Iran Election Live-Blogging (Sunday June 14)
This is the archive of my Iran election live-blogging from Sunday, June 14. For the latest updates, click here.
1:35 PM ET -- Ahmadinejad's rally. I haven't mentioned Ahmadinejad's rally today yet (one reader, apparently an Ahmedi supporter, called me a CIA agent for not doing so). But I was just waiting for video -- and here it is below.
The crowds were very large, making perfect images for Iran's state media to beam around the world, as NBC's Ali Arouzi noted. But Arouzi made some important points about the make-up of the crowd:
They'll certainly be some people from Tehran that supported him. During the election campaign, there were busloads of people brought in from the villages here to gather support for him. I spoke to one local journalist, he told me these are rent-a-mobs, that they bussed them in by the busload so it looks like he has a lot of support. I mean, to be fair, it will probably be a mix of people, supporters and people brought in from outside. There's also a lot of [paramilitary organization officials] who dress in civilian clothes and are loyal to him. Their numbers can swell up to one or two million people, so they'll be large in the turnout as well.
1:22 PM ET -- Mousavi's next steps. TehranBureau.com reports that Mousavi's wife, Zahra Rahnavard, today appeared publicly for the first time since the protests erupted, laying out the plans for resistance going forward.
The indispensable NIAC summed up her message: "Ghalamnews (Mousavi's newspaper) reports Mousavi is calling for a peaceful march along Valiasr street in Tehran and in 19 other cities on Monday and a national strike on Tuesday. Before the election, Mousavi supporters formed a chain down the entire 18 kilometer length of Valiasr."
1:06 PM ET -- The word from Tehran. An email from an Iranian-American in California, who passes along word from his father abroad. Again, this is not confirmed information (though it dovetails with a lot of the talk on Twitter), but passing along to give a sense of the moment right now.
Just got off the phone with my dad. He leaves in northern tehran...
He said that most iranians believe that a lot of the basijis [plain clothes officers] on the bikes are hezbollah arabs brought in to do to the citizens what a persian cop would refuse to do. Accordingly when the protesters knock one of the basijis off their bikes they are being particularly brutal, believing that the rider is arab. Regular uninformed cops are not being pursued with the same anger.
Bank storefronts have been smashed all over northern tehran. Mousavi, khattami and rafsanjani are allegedly meeting at mousavi's house (who is under house arrest) and are planning their next move. People there are waiting for further instructions from mousavi. In my dads neighborhood bbc persia and voice of america have been knocked off the satellite but not in all parts. Sorry this is rambling I'm getting constant calls from tehran. Will speak to my father again in two hours and will let you know anything new.
Please do not mention my name if you blog about this. Thanks.
1:05 PM ET -- Entering the dorms? I noted earlier claims that police had entered the dorms at Sharif University. An emailer sends along this photo as evidence:
1:04 PM ET -- Police run from crowds. Several readers have emailed this video over:
12:34 PM ET -- Iranians on Twitter. Here's a list of several.
12:08 PM ET -- Mass resignations at Sharif University. NIAC: "It has been confirmed that 120 faculty members at Sharif University have resigned in protest of the election, and are gathering in front of the university for a demonstration."
Twitter is full of accounts of violence at Sharif University right now, including riot police firing rubber bullets and storming through dorms. I have not seen independent confirmation of this yet (please email me if you have) but fyi.
Also, here's video of protests at Khaje Nasir University in Tehran from today, via reader Alex:
12:01 PM ET -- Joe Lieberman weighs in. One of the first official statements from a member of Congress, via email:
[T]hrough intimidation, violence, manipulation, and outright fraud, the Iranian regime has once again made a mockery of democracy, and confirmed its repressive and dictatorial character.
We as Americans have a responsibility to stand in solidarity with people when they are denied their rights by repressive regimes. When elections are stolen, our government should protest. When peaceful demonstrators are beaten and silenced, we have a duty to raise our voices on their behalf. We must tell the Iranian people that we are on their side.
For this reason, I would hope that President Obama and members of both parties in Congress will speak out, loudly and clearly, about what is happening in Iran right now, and unambiguously express their solidarity with the brave Iranians who went to the polls in the hope of change and who are now looking to the outside world for strength and support.
As we've noted below, several Iranian American human rights groups have urged just the opposite -- here, for example, is Trita Parsi's National Iranian American Council:
The Obama administration's approach to the election -- keeping its comments low-key and not signaling support for any candidate -- was exactly the right approach. While tempting, empty and self-serving rhetorical support for Iranians struggling for more freedoms serves only to aid their opponents. History has made Iran wary of foreign meddling, and American policymakers in particular must be sensitive to giving hardliners any pretense to call reform-minded Iranians foreign agents. That's why Iran's most prominent reformers, including Nobel-laureate Shirin Ebadi, have said the best thing the U.S. can do is step back and let Iran's indigenous human rights movement progress on its own, without overt involvement from the U.S-however well intentioned.
11:29 AM ET -- An Ayatollah dissents. Earlier this morning (9:42), I noted rumors that Grand Ayatollah Sanei, an influential Iranian cleric, had condemned the elections as unlawful. Now a reader of Andrew Sullivan's translates this article from Farsi:
Grand Ayatollah Sanei in Iran has declared Ahmadinejad's presidency illegitimate and cooperating with his government against Islam. There are strong rumors that his house and office are surrounded by the police and his website is filtered. He had previously issued a fatwa, against rigging of the elections in any form or shape, calling it a mortal sin.
11:16 AM ET -- "A smash in the face, a kick in the balls and Long Live the Democrator." Robert Fisk reports from Tehran.
10:50 AM ET -- More details on the crackdown. From the New York Times:
Dozens of reformist politicians were said to have been arrested at their homes overnight, according to news reports on Sunday and a witness who worked with the politicians. There were also reports of politicians and clerics being placed under house arrest.
Meanwhile, some foreign journalists were apparently being told to leave the country.
Reuters quoted a judiciary spokesman on Sunday as saying that the reformists had not been arrested but had been summoned, "warned not to increase tension" and released.
When asked at the news conference about the whereabouts of his opponents, Mr. Ahmadinejad never answered directly but made vague references to those committing crimes deserving to be arrested. Witnesses reported that at least one person had been shot dead on Saturday in clashes with the police in Vanak Square in Tehran.
10:37 AM ET -- Stunning new video. A reader, Alex, emails over an incredible video -- riot cops riding motorcycles charge directly into a massive crowd that is packed into a street. Moments later, the video cuts to one of the bikes engulfed in flames. The video then shows one of the officers, bruised and exhausted, being helped through the crowd by a half dozen or so Iranians.
It's unclear when this all took place -- the video was uploaded today, but it may very well have been from yesterday. Watch:
10:13 AM ET -- Mousavi's latest letter. An emailer, Robert, sends along the full translated version. One key graph:
Today, I officially asked the guardian council (who oversees the elections in IR) in a letter to nullify the outcome of this election and I regard this (the nullification) as the only possible way for regaining the people's trust and cooperation with the government. I strongly urge you again to peacefully protest and defend your legal rights civilly and without confrontation and violence all over the country.
10:02 AM ET -- Tossing away the notebook. New York Times columnist Roger Cohen has a powerful report from Tehran:
She was in tears like many women on the streets of Iran's battered capital. "Throw away your pen and paper and come to our aid," she said, pointing to my notebook. "There is no freedom here."
And she was gone, away through the milling crowds near the locked-down Interior Ministry spewing its pick-ups full of black-clad riot police. The "green wave" of Iran's pre-election euphoria had turned black. [...]
Majir Mirpour grabbed me. A purple bruise disfigured his arm. He raised his shirt to show a red wound across his back. "They beat me like a pig," he said, breathless. "They beat me as I tried to help a woman in tears. I don't care about the physical pain. It's the pain in my heart that hurts."
He looked at me and the rage in his eyes made me want to toss away my notebook.
9:42 AM ET -- More elite opposition to election results? An emailer, Laleh, writes in with some information from a friend in Tehran. We don't have confirmation on either of these points, but have heard them several times now, so am forwarding on.
1) Grand Ayatollah Yousof Sanei, a major Iran scholar, has apparently declared the elections "haram" -- unlawful.
2) The restrictions on foreign reporters are growing more strict. Laleh relays this from his friend: "The foreign reporters, who most of them are staying at the Esteghlal Hotel, have been forbidden to leave the hotel. A contact who was at the hotel last night witnessed security forces keeping reporters from leaving the hotel and witnessing scenes of unrest nearby on Vali-Asr avenue."
9:31 AM ET -- Report: 160 arrests. "Deputy head of Iranian police says 160 arrested & denies Mousavi under house arrest -- as reported by Mehr news agency" -- from journalist Mina Al Oraibi on Twitter.
9:28 AM ET -- The new calculus. "Tiananmen + Twitter = Tehran."
9:23 AM ET -- Biden expresses doubts about Iran's election. Details from the Associated Press, and video is below that:
Vice President Joe Biden said Sunday he had doubts about whether Iran's presidential election was free and fair, though the U.S. must accept "for the time being" Tehran's claim that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won a resounding re-election.
He said the Obama administration's interests regarding Iran were the same as before the disputed vote: persuading Tehran to stop development of a nuclear weapon and end its support for terrorism. Iran denies both allegations.
The U.S. is trying to understand whether the vote accurately reflected Iranians' response to President Barack Obama's effort to open a dialogue after a nearly 30-year diplomatic freeze, Biden said during an interview on NBC's "Meet the Press."
"That's the question," Biden said, adding: "Is this the result of the Iranian people's wishes? The hope is that the Iranian people all their votes have been counted, they've been counted fairly. But look, we just don't know enough" since Friday's vote.
While Ahmadinejad insisted the results showing his landslide victory were fair and legitimate, Biden simply said, "You know I have doubts."
"It sure looks like the way they're suppressing speech, the way they're suppressing crowds, the way in which people are being treated, that there's some real doubt about that," Biden said.
"I don't think we're in a position to say. What surprised me in that the assertion that he won by what 60 some percent of the vote, and so I think we have to wait and see. But it didn't seem on its face to be as clear cut."
The vice president tried to follow a careful line, however, given the administration's attempts to engage Iran.
Asked about recognizing Ahmadinejad's claim of victory over rival Mir Hossen Mousavi, Biden said, "We have to accept that for the time being. But there's an awful lot of questions about how this election was run. And we'll see. We're just waiting to see. We don't have enough facts to make a firm judgment."
9:21 AM ET -- Mousavi urges supporters to continue protests. Reformist presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi "urged his supporters on Sunday to continue with their protests, but in a peaceful and non-confrontational manner," AFP reports.
"I again advise you to continue the civil and legal opposition throughout the country peacefully and in a non-confrontational manner," he said in a statement on his campaign website.
9:03 AM ET -- Still no sign of Mousavi. Ahmadinejad's main rival Mousavi has not been seen in public for over 24 hours. There have been varying accounts that he and other senior officials in his camp are under house arrest, though he has not addressed those charges in any of his statements thus far.
8:47 AM ET -- Iran shuts down Al-Arabiya bureau. CNN reports:
Iranian authorities closed Al-Arabiya's Tehran bureau for a week without offering a reason, the Arabic network announced on its Web site Sunday in Arabic and English.
The announcement came on the heels of the disputed re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who insisted Sunday his country had a free press.
"There is close to absolute freedom here. (People) can say whatever they like. There are hundreds of dailies published in Iran," he said in a news conference marking his controversial victory over reformist Mir Hossein Moussavi.
Foreign reporters have been blocked at every turn from covering the ensuing protests by Moussavi supporters who claimed ballot fraud.
Meanwhile, CNN's Saeed Ahmed tweeted an hour ago:
CNN producer Desta: Men in motorcycles with metal pipes chased after protesters beating them, also near Hotel Tehran ... Man approached cops to ask why they were shoving a woman. 4-5 cops beat him senseless near Hotel Tehran
8:35 AM ET -- Farce press conference. The AP notes, "Several Iranian journalists who asked questions first congratulated Ahmadinejad for his victory. When asked about the allegations of voting irregularities, the hard-line president brushed the claims off, calling them unimportant." Just now, a reporter shouted praise for Ahmadinejad and said he wanted to recite a piece of poetry in connection with the "celebrations" around the country.
8:12 AM ET -- Ahmadinejad declines to guarantee rival's safety. CNN's Christian Amanpour got into a bit of a verbal scuffle with Ahmadinejad during his press conference just now. Her questions were: "What is the situation with your challenger Mir-Hossein Mousavi and will you guarantee his safety? And why have opposition reform individuals, officials, been arrested?"
Ahmadinejad responded (CNN's translation):
The situation in the country is in a very good condition. Iran is the most stable country in the world, and there's the rule of law in this country, and all the people are equal before the law. And the presidential election has witnessed people's massive turnout. As I said, even in a soccer match, people may become excited and that may lead to a confrontation between them and the police force. This is something natural. A person coming out of a stadium may violate the traffic regulations. He wil be fined by the police no matter who he is, an ordinary person or even a minister.
So these are not problems for the people of Iran. 40 million people have participated in the election and these 40 million people will safeguard the elections, based on the Iranian culture. There is no partisanship based on the Western concept. In fact, the people are friends with one another, and they're going to cast their votes in favor of any candidate they like, and of course, such a voting process will not lead to any hostility among the people. And you go to the streets you see that people are friends with one another, and in Iran, no one asks the other whom you're going to vote for.
The situation is very good, and Iran is on the threshold of making considerable progress. And definitely in the next four years, the status of Iran in the world will be further promoted.
At this point, Amanpour tried to re-ask her question, using what seemed to be the old reporters' technique of claiming she had "missed the translation." Ahmadinejad shouted something at her, apparently (though it wasn't translated on CNN) something like, 'no follow-up questions.' She responded, "No, just the first question," and tried to repeat herself, but he cut her off. "Yes, I did respond to your question," he said, before repeating his traffic law example and declaring himself the "president of all Iranians."
Soon after, an Associated Press reporter told Ahmadinejad that his statements about engaging the United States amounted mostly to a proposal to debate President Obama at the United Nations. He asked if Ahmadinajad was open to direct talks with the U.S. to improve bilateral ties. Ahmadinejad said he wasn't going to discuss such proposals.
7:58 AM ET -- Ahmadinejad defends election as "real and free." From the AP write-up:
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Sunday his re-election was "real and free" and cannot be questioned _ despite accusations of mass voter fraud.
Ahmadinejad made the comments Sunday during a press conference _ his first since the government announced that he was re-elected to a second term in a landslide victory during Friday's vote.
But his top opponent accused the government of voter fraud and many of his supporters have clashed with police in Tehran's streets. About a mile away from Ahmadinejad's press conference, young Iranians set trash bins, banks and tires on fire as riot police beat them back with batons.
"In Iran, the election was a real and free one. The election will improve the nation's power and its future," he told a packed room of Iranian and foreign media.
4:02 AM ET -- Signing off for a few hours. We'll be back to posting shortly, but in the meantime, please feel free to a) email me with anything you're seeing and b) check out the Twitter module at the very bottom of this post (I know, it's quite a long way down there now!) for the latest information on Iran.
3:28 AM ET -- "There will be blood." I posted below on Trita Parsi's belief that Iran's reformists are "widely assumed" to be planning to challenge Ayatollah Khamenei.
Now Steve Clemons (of the New America Foundation and a HuffPost blogger) writes about a discussion he had in London with "a well-connected Iranian who knows many of the power figures in the Tehran political order."
[T]he scariest point he made to me that I had not heard anywhere else is that this "coup by the right wing" has created pressures that cannot be solved or patted down by the normal institutional arrangements Iran has constructed. The Guardian Council and other power nodes of government can't deal with the current crisis and can't deal with the fact that a civil war has now broken out among Iran's revolutionaries.
My contact predicted serious violence at the highest levels. He said that Ahmadinejad is now genuinely scared of Iranian society and of Mousavi and Rafsanjani. The level of tension between them has gone beyond civil limits -- and my contact said that Ahmadinejad will try to have them imprisoned and killed.
Likewise, he said, Rafsanjani, Khatami, and Mousavi know this -- and thus are using all of the instruments at their control within Iran's government apparatus to fight back -- but given Khamenei's embrace of Ahmadinejad's actions in the election and victory, there is no recourse but to try and remove Khamenei. Some suggest that Rafsanjani will count votes to see if there is a way to formally dislodge Khamenei -- but this source I met said that all of these political giants have resources at their disposal to "do away with" those that get in the way.
3:24 AM ET -- Protests at dawn. The latest video, posted early this morning (Iran time), and emailed in from a reader named Phen.
3:19 AM ET -- New images. Some of the best photos of the protests I've seen are at TehranLive.org. Here's a taste:
3:06 AM ET -- Over 100 reformists reportedly arrested. A reader, Stephen, sends over this Reuters report datelined 2:52 AM:
Over 100 reformists, including Mohammad Reza Khatami the brother of former president Khatami, were arrested on Saturday night, leading reformist Mohammad Ali Abtahi told Reuters on Sunday.
"They were taken from their homes last night," said former vice president Abtahi.
He said more arrests were expected.
2:59 AM ET -- Iranians fear planned protest is a trap. For hours now, people have been Tweeting and emailing about a planned anti-Ahmadinejad protest at 12:30 PM Iranian time. Just as often, it seems, we've been seeing messages like this, from TehranBureau.com: "There are rumors of a protest at Vali-Asr today at 12:30pm. This is a trap. please pass this on to everyone you know. The official word from Mousavi HQ is hold back and wait for word."
This is the archive of my Iran election live-blogging from Sunday, June 14. For the latest updates, click here.