications are far-reaching:
1 - His declaration that the Islamic Revolution sacred, that its goals were the goals of Allah and that those who went against it were the enemies of Allah. He then asked Allah victory over the enemies.
This is major. He has in fact painted the entire reformist movement as being anti-Islamic. Due to his position, and the tone that he adopted, this is basically a death sentence delivered to those who will keep on protesting. Not unexpected, but a bold move nonetheless.
2 - He fully supports Ahmadinejad.
This is not a surprise, but he did not back down one inch. He does not give credibility to any of the Reformist claims, and says to either toe the line, or suffer the consequences.
3 - He has put the responsibility of violence on the shoulders of the Reformist leaders, and openly declared that he is not going to tolerate it anymore.
This means that the repression from now on will be much more violent, and has more or less openly threatened the leaders of the Revolution that they will pay with their lives if they continue.
4 - As confirmed by Stratfor, the Revolutionary Guard has taken over from the police in all matters of domestic law and order. This effectively means that they are going to start crushing dissent as well, and that they have allied themselves to the regime.
Out of all major developments, this is the biggest one. Will the army stay Neutral, toe the line or side with the Reformists?
Suppression of Dissent - The Players
Currently, there are two or three, maybe four, groups who are suppressing the students on the ground that you'll read about throughout this thread:
1. The Basij
2. Ansar Hizbullah (which I will refer to as Ansar)
3. Lebanese Hizbullah (Unconfirmed rumour but either a probable or a persistent one. Der Spiegel, based on a Voice of America report, says that 5,000 Hizbullah fighters are currently in Iran masquerading as riot police, confirming the independent reports. Iran Press News has posted two photographs of men they claim are Hizbullah and Hamas mercenaries. Many different independent reports and video point that way. Even in the last days other independent twitter feeds have declared witnessing thugs beating on people while shouting in Arabic; I will refer to them as Hizbullah)
4. Lebanese Hamas (unconfirmed and doubtful. This rumour has been cropping up, with some of the most twitter feeds saying they had visual confirmation of Lebanese Hamas fighters along with Lebanese Hizbullah member. You should definitely take with a grain of salt, but it has been mentioned often enough, by sources generally always right, that it deserves of a mention here. Iran Press TV also claims to have posted a picture of Hamas mercenaries. I will refer to them as Hamas)
- The Basij are your regular paramilitary organization. They are the armed hand of the clerics. The Basij are a legal group, officially a student union, and are legally under direct orders of the Revolutionary Guard. Their main raison d'être is to quell dissent. They are the ones who go and crack skulls, force people to participate in pro-regime demonstrations, and generally try to stop any demonstrations from even starting. They are located throughout the country, in every mosque, every university, every social club you can think of. They function in a way very similar to the brownshirts.
They were the ones who first started the crackdown after the election, but it wasn't enough. While they are violent and repressive, they are still Persian and attacking fellow citizens. A beating is one thing, mass killings another.
- Another group was working with them, whose members are even more extreme, is Ansar. There is a lot of cross-membership between the Basij and Ansar, though not all are members of the other group and vice-versa. The vast majority of Ansar are Persians (either Basij or ex-military), though a lot of Arab recruits come from Lebanon and train with them under supervision of the Revolutionary Guard. They are not functioning under a legal umbrella, they are considered a vigilante group, but they pledge loyalty directly to the Supreme Leader and most people believe that they are under his control. They are currently helping the Basij to control the riots, but due to the fact that they are Persians and in lower numbers than the Basij, they are not that active.
- The Lebanese Hizbullah is a direct offshoot (and under direct control) of the Iranian Hizbullah (itself under direct control of the Supreme Leader) and cooperates closely with Ansar though Ansar occupies itself only with Iran's domestic policies, while Hizbullah occupies itself only with Iran's foreign policy unless there is a crisis like right now. However, Hizbullah has been called to stop violent riots in Iran in the past.
(The following paragraph includes some speculation based on reports from ground zero, it is no confirmed, this is what was reported early on by various twitter feeds considered credible, so do not take this as anything but unconfirmed rumours) Hizbullah flew in a lot of their members in Iran, most likely a good deal even before the elections in case there were trouble. They are the ones who speak Arabs and are unleashing the biggest level of violence on the Persians so far. Another wave arrived recently and there is chatter that yet another wave of Hizbullah reinforcements are coming in from Lebanon as we speak. According to Iranians on the ground, they are the ones riding motorcycles, beating men women and children indiscriminately and firing live ammunitions at students.
- The Lebanese Hamas is a branch of Hamas set-up in Lebanon. Like Hamas in Gaza, Hamas in Lebanon is directly under the orders of the Hamas council of Damascus known as Majlis al-Shurah. While it is surprising to hear that they might be involved, and as I said take these reports with a grain of salt until we get more confirmations, it is not illogical either. Iran has become the main benefactor of Hamas in the last years, branching out from only supporting Islamic Jihad. They now provide Hamas with the bulk of their budget, with advanced weaponry and training by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. Not only does Hamas own them a lot, but if the Republic falls, Hamas finds itself in dire trouble. It is very likely that, at the call of Iran, the Majlis al-Shura would have decided to send fighters from their Lebanese Hamas branch along with Hizbullah fighters if it was requested of them.
The Police - Iran's police force is not dissimilar to your run-of-the-mill law enforcement apparatus in other dictatorships, with the difference that they are not generally as brutal and repressive. This is because the Basij are generally in charge of these activities, meaning that Iranian policemen generally concentrate more on the law and order aspect of Iranian daily life.
Today, it is thought that the Iranian police numbers close to 60,000 members, in contrast with up to a million Basij members. This is one of the reasons why we hear much more about the plainclothes militia than we do about the police right now, the other being that the Basij and Ansar are much more willing to violently assault their fellow citizens than even the regular police force. This is not as much a testament to the decency of your average police officers as much as a damning report of what the Basij and Ansar thugs are like.
There are also subdivisions and extra-legal forces attached to the police force. The major subdivision would be the riot police (So-called Unit 110) who are actually much more violent than regular police officers, but also in much, much smaller numbers. There is also VEVAK, the secret police. Very little is known and confirmed about them, except their extreme tactics include murder, kidnapping and torture.
In Iran, there are actually two armies. They are divided between Artesh and Pasdaran.
Artesh is the regular Military apparatus of the Republic. Their numbers, including reservists, go up to a million members, but only half of them have received anything more than very basic training. As it is often the case in police states, there is very little known and confirmed about the structure of the Army itself.
They were created prior to the Iranian Revolution, in fact this army has existed in one form or another, and is a continuation, for more than 2,500 years. This is not as impressive as it sounds, however, as they often underwent drastic changes, there is no real links between the current incarnations, and the top echelons were most often purged when new rulers took power. In fact, in the last 100 years, those purges happened between two or three times, depending on the count, the last time centered around the time of the Islamic revolution, when most generals were forced to flee, killed, or killed while in exile.
Artesh took the brunt of the military casualties during the Iran-Iraq war, the army is considered to very nationalist and not extremely religious, which explains why they have declared their neutrality and refusal to repress the situation, as they see their purpose to defend the Iranian population.
Everyone agrees they will be the ultimate key to this Revolution when they finally decide to take a side, or alternatively force the Pasdaran to stay on the sidelines with them.
Pasdaran, also known as Iranian Revolutionary Guard
The Iranian Ground forces (I will focus on them, as the Navy and Air force are currently irrelevant, will update if the situation changes) have been estimated between 100,000 and 130,000 units total. As always, truth most likely resides somewhere in the middle. They are, much like the Basij and Ansar, subservient directly to the Supreme Leader, and ideologically created in the spirit of defending the Islamic Revolution ideals and Republic, not Iran per se. They also control the Basij.
They are a child of the revolution, and they are more geared toward guerilla warfare than they are for military engagements. They are also the force responsible for training the various terrorist groups financed and supported by the Iranian government. They are fanatically devoted to the Republic through intense indoctrination.
The elite troops are called Quds. They are considered the elite of the elite, but they only number between 2000-6000, although rumours say that they are twice or three time as big. They are, however, rumours and quite unlikely.
Ultimately, the Revolutionary Council and the Supreme Leader will call on them if they think they are on the verge of losing power, however it is unlikely that the army will just stay on the sidelines if this happens.
The Grand Ayatollahs
The Grand Ayatollahs are Shiite clerics who first attained the position of Ayatollahs and then, through their knowledge of Islamic Jurisprudence, attained a supreme position and are regarded as the most important voice in Shia Islam today. They revolve around the holy Shiite city of Qom, though some live outside Iran.
Demands from the protesters
Today, Mousavi gave an important speech. Here's the video, and translation
"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 return to Iran our pride, our dignity, our future. I have come to bring to Iran a FUTURE of FREEDOM, of HOPE. I have come to represent the poor the helpless 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 - CORRUPTION - where is the wealth of my nation? What have you done with $300 BILLION in last 4 years - where is the wealth of the nation? The next Government of Iran will be chosen by the people. Why do all our young want to leave this country?"
"I know of no creation who places HIMSELF ahead of 20 million of the nation. We are Muslims - what is happening in Iran's Government is a sin! This Government is not what Imam Khomeini wanted for Iran - I will change all this - This is the SEA of GREEN!!"
This is a major landmark. Here are the 7 demands that are distributed by pamphlets to protesters:
1. Dismissal of Khamenei for not being a fair leader
2. Dismissal of Ahmadinejad for his illegal acts
3. Temporary appointment of Ayatollah Montazeri as the Supreme Leader
4. Recognition of Mousavi as the President
5. Forming the Cabinet by Mousavi to prepare for revising the Constitution
6. unconditional and immediate release of all political prisoners
7. Dissolution of all organs of repression, public or secret.
Who is Grand Ayatollah Montazeri?
Ayatollah Montazeri is a pro-Democracy, pro-Human Rights Ayatollah who was at one point possible successor of Khomeini, but became marginalized as he adopted what was seen as a too pro-Western, pro-Democracy stance.
Since shortly after beginning of the Revolution, he has been one of the fiercest critics of the Regime. The divide grew wider in 1988 when he had a falling out with Khomeini and was removed from his position as heir to the Supreme Leadership. He is one of the biggest proponents of women and civil rights for ALL Iranians, including much-maligned minorities like the Baha'is. In fact he goes further than the protections afforded to them under Sharia.
He is also a big critic of Ahmadinejad and has been seen for years as the best hope for Iran if he ever was to come to power, something that was unthinkable a mere week ago.
He has also come out with a statement saying that policemen who beat on protesters and follow orders will not be forgiven under Islam, and that even if the government cuts the lines of communication with the outside world, that it was too late and the truth was getting out
For further information on the Basij, Global Security has a good article about the history of the Basij. CNN has a good article where eyewitnesses describe the type of violence usually unleashed by the Basij. Here is another good article from GS again giving more background information on the ruthless Ansar thugs. BBC profile of Grand Ayatollah Montazeri
important: The Iranian government is looking for dissident twitterers, so if you have an account, change your location and time zone to Tehran!
Regarding the supposed numbers received by all three candidates giving Mousavi the winner and Ahmadinejad third with 7M votes: The only confirmation is an Iranian journalist. We don't have any external data confirming those numbers. 7M for Ahmadinejad seems quite low, so treat this as an unsubstantiated rumour for the moment
22nd of June.
- Mousavi announced today that there would be a day of mourning for the martyrs killed since the protests began this Thursday, in sync with the demands of Grand Ayatollah Montazeri. Tomorrow, a national strike will take place. Karroubi for himself released a statement calling on the Iranian government to provide care to those injured during the violence, release journalists and other political prisoners and return the bodies of those killed to their families.
- Members of the Parliament have commented that they are getting ready to hold Mousavi legally responsible for the protests and ensuing riots. They have also called for a possible ending of relationship with the United Kingdom. In response to Mousavi's calls for a general strike, they have also declared that anyone not going to work tomorrow will be fired. An Interior Ministry official followed-up the declaration that the votes were tampered with in 50 ballots, saying the results of each box will be published in the near future.
- Protesters have tried to protest peacefully and hold vigils, but were attacked by security and basij forces the second they were more than a couple of people together. Thousands of them have been roaming Tehran in order to block any protests from happening. IRIB is claiming that the government has quelled the protests and they are now things of the past.
- Basij and security forces have stormed one of the biggest newspapers in Iran, arresting members of the Staff. The British Embassy has evacuated all non-essential personal, fearing that the increasingly anti-British rhetoric will lead to another hostage situation at an embassy.
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.
note: I built this through both articles and twitter feeds, so I do not claim that this is a 100% factually correct representation of reality, but this is the general narrative.
12th and 13th of June - The election & irregularities.
Unlike the 2005 election, which was a low point of Iranian elections in term of participation, the 2009 election in fact produced a record turnout, the youth mobilized behind the two Reformist candidates. Polls in Iran are notoriously irrelevant and generally give the lead to whoever the pollsters support. All throughout the campaign, the Iranian media gave the lead to Ahmadinejad, while the polls from Reformists gave the lead The Iranian infrastructure was not ready to accommodate the number of voters, so the polling hours ended up being extended until midnight.
The ballots were supposedly counted, while the Interior Ministry building went into lockdown. The man currently in charge of the Interior Ministry was put in place by Ahmadinejad. More than 40 million votes were cast, yet they supposedly were all counted within three hours, and against all expectations not only did Ahmadinejad win, but won in a landslide. The official results given were:
Ahmadinejad - 62.63%
Mousavi - 33.75%
Rezaee - 1.73%
Karroubi - 0.85%
At this point, well into the night, spontaneous peaceful protests started to take place all over Tehran and major cities of Iran, contesting the results of the election. At first a few European countries congratulated Ahmadinejad, but quickly backtracked and expressed concerns over claims of irregularities.
As of the 21st of June, the only major countries who have officially and openly accepted the results are China, Russia, North Korea, Syria, Lebanon, Venezuela and Brazil.
14th of June
Obviously, this timeline will not be as exhaustive and complete as it will be in an update or two, as I have somewhere around 50-60 articles to go through. This will be the best I can do to be accurate on such a short period of time.
14th of June - While the previous day had been witness to some protests, they were for the most part peaceful. However, as time grew the protests turned more and more violent. When the first spontaneous riots erupted, the first wave of violence was unleashed. The Iranian Riot security forces was called in to support the regular security forces officers controlling the protests, and shortly after the Basij also took the scene, moving from a passive to active role of repression. The RP concentrated mostly around public buildings and streets while the Basij took position around student groups, especially universities.
- As things got more out of hand, more and more Basij troops were called in, as the security forces started dispersing. The riot security forces are less inclined (or, rather I should say the Basij are more inclined) to use violence so they retreated and leaving the place to the Basij. The repressive forces concentrated their assault mostly around the main Iranian universities, while the riot security forces were concentrating on protecting various government buildings such as the Interior Ministry. At least two people had been killed already.
- On the telecommunication front, this is when we started to hear more and more from twitters while videos were being freely updated to youtube (while youtube started to delete the more violent ones a few hours later). This is also the moment where the government realized what was happening, and ordered for the internet, phone lines and cellphones to be cut off, in order to avoid people communicating with the outside world.
late 14th, early 15th of June - This is the second wave of violent repression. At this point, violent riots had spread all over the main cities of Iran. The violence against citizens was not only the fruit of the Basij anymore, but also came from Ansar Hizbullah members. This is the point where firearms started being used. There were reports of a few murders but it was mostly fired in the air or on walls in order to scare away protesters in University dorms. It's also around the same time that the first reports and videos of an important number of non-Persian thugs shouting in Arabic and violently beating people with chains, clubs and electric batons (similar to cattle prods), which led to many speculating that lebanese Hizbullah members were now in Iran. Der Spiegel, through Voice of America, later claimed that 5000 Hizbullah fighters were passing off as Riot security forces, validating the claims of many independent sources and twitter feeds.
- Universities have been the hotbed of protests, serving as a hub of anti-government demonstrations and preparations. 120 teachers from the Sharid University resigned in protest over the election results. Perfectly away of this, the Basij, Ansar and possibly Hizbullah members concentrated their attacks on University Dorms all over the country, storming them and beating students, destroying everything, especially computers.
- The end of the second wave came right before the beginning of the current manifestation. Things were getting quieter with only sporadic reports of dissenters being assaulted. Important to note: at this time. The Supreme Leader authorized the plainclothes militias to use live ammunition against the crowd if things were to get out of hands. By the end of the first two waves of protests, hundreds of people had been arrested.
midday, 15th of June - This brings us to the third wave, which just began around 12:30PM for those of us on the East Coast. Plainclothes militia opened fire on civilians protesting peacefully. Possibly up to 2 million protesters took the street. Chaos erupted in the streets, with reports of fighting all over Tehran and spreading over Iran as the news circulated. Pictures of people shot, some to death, finally surfaced and were published in the mainstream media. Violent and murderous repression has started. At least a twenty people had been killed at this by the end of the 15th of June.
- There is a major national crackdown on students, especially those with connections to the outside world going on right now. Students are fighting back in some areas. Telephones are being bugged and everyone twittering and sending videos outside of Iran are being rounded up. ISPs were shut down, government hackers are threatening people who twitter, and some of them have vanished in the last 24 hours.
- Eventually, the people started to fight back. First, they took over and burned down a Basij base, killing its commander. Later, a Basij shot a young man in the face in front of their HQ, at which point a policeman went to confront them. The Basij beat the police man, at which point students stormed the compound, throwing Molotov cocktails, burning it to the ground.
- During the night, the security forces entered certain neighbourhood to arrest public servants and force them to appear at tomorrow's pro-Ahmadinejad manifestation, but the people went out in the street and forced them out of their neighbourhoods. The Basij have kept on storming dorms. So far the reports are conflicting, but it appears that the death toll could be as high as 40 for the protesters, with two dead on the side of the repressive militias. This is the end of the third wave.
early 16th of June - Supporters of Mousavi have a manifestation planned for 5pm, Tehran time. Roughly the same number or more is expected to attend. People are dressed in black and told to protest silently.
- The pro-Ahmadinejad crowd however are planning a counter-demonstration at the very same place the supporters are supposed to gather at 3pm. Most agree that basically they are simply going to gather for a confrontation. Rumours are that they are taking position in buildings next to the parade and in bunkers to attack. Basij from all over the country are moving to Tehran and supporters are being bused from all over the country. A major showdown is expected to unfold.
- The crackdown on people using telecommunication is as strong as ever. Anyone with a laptop, camera or cellphone is attacked in the street by plainclothes militias. Tehran hotels are under lockdown to prevent the members of the foreign press still in Iran from reporting what is happening.
- As for the Iranian Government and different branches, there are rumours that many Army Generals have been arrested for plotting a Coup d'...tat, but this is still speculation at this point. The Supreme Leader has also called for a 10-day inquiry into the claims of fraud, but it has been widely dismissed as cosmetic. Mousavi and his supporters have rejected this, claiming that they want new elections. Khamenei is now using the armed Basij as his own bodyguards, hundreds of them are surround him and his residence to protect from attempted assassinations. Ahmadinejad himself is in Russia right now, for a planned visit, and tries to pretend that everything is good as usual.
midday 16th of June to early 17th of June - The fourth wave of violence has started, and was expected to flare up very soon. It surprisingly was quite mild. Pro-Mousavi supporters said that there were even more people today protesting against the regime, though raw numbers are hard to get. If this is true, it means there are more than 2M protesters in the street right now. They are dressed in black and protesting silently and without violence so far. Other reports that only 250,000 were in the street, possibly scared by the Basij and propaganda.
- The Basij, surprisingly, did not attacking the march itself but rather assaulted dorms again. It looks like they are using the march as a diversion. In Tehran proper, 2000 Basij are waiting to storm the male dorm, and they are backed by IRG helicopters, which seems to send the message that the IRG has broken from their undeclared neutrality toward tacitly supporting the Regime.
- The crackdown on telecommunications is starting to suffocate all of Iran. As of now:
* Gmail, GTalk, Yahoo, Aim and ICQ are shut down
* Phone lines, cellphones and SMS are down most of the time
* HTTPS and other such protocols are down most of the time, so are ISPs
* They are trying very hard to close down the Iranian connexion to twitter and giving proxies they control in order to track down people
People are also receiving phone calls from the government saying "We know you were in the protests".
- Night fell on Iran, and the Basij were roaming, attacking those passing by at random. They had also surrounded dorms and stormed them once again.
17th of June - With the end of the fourth wave of violence, we have been in a wait and see mode. As of right now, there are many rumors involving clerics and Ayatollahs meeting in the Holy Shiite city of Qom and planning to overthrow Khamenei, as well as reports that some in the Army plotting to overthrow the government, semi-confirmations from credible twitterers, but nothing concrete or substantiated so far. These would be extremely big development, so it's better to treat them with caution.
- Nothing much has happened on this day aside of that. There was another mostly peaceful march, with around 500,000 protesters in the street. The Basij and others are still roaming around and beating on the population, as well as dressing in green, destroying buildings and trying to pin the blame on the protesters in order to make them look like a bunch of thugs.
- There have been more than a hundred people arrested in their hospital beds and taken to prison. The number of prisoners right now is estimated between 1,000 and 10,000; possibly more. The Basij are now laying traps into hospitals themselves, trying to snatch up protesters there. There are also reports that they are taking dead bodies before they are identified, stuffing them in vans and leaving to undisclosed locations. Doctors have been setting up outside clinics and fighting back in order to stop the Basij from doing what they do.
18th of June - The protests show no signs of slowing down, and the fact that the government has been less violent so far and concentrating on discrediting the protesters instead shows that they are losing grip and painfully aware of all the attention given to what is happening right now, CNN notwithstanding. It's also a worrying step, because the moment they start feeling they are losing grip even more is the moment where they might begin to unleash brutal waves of violence again, much worse than what we've seen so far.
- Iran Human Rights reports that today alone hundreds of members of the opposition and known Reformists have been arrested, some of them tortured in the basements of government buildings.
- There is a (so far) quiet march going on, where all the protesters are dressed in black and mourning those who have died so far. The crowds are estimated to be as big as they have been for the last few days, so that puts them between 1,000,000 and 2,000,000 in Tehran alone.
- Khamenei has agreed to a recount of 600 out of the thousands of ballot boxes, but this has been rejected by the opposition, who says that these elections are to be declared null and void, and that new elections have to be rescheduled. Khamenei in return rejected this. There are reports that Mousavi went as far as saying that Khamenei does not have authority to preside over the state of Iran anymore.
- As a sign of growing tension in the governmental apparatus, fist-fights were said to have broken out in Parliament over who to support, but it seems that the Parliament will ultimately back Ahmadinejad and Khamenei to the end. The Interior Ministry has ordered a security forces investigation into the massacre of 7 civilians by a Basij firing in a crowd. There are also reports of security forces officers deserting their posts and joining the protesters, while others use their position in the security forces force as a way to warn protesters from incoming arrests or crack downs. The army is still silent. There are reports that the man who leaked results of the election giving Mousavi winner and Ahmadinejad as losing in third position has been killed in a car "accident".
- The State TV has been turned into a full-blown anti-Revolution machine, constantly hammering on how evil the "thugs" who are smashing around private property are. Problem is that those thugs are in fact Basij dressed in green, but IRIB is reporting it as pro-Mousavi supporters. They have also been showing documentaries about the evils of the internet and how the US, UK and Israel are behind the protests. State Radio is not much better, with talking heads calling for the death of those evil thugs destabilizing the country at the behest of external forces. They have also issued false reports that Mousavi was "condemning the rioters".
- The Government has closed Iran to all foreign communication and coverage, according to many reports. It would also seem that the Iranian government has opened an account in the name of Ayatollah Khamenei on Twitter. There are reports that senior aides to all reformist candidates have been arrested, but it has yet to be corroborated and this is not the first time we hear such reports.
- According to Reuters, Iranian prosecutors have warned of the death penalty for the rioters who are involved in violence. Islamic cleric have warned that not going to Friday's prayer service makes you worthy of the death penalty. It is unclear yet what isn't worthy of death penalty at this point if you protest against the regime.
- All the violence reported over Iran is now exclusively done by the Basij, Ansar and, if the rumours are true, Hizbullah and Hamas. The security forces have completely stopped participating in the repression of the population, and both the Army and IRG are standing still and not doing anything. This is good news, but the Basij are sadly not reducing the level of violence they are unleashing on the population, beating up everyone they can get their hands on. It continued all throughout the night and during the day, but due to the mass of people involved it seems that they are restraining themselves when it comes to the mass rallies, preferring to pick isolated targets.
- Universities have cancelled all exams all over the country, and a long list of rebel students was given to all universities and they have to report the students, who are to be arrested on sight.
- There have been a few confirmed cases of people threatened inside the United States for providing proxies for the revolution. Their details were available on the internet so they were passed around pro-Government forces. If you are helping this revolution, be careful to do so as anonymously as you can. It doesn't mean you are risking your life, but it could potentially result in harassment or vandalism.
19th of June - Supreme Leader Khamenei called for Friday Prayers where he was present and delivered the sermons. Reformist leaders and their supporters boycotted it. Supporters of Khamenei flooded Tehran from all corners of Iran on Friday, and big post-speech clashes are expected during the night and tomorrow.
- Iranian prosecutors have warned protesters that violence might be punished with the death penalty, according to Reuters. As the Basij, they are cracking down on the population as ever, roaming the streets, vandalizing both pro and anti-Mousavi targets while pretending to be pro-Mousavi forces and trying to crack down on all dissenters.
- In other news, things are going from bad to worse for the Basij and they are starting not only to lose ground, but to fear for their safety. There are many reports that most Basij forces are now hiding their identities with masks for fear of reprisal. There are websites being created featuring images and often identities of Basij who have been violently repressing students, calling for actin to be taken against those men. Now the youth has started to hunt Basij as well. In their own neighbourhoods, where they know each others, they are now laying trap to known basij members, using side streets and houses to attack. They strike, and then they hide, only to regroup further, launch another attack and disperse again. Every house is unlocked and they have the tacit support of the population while no help helps the Basij. This might explain why the IRG has been called to take a more active role in the future.
The revolution lives on. Long live the revolution!