Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Latest from Iran

It has been a little while since I have been able to post some updates on the situation in Iran, so here is some of the latest.

It appears that photos of yesterday's pro-government rally in support of Ahmadinejad were photoshopped to make the crowds appear bigger than they really were. You can view some of the analysis on the photos by clicking here. Is this any surprise considering the outcome of the election?

According to the BBC, there were more raids on dorms:

Supporters of Mir Hossein Mousavi are planning a new demonstration in Tehran against what they see as a fraudulent presidential poll in Iran.

The planned rally follows overnight raids on university dormitories in several Iranian cities and as two pro-reform figures were arrested.

Heavy restrictions have now been placed on the BBC and other foreign news organisations. Reporters are not allowed to cover unauthorised gatherings or move around freely in Tehran - but there are no controls over what they can say. Jon Leyne reports from Tehran.

Iran's soccer team played in South Korea last night. Here is a photo of players who had the courage to sport green wristbands:

Here is some video of yesterday's silent protest in Iran. I think that this is just as powerful as the vocal protests and in some ways, even more so:

Meanwhile civilians are being targeted:

This is apparently Mousavi's latest message that was posted on Facebook:

Like you know, in the past few days, there have been clashes - legally and illegally - that have been violent between protesters of the election and their critics.

A number of you have been injured and several have been martyred.

I would first like to convey my condolences to you.

At the same time, I would like you all to go to mosques and to places of worship in order to remember them and to pray for them.

We will also commemorate them by our peaceful protests.

I would like you to know that I will also be taking part in these protests and commemorations.

Mir Hossein Mousavi

End of letter.

and after calling for protesters to mourn the dead, there is reportedly a huge rally currently underway. From the Guardian:

More than 500,000 Iranians are silently marching from from Haft-e-Tir Squre to Vali Asr Square, reports Saeed Kamali Dehghan in Tehran.

Many are wearing black in mourning for those killed in earlier protests. Protesters want to go to Tehran University later to mourn the killing on Sunday of students in a dormitory.

Reuters says that "tens of thousands" of people are protesting.
One street leading to the square was packed for several kilometres, witnesses said.

Most of the protesters were silent and making victory signs. Some are holding pictures of those killed.

The authorities say the rally is banned.

Here is a picture of this march:

Robert Fisk gives an interesting account of street protests and a possible softening of the police force:

I've just been witnessing a confrontation, in dusk and into the night, between about 15,000 supporters of Ahmadinejad - supposedly the president of Iran - who are desperate to down the supporters of Mr Mousavi, who thinks he should be the president of Iran.

There were about 10,000 Mousavi men and women on the streets, with approximately 500 Iranian special forces, trying to keep them apart.

It was interesting that the special forces - who normally take the side of Ahmadinejad's Basij militia - were there with clubs and sticks in their camouflage trousers and their purity white shirts and on this occasion the Iranian military kept them away from Mousavi's men and women.

In fact at one point, Mousavi's supporters were shouting 'thank you, thank you' to the soldiers.

One woman went up to the special forces men, who normally are very brutal with Mr Mousavi's supporters, and said 'can you protect us from the Basij?' He said 'with God's help'.

and this interesting development that was reported by Reza Aslan on CNN last night:

"There are very interesting things that are taking place right now. Some of my sources in Iran have told me that Ayatollah Rafsanjani, who is the head of the Assembly of Experts -- the eighty-six member clerical body that decides who will be the next Supreme Leader, and is, by the way, the only group that is empowered to remove the Supreme Leader from power -- that they have issued an emergency meeting in Qom.

Now, Anderson, I have to tell you, there's only one reason for the Assembly of Experts to meet at this point, and that is to actually talk about what to do about Khamenei. So, this is what I'm saying, is that we're talking about the very legitimacy, the very foundation of the Islamic Republic is up in the air right now. It's hard to say what this is going to go."

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