Monday, June 15, 2009

Morning Updates on Iran

I wish I had more time in the day to devote to passing along all the information that I am seeing on various blogs about the situation in Iran. It is riveting and captivating to see how the Green Revolution is continuing to push back against the coup d'etat in their country.

For starters, it is apparent that the way that most information is being gathered is through Facebook, Twitter, and other elements of "new media". There are some foreign media outlets that are managing to do their best to cover this story despite the media crackdowns, but Robert Farley sums up just how badly the traditional media outlets have dropped the ball on this:

So, I'm trying to find out something about what's going on in Iran, and on CNN I can watch a rerun of Larry King interviewing several gentlemen without shirtsleeves who apparently assemble choppers. On Fox Mike Huckabee is trying to explain why Jesus hates credit card relief. MSNBC is rerunning something about a prison in New Mexico. CNBC is evaluating whether college students should be able to afford Chanel tote bags.

Media fail.

dday over at Hullabaloo also weighs in on this issue:

A few national newspapers do seem to have decent reporting on the ground. And thanks to the Internet, we can access a good deal of information about the world from local sources. And some bloggers, like those at the National Iranian American Council and Tehran Bureau (until they were shut down, allegedly by a denial of service attack from inside Iran), are doing heroic work. I would highly recommend this post by Brian Ulrich, positing the entire enterprise as a military coup, with the Revolutionary Guard consolidating power. However, I think we all remember how the networks would pull away from programming for hours to cover international crises as they unfolded. There's clearly an attitude of indifference this time around, but that is as much budgetary as it is cynical. Television simply cannot cover the story anymore. And that's to the great disservice of the still-overwhelming mass of people around the world who depend on it for news and information. The triumphalism of those who would see the sorry spectacle of TV news shoved aside fails to account for the remaining digital divide in the country as well as the tendencies of a mass of people who are not likely to otherwise be reached. And they become more closed off to the world, more uncomfortable with opposing points of view, more clueless about international relations or foreign affairs. And there are clear dangers to such an environment of mass ignorance.

As for the latest developments inside of Iran. It is being reported that Iranian police are now invading the dorms of students, attacking and detaining them, and gassing their rooms. Here is a video clip:

Andrew Sullivan has compiled a list of Tweeters in Iran who are providing important information to the outside world. You can find that list here.

There is an interesting account that kind of gives you a timeline of how events went down. Muhammad Sahimi interviewed Mousavi's spokesperson, Mohsen Makhbalbaf:

According to Mr. Makhbalbaf, in the early hours after voting had ended, the Interior Ministry had called Mr. Mousavi’s campaign headquarters to inform them that Mr. Mousavi would be the winner and, therefore, Mr. Mousavi must prepare a victory statement. Mr. Mousavi was, however, asked by the Ministry not to boast too much, in order not to upset Mr. Ahmadinejad’s supporters. Many of the president’s supporters are among the ranks of the Basij militia, and thus armed. According to Mr. Makhbalbaf, the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was also informed of the developments. He also recommended a “good management” of the victory statement, meaning not boasting greatly about the victory, because that would be in Iran’s national interests and stability.

At the same time, the reformist newspapers were also informed that they can prepare their Saturday edition to declare Mr. Mousavi the winner, but were not allowed to use the word pirouzi (victory) in their articles, in order not to upset Mr. Ahmadinejad’s supporters. One reformist newspaper prepared its front page with the title, “People took back the flag of their country [from Mr. Ahmadinejad].” But, just a few hours later, a center that had been set up by Mr. Mousavi in Gheytarieh (in northern Tehran) for monitoring the election and vote counting, was attacked by armed security agents. They ransacked the center, destroyed computers, and attacked the staff. Supporters of Mr. Mousavi intervened and arrested 8 security agents. The police was called to take them to prison, but the police released the attackers. According to Mr. Makhbalbaf, the central headquaters of Mr. Mousavi’s campaign was also surrounded by security forces, as was the Interior Ministry building. Then, new data began to be released by the Ministry, indicating that Mr. Ahmadinejad had won the elections decisively. Mr. Makhbalbaf then declared that, “I have been authorized by Mr. Mousavi’s campaign to officially declare that a political coup has taken place, in order to declare Mr. Ahmadinejad the victor.”

There are also signs that the protests and demonstrations are having an effect. Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, has now reportedly called for a probe into the election results. This was after Khamenei had endorsed the orginal election results a second time and had called them a "divine assessment".

Despite the ban on protests and rallys, the BBC is also reporting that thousands have marched to Enghaleb Square:

Thousands of Iranians have staged a protest rally against the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, defying a government ban.

AFP news agency reported that defeated candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi appeared at the rally. He wants the election results annulled, alleging fraud.

Other reports said marchers had clashed with Ahmadinejad supporters.

Mr Ahmadinejad claims that the election result was rigged, saying the ballot was free and healthy.

Following two days of unrest, the interior ministry warned on Monday what it called "seditious elements" that "any disrupter of public security would be dealt with according to the law."

Mr Mousavi's campaign initially announced that the event had been called off, but his website later said he and Mehdi Karroubi, another defeated reformist candidate, would address the crowd.

AFP says the demonstrators gathered in central Tehran chanting: "Mousavi we support you!"

For more up to date, minute to minute coverage of the situation in Iran, I continue to urge you to visit Andrew Sullivan's blog. He continues to do a great job in covering this important moment in history.

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